14 peaceful activists arrested since the beginning of the year
Amnesty International is calling for the Côte d'Ivoire authorities to end their persistent attacks against civil society activists and opposition members, as the country celebrates their Independence Day today (7 August).
Fourteen activists have been arrested since the beginning of the year in a crackdown of dissenting voices.
Marie-Evelyne Petrus Barry, Amnesty International West and Central Africa Regional Director, said:
"Authorities have targeted and arrested activists and opposition members solely for expressing their political views or organising peaceful protests. The government should release all such persons immediately and unconditionally and ensure that no one is arrested and imprisoned for that.
"The growing threats on peaceful activists and opposition members in this period of tense political activity may throw the country into instability ahead of next year's elections.
"Today's celebration of the Independence Day should be an opportunity that President Alassane Ouattara and his government must take to respect and promote the rights to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly."
The activists arrested since the beginning of the year include:
Online activist Soro Tangboho, also known as 'Carton Noir', who was arrested on 8 November last year while live streaming a video on Facebook showing police officers who he claims were extorting money from motorists. He has been accused of 'disrupting public order' and 'incitement to xenophobia'. His initial one-year sentence in prison has now been extended to two years.
Six members of 'les Indignés', a civil society coalition, arrested on 23 July when heading to a meeting at the Election Commission headquarters.
Professor Bamba Moriféré, President of the opposition party Rassemblement du Peuple pour la Côte d'Ivoire, who was arrested on 7 July on charges of 'incitement to insurrection, xenophobia and public disorder'.
Valentin Kouassi, whowas arrested on 1 July after organising a political rally. He was later released but is prohibited from expressing himself in public on current affairs, on social media and to participating in meetings.