French

Authorities' growing intolerance of critical online voices

Expression

In a statement on 28th January 2019, Amnesty International called upon the authorities to stop the judicial harassment of, and the release of all people who were arbitrarily detained due to their exercise of freedom of expression. It concerns opposition member of parliament Alain Lobognon, online activist Soro Tangboho and political activist Daleba Nahounou. 

On 30th January 2019, a court in Abidjan sentenced Alain Lobognon, member of parliament and former Minister of Sports, to a prison sentence of one year in prison and a fine of 300,000 francs CFA (524 USD) on charges of 'disseminating false publication on social networks and incitement to revolt' under the Penal Code. The charges relate to a post, published on Twitter, by Lobognon claiming that the Public Prosecutor had issued a warrant for the arrest of another Member of Parliament, Jacques Ehoua. 

On 28th January 2019, interim secretary general of Coalition des indignés de Côte d’Ivoire (CICI), a political pressure group, Daleba Nahounou was requested to appear in front of an investigating judge, and was charged with 'spreading false news'. According to the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) the charges relate to a Facebook post by Nahounou accusing authorities of abuse of power. 

Previously, on 8th November 2018, online activist Soro Tangboho was arbitrarily detained in the city of Korogho. According to Tangboho - also known under the name Carton Noir, he was subjected to torture at the police station for having streamed a video, on Facebook, of police officers racketeering car drivers. 

Kiné Fatim Diop of Amnesty International commented:

"Freedom of expression violations may not only undermine social peace, but also hinder the right of access to and free dissemination of information in a tense political context, one year away from the presidential election. Authorities must drop charges against Alain Lobognon and Soro Tangboho, and release them immediately and unconditionally." (translated from French)

Peaceful Assembly

Protests against ICC acquittal of former president Gbagbo and Blé Gaudé

Following the decision to acquit ex-president Laurent Gbagbo and his co-accused, former minister Charles Blé Gaudé by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 15th January 2019, protests erupted in the northern cities of Côte d'Ivoire on 17th January to condemn ICC's decision. In the city of Korhogo traffic was paralysed when about one hundred people, claiming to be victims of the post-electoral crisis in 2010-2011, protested. In a similar vein, about one hundred people protested in the city of Bouaké, blocking traffic and burning tyres on a central roundabout. According to media reports, there had been a protest the previous day, on 16th January 2019, in the suburb of Abobo in Côte d'Ivoire.

The ICC trial of former president Gbagbo and former minister Blé Gaudé, accused of four counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, started in 2016. At least 3,000 people died and at least 150 women were raped during the six month long post-election violence in 2010-2011, which was often fought along ethnic, political and religious lines. As reported previously on the Monitor, several civil society groups made serious reservations on the announcement of president Ouattara, in August 2018, to grant amnesty to about 800 people convicted or accused of crimes during the 2010-2011 post-electoral violence. 

Drissa Traoré of the Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’Homme (FIDH) commented:

"Between the order of amnesty of President Ouattara and the acquittal of Gbagbo and Blé Goudé, the impunity risks being total for the crimes of 2010-2011. The Ivorian Government and the international community are preparing to leave 3000 victims and their families without any prospect of justice." (translated from French)

Series of strikes in education and health sectors

A five-day long strike by teachers in public primary and pre-schools started on 10th December 2018, which led to several schools being closed. The strike was organised by seven trade unions, united in coalition ISEPP-CI (Intersyndicale de l’enseignement préscolaire et primaire de Côte d’Ivoire). Their demands include the abolition of courses on Wednesday, the organisation of a competition for entry to teaching in grades C3, B3, A3 and A4, the promotion of assistant and other teachers and the increment of the housing allowance. Previously, from 20th to 22nd November 2018, a strike called by the Coalition de syndicats du secteur éducation-formation (COSEF; Coalition of trade unions of the education and formation sector) aimed at demanding, among other, the abolition of courses on Wednesdays and the increase of housing allowances for pre-school, primary and secondary school teachers. On 22nd January 2019, a new strike by teachers of public secondary schools, called by COSEF, was largely followed in Abidjan and some other localities such as Gagnoa, according to media reports.

After more than a month, professors and teachers at the Félix Houphouët Boigny University in Abidjan ended their strike on 17th October 2018.

On 10th November 2018, health workers (nurses, assistant nurses, midwives, technicians and administrative officers) commenced a five-day strike to demand increases in their wages and bonuses, and improvements in their statute. The strike, called upon by the 12 trade unions' platform in the health sector Coordi-santé (Coordination des centrales du secteur de la santé de Côte d’Ivoire), was followed by two-thirds of the health workers and affected 9 out of 10 public health centers, according to a spokesperson of Coordi-santé.

According to Koaci.com, a protest by a group of drivers and unions erupted in commune of Abobo in Abidjan on 3rd December 2018 following a vehicle parts control operation by police officers, leading to blocked roads. Police officers allegedly used tear gas.