Amnesty International Chides Ivory Coast Govt,Warns against Imprisonment of Opposition Figures
While urging the Ivorian Parliamentary Assembly to go beyond expression of concerns relating to the situation of the five Ivorian parliamentarians in preventive detention since December 23, 2019, Amnesty International has, in a statement dated January 10, cautioned the authorities in Abidjan to grant right to a fair trial for members of the opposition.
The AI referred to the five parliamentarians who are among the 17 pro-Soro people arrested ,citing especially Rigobert Soro, the brother of presidential candidate Guillaume Soro, who has been subjected to enforced disappearance.,Civinewsafrik has reported.
The human rights body also denounces the searches of opposition leaders houses by security forces without warrant especially the home of some of the detained persons.
“The Ivorian authorities must guarantee the right to a fair trial for members of the opposition and their relatives who have been arrested in the past two weeks and ensure that these people can consult their lawyers and receive medical treatment,” Amnesty International said on 10 January 2020.
Rigobert Soro, police officer and brother of presidential candidate Guillaume Soro, has been subjected to an enforced disappearance since December 30, 2019. Dahafolo Koné, assistant to Guillaume Soro’s lawyer, is detained without charge and without possibility to consult a lawyer since December 27, 2019. He was receiving treatment for a serious medical condition and needs medical attention.
They are among 17 opposition-related people detained following a wave of arrests carried out between 23 and 31 December 2019 in Abidjan. Thirteen people were charged with “dissemination and publication of false news (…), of disturbing public order; and of attack on the authority of the State “.
While in detention, security forces searched the homes of several of the detainees, without a warrant.
“The authorities must immediately reveal what happened to Rigobert Soro. They must ensure that detainees can consult a lawyer, receive medical care and receive visits from their relatives. Subjecting people to enforced disappearance and preventing detainees from consulting their lawyers constitutes a serious human rights violation and a brazen attempt to intimidate opposition voices, “said François Patuel, researcher on the Internet,West Africa to Amnesty International.
“The system adopted to launch legal proceedings against Guillaume Soro and the arrests of his supporters and relatives are suspect. Given the procedural irregularities, it would not be surprising if these prosecutions were motivated by political considerations. “
Rigobert Soro was reportedly arrested at the National Police Academy, where he was summoned on December 30, and is believed to be in detention at the Department of Territorial Surveillance (DST), but the authorities refused to confirm his detention. Dahafolo Koné was arrested on December 27 and is detained at the Agban gendarmerie camp.
Guillaume Soro, former ally of President Alassane Ouattara, is the leader of the Generations and Peoples in Solidarity (GPS) party. He had announced his candidacy for the October 2020 presidential election and was returning to Abidjan on December 23 when the prosecutor announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for him.
He was charged with “serious suspicions of an attempt to attack the authority of the state and the integrity of the national territory”. He is also being prosecuted in another case for complicity in embezzlement, concealment and money laundering.
When Guillaume Soro’s flight was redirected on December 23, 2019, his supporters decided to organize a press conference at the headquarters of Generations and Peoples in Solidarity.
Security forces broke into the headquarters and arrested them and took them to the DST, an unofficial detention center, where they were interrogated in the absence of their lawyers.
Among those arrested and still in detention are five parliamentarians and leaders of Generations and Solidarity: Alain Lobognon, Soro Kanigui, Kando Soumahoro, Yao Soumaïla and Camara Loukimane.
The homes of several detainees, including that of Rigobert Soro, were searched without a warrant by the security forces between December 26 and 31, 2019. The home of Affoussiata Bamba Lamine, lawyer and sympathizer of Guillaume Soro, was also searched in her absence, without a warrant being produced and no proceedings have been brought against her ”.