Trade unionist and pro-democracy activist Jean-Rémy Yama remains incarcerated 11 months after his arbitrary arrest
#Gabon #Urgent— Tournons La Page (@TournonsLaPage) June 13, 2022
Appel à #mobilisation : Libérez le syndicaliste Jean-Rémy Yama !
Jean-Rémy Yama - président de Dynamique unitaire, membre de Tournons La Page – est placé en détention arbitraire depuis le 2 mars dernier pour une histoire d'abus de confiance. pic.twitter.com/tD6b3Gu52t
On 27th February 2022, officers of the Directorate General of Counter-Intelligence and Military Security, also known as “B2”, arrested trade union leader Jean-Rémy Yama at the international airport of Libreville, where he was about to take a flight to Dakar to receive medical treatment. The B2 officers subsequently took him to an unknown location. On 2nd March 2022, Yama was formally accused of “breach of confidence” under the Penal Code and placed in pre-trial detention at the Central Prison of Libreville. The accusations relate to complaints by four professors for not having received housing, in a case of the construction of staff accommodation for teachers by the real estate company SCI Serpentin. In the early 2000s, Yama was the co-manager of SCI Serpentin on a project to build staff accommodation for teachers, to be financed partly by the state. The project failed, reportedly due to a lack of state funding.
On 25th March 2022, Yama was removed from public service, according to his colleagues at the trade union SNEC, without prior notification and outside the legal framework for civil servants. On 10th June 2022, the investigating judge ordered his release for medical reasons, due to a heart condition, but this order was not executed and Yama remained imprisoned.
Human rights organisations, including the International Federation of Human Rights, pointed out that the charge of “breach of confidence” usually does not lead to incarceration, fearing that the detention is political and due to his work as a pro-democracy activist and trade unionist. Yama’s lawyers also said the detention is “political” with no legal justification.
Jean-Rémy Yama is the president of Dynamique unitaire, a trade union coalition, president of trade union Syndicat national des enseignants et chercheurs (SNEC; Trade union of Teachers and Researchers) and an active member of the pro-democracy group Tournons la Page in Gabon.
At the time of writing, Yama remains incarcerated.
HRDs prevented from visiting HRD Jean-Rémy Yama in prison
Human rights defenders George Mpaga of Réseau gabonais des organisations libres pour la bonne gouvernance (ROLBG; Gabonese Network of Free Organisations for Good Governance) and Marc Ona, national representative for the Réseau de défenseurs des droits humains d'Afrique centrale (REDHAC; Network of Human Rights Defenders of Central Africa) were denied entry to the Central Prison of Libreville, where they were visiting three prisoners, including trade unionist Jean-Rémy Yama. Entry was denied despite the HRDs having obtained authorisation from a court in Libreville.
Protest against French military presence banned
A protest against the presence of the French military in Gabon, planned for 24th May 2022 in Libreville, was banned by authorities. In a letter addressed to the organisers of the march, opposition party Front patriotique gabonais, the Minister of the Interior said that the protest would jeopardise the “excellent relations” between Gabon and France as there is a defence agreement in place between the two countries.
Protest against the non-payment of pensions dispersed
On 10th June 2022, a group of pensioners occupied the street facing the National Social Security Fund (CNSS) in Libreville, to protest against the non-payment of pensions. The CNSS has been in crisis, lacking sufficient funds to pay all pensions due, while the government recently dismissed the management and board of CNSS. Security forces dispersed the gathering protesters.
Civic Space Developments