Côte d'Ivoire – Increased threats against human rights defenders

23 February 2011

Re: Côte d'Ivoire – Increased threats against human rights defenders

Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the West

African Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN) and the Ivorian Coalition of Human Rights

Defenders (CIDDH) express their concern at the constant increase of threats and instances of

intimidation against human rights defenders which have occurred in the context of the political crises

which have followed the presidential elections of 28 November 2010. During the last three weeks, at

least twelve human rights defenders and journalists have been threatened, arrested or otherwise


On 17 February 2011, Mr Nahouala Soro, Deputy Secretary-General of the Mouvement Ivoirien des

Droits Humains (MIDH) and responsible for the investigation unit within the same organisation,

received two SMS threatening him with death. The threats, which also targeted his family, were sent

without hiding the sender's number. The first message read as follows: "you and traoré [Drissa Traoré,

MIDH President] you are dead, we're following you". The second message threatened him in the

following terms: "you are a dead man walking, we're telling you again. Death is around you, either a

widow and an orphan or choose to be widower". About ten days earlier, on 6 and 7 February at about

7 pm and 2 pm respectively, Nahouala Soro received two anonymous telephone calls.

Mr Traore Wodjo Fini, President of the Cote d'Ivoire African Union Club (Club UA CI) and General

Coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition for Peace and Democratic Development in Cote d'Ivoire

(COSOPCI), received anonymous death threats by telephone since 14 February 2011. The threats

followed Traore Wodjo Fini's intervention at the World Social Forum, which was held from 6 to 11

February in Dakar, where he spoke about the situation in Cote d'Ivoire.

Ms Véhi Honorine Toure, President of Génération Femme du troisième Millénaire (GF3M), received

telephone calls accusing her of denigrating the country abroad following an interview she did on 4

February for an international NGO working on women's rights, together with Ms Mata Coulibaly,

President of SOS Exclusion.

Some media have also contributed to creating a climate of intimidation against human rights

defenders. The newspaper Notre Voie recently published an article stigmatising human rights

defenders, portraying them as members of the opposition and accusing them of invoking a military

intervention in Cote d'Ivoire. The article, published on 27 January, mentioned Ms Geneviève Diallo,

National Coordinator of the Réseau Paix et Sécurité des Femmes de l'Espace CEDEAO

(REPSFECO), Ms Salimata Porquet, Regional Coordinator of the same network, as well as Ms

Edwige Sanogo, also member of the network.

Several journalists have also been subjected to threats, intimidation and arrest. In the last month, at

least three journalists were arrested and detained and at least four received death threats.

These instances follow a number of other episodes that occurred in December 2010. Following the

being of the political crises, several other human rights defenders were threatened, intimidated or had

their properties destroyed. Mr Drissa Traoré, President of MIDH, received threats and his home was

reportedly under surveillance. Another member of MIDH, Mr Dopali Coulibaly, was victim of an act of

intimidation and his car was vandalised. Mr Armand Behibro Kouadio, member of Amnesty

International Côte d'Ivoire, received death threats from the Fédération Estudiantine et Scolaire de

Côte d’Ivoire (FESCI). Mr Ibrahim Diaby, Secretary-General of Syndicat National des Transports des

Marchandises et des Voyageurs de la Côte d’Ivoire (SNTMVCI), was falsely accused of distributing

machetes at the bus station of Adjamé, following the organisation by SNTMVCI of a strike in the

transport sector.

Front Line, ROADDH and CIDDH urge the authorities in Côte d'Ivoire and the political and

security actors involved to:

1. Immediately cease all acts of intimidation and threats against human rights defenders,

journalists and other members of civil society;

2. Accept their responsibility to ensure effective protection of human rights defenders and their


3. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Cote d'Ivoire are able to carry

out their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights without fear of reprisals and

free of restrictions.

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