• Campaigns

Cote d'Ivoire: Legal concern / fear of ill-treatment

, Index number: AFR 31/005/1996

Picas Damane, Charles Ble Goude, Souleymane Kamarate, Sylvanus Gore: Picas Damane, deputy secretary general of the Federation estudiantine et scolaire de Cote d'Ivoire (FESCI, Ivorian Federation of Student and School Pupils), and three other FESCI leaders have been held incommunicado since 19 December and there are fears they may be at risk of ill-treatment. They appear to be prisoners of conscience, held because of their membership of FESCI, an organization which the government claims has been outlawed.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 31/05/96
UA 301/96 Legal concern / fear of ill-treatment 24 December 1996
CÔTE D'IVOIREPicas Damane
Charles Blé Goudé
Souleymane Kamarate
Sylvanus Goré - student activists
Picas Damane, deputy secretary general of the Fédération estudiantine et
scolaire de Côte d'Ivoire (FESCI), Ivorian Federation of Student and School
Pupils and three other FESCI leaders have been held incommunicado since 19
December and Amnesty International fears that they are at serious risk of
ill-treatment. All of them appear to be prisoners of conscience, detained
because of their membership of FESCI, an organization which the government
claims has been outlawed.
The four were arrested the day after violent clashes between security forces
and students demonstrating about scholarship payments. Despite the fact that
it was not clear that FESCI was responsible for the violence, the four leaders
were arrested while they were in the office of the Minister of Security, where
they had been invited to discuss this and other issues raised by this student
organization. The arrest of the four FESCI leaders may be linked to incidents
which took place last week during the funeral of a former FESCI leader,
Jean-Pierre Koukougnon who died in London and whose corpse had been sent back
to Côte d'Ivoire to be buried there.
The four FESCI leaders are currently being held in the basement of the Police
Headquarters (Préfecture de police) in Abidjan. They are being denied access
to a lawyer, a doctor and their families. They are not known to have been
charged with any criminal offence.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
FESCI, which campaigns for better student conditions, has been faced continual
harassment for several years. In September 1995 nine FESCI members, including
Guillaume Soro, the organization's secretary general, were held incommunicado
for more than one month before appearing in a very weak condition on television
where they made a public apology, apparently under pressure. They were all
released without charge some days later. At a press conference held at the
time of their release, the then Minister of Security, General Gaston Ouassénan
Koné said that the Ivoiran government considered FESCI to have been dissolved
in 1991 and that "in future anyone claiming to be a member of FESCI will be
considered an outlaw". Following these public threats, some of its leaders
were obliged to go into hiding.
In May and August 1996, two press conferences held by FESCI at the Youpougon
university campus in Abidjan were forcibly broken up by security forces who
beat and ill-treated the students, some of whom were briefly detained. Last
year, in a similar incident, a visitor to the student campus, Sylvie Anoma,
was allegedly raped by a member of the security forces. Despite the lodging
of a formal complaint, to date no official inquiry is known to have been carried
out.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French or your own language:
- expressing concern that four student members of the Fédération estudiantine
et scolaire de Côte d'Ivoire (FESCI), arrested on 19 December, are being held
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in incommunicado detention, which provides no safeguards against torture and
ill-treatment, in Abidjan;
- urging that the detainees be allowed immediate access to legal
representatives, their families and, if necessary, medical treatment;
- expressing concern that some or all of the student leaders arrested may be
prisoners of conscience, held solely on account of their non-violent political
activities and urging the authorities to release these prisoners if they are
not to be charged promptly with recognizable criminal offences and given a
fair and public trial within a reasonable period of time.
APPEALS TO:
President
Son Excellence
Henri Konan Bedié
Président de la République
La Présidence, Boulevard Clozel, Abidjan
République de Côte d'Ivoire
Fax: +225 21 1425
Telegrams: Président Bedié, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Telexes: 23754 PRESID CI OR 23169 PRELIT CI
Salutation: Monsieur le Président/Dear President
Prime Minister
M. Daniel Kablan Duncan
Premier Ministre
Le Primature, Abidjan
République de Côte d'Ivoire
Telegrams: Premier Ministre, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Salutation: Monsieur le Premier Ministre/ Dear Prime Minister
Minister of Justice
M. Brou Kouakou
Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
Boulevard Angoulvant, BP V107, Abidjan
République de Côte d'Ivoire
Telegrams: Ministre Justice, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Telexes: 23752 MINAFET CI (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/ Dear Minister
Minister of Security
M. Marcel Dibonan Koné
Ministre de la Sécurité
Ministère de la Sécurité
Boulevard Angoulvant, Abidjan
République de Côte d'Ivoire
Fax: +225 21 3981
Telegrams: Ministre Sécurité, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
Minister for Higher Education
M. Saliou Touré
Ministre de l'Enseignement Supérieur
Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur
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Abidjan
République de Côte d'Ivoire
and to diplomatic representatives of Côte d'Ivoire accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 12 February 1997.

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