Harsh sentences for 18 opposition protesters
En Côte d’Ivoire, une manifestation de l’opposition empêchée par la police https://t.co/By8FBFX4Cf via @LeMonde_Afrique #civ225 pic.twitter.com/IMeg5ro0OC— Observateur Citoyen (@ObservateurCIV) 23 maart 2018
On 6th April 2018, a court in Abidjan sentenced 18 protesters to 12 days in prison and a fine of 50,000 CFA francs (95 USD) on charges of disturbing public order for participating in an opposition protest on 22nd March to demand reform of the Independent Election Commission. Additionally, the 18 were deprived of their civic rights, including the right to vote, for five years. Most of those sentenced are opposition figures. The opposition platform Ensemble pour la Démocratie et la Souveraineté (Together for Democracy and Sovereignty) called for the protest on 22nd March in light of the Senate elections on 24th March. Security forces prevented the protest in the neighbourhood of Adjamé in Abidjan, which authorities had banned the previous day, stating that there was no agreement on the protest route. According to media reports, security forces arrested about 50 people, and tear gas was fired.
From 22nd to 24th May, teachers and researchers of public universities organised a three-day strike to denounce, among others, poor governance in public universities and research centres and the working conditions, such as the hourly rate and the restoration and augmentation of a housing allowance, a benefit which teachers enjoyed in the 1980s. The strike was organised after a General Assembly of Coordination Nationale des Enseignants du Supérieur et des Chercheurs de Côte d’Ivoire (National Association of Teachers and Researchers of Côte d'Ivoire - CNEC).
On 6th June, over 1,200 students of the National Institute of Youth and Sports protested in Abidjan over the death of a schoolmate at the institute, Dié Eric Privat, who hit his head against a handball goal post, and could not get treatment because the medical centre was closed. The protesters denounced the lack of medical staff at the Institute and the poor living conditions of the students. They blocked the Henri Konan Bedie bridge, the third main bridge in Abidjan. According to media reports, protesters threw stones, while riot police used tear gas to disperse the protesters. After a dialogue between the authorities of the Ministry of Sports and Leisure and the students, the authorities announced an investigation into the death of student Dié Eric Privat as well as the suspension of the director of the Centre of Sport Medicine and the allocation of 17 of 33 buildings with a capacity of 2,000 beds to the students for the next academic year.
After the publication of an article exposing corruption within the customs agency on 24th April, which led to the arrest of the managing director of said agency, journalist Antoine Assalé Tiémoko of the satirical newspaper L’Éléphant Déchaîné received several death threats, according to Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA). The journalist has faced intimidation, threats, judicial harassment for years as well as survived a murder attempt in December 2014.
During the opposition protest on 22nd March, security officers arrested journalist Landry Beugré of the daily L’Intelligent d’Abidjan while he was conducting an interview. Police officers also arrested and physically assaulted journalist and blogger Coulibaly Daouda, while other journalists were dispersed with tear gas and/or prevented from doing their work. Such violent actions were condemned in a statement by the Syndicat National des Professionnels de la Presse de Côte d’Ivoire (National Union of Press Professionals of Cote d'Ivoire).
La déclaration du #SYNAPPCI relative à l'agression des journalistes Coulibaly Dauda (@cdaoudy) et Landry Beugré de l'Intelligent d'Abidjan (@lintelligentdab) https://t.co/1CKD2jjXwa pic.twitter.com/csJEHaKh4x— SYNAPPCI (@SYNAPP_CI) 25 maart 2018
Civic Space Developments