Central African Republic
Note: Group 11 is holding a fundraiser on Monday, May 18th. Please join us!
Group 11 pays special attention to the Central African Republic since we have a member from that country who led human rights activities there and was persecuted. At present Amnesty’s focus is on the demand for accountability of former political leaders in CAR who are responsible for vast human rights abuses during and after the recent civil war. If such perpetrators are not brought to justice, others will think they can get away with it too. Group 11 sends letters to US officials such as the Secretary of State and the Assistant Secretary heading the Bureau of African Affairs, calling upon the US government to be active in the campaign to end impunity for war crimes perpetrators. We also call upon them to support the international peace keepers in CAR, who are not there in sufficient force to protect civilians. Following is a brief summary of conditions in CAR and links to reports.
Michel Djotodia, former CAR president and human rights violator
The Central African Republic (CAR) has experienced a human rights crisis since March 2013 when the Séléka armed coalition seized power and installed Michel Djotodia as President. The legacy of Djotodia’s 10 months rule saw the complete breakdown of law and order, the rise of retaliatory attacks on civilians, and human rights violations including extrajudicial executions, torture, rape of women and young girls, pillaging, and the recruitment of child soldiers. The human rights abuses and humanitarian crisis continue to this day, despite the cease-fire signed in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo on July 23rd, 2014.Amnesty International has created an action you can participate in which calls on U.S. President Barack Obama and Thomas YayiBoni, the President of Benin, where Djotodia is in exile, to ensure that Djotodia is investigated for his role in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Here is the action online: http://amnestyusa.org/CARwarcrimes For more in-depth information, please see the recent report published by Amnesty International entitled Central African Republic: Time for Accountability and found here.Also see this New Yorker article for additional background about the C.A.R.
Ebrima Manneh, Prisoner of Conscience (The Gambia)
Journalist Ebrima Manneh was arrested in July 2006 by officers believed to be from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). He has been missing ever since. There are conflicting reports for the reason of his arrest. According to some sources, he was arrested following a disagreement with the managing editor of the Daily Observer, a close ally of President Yahya Jammeh. Other sources claim that he was arrested after he attempted to give information to a foreign journalist that was deemed damaging to the country’s image. And finally, other sources link his arrest to his alleged attempt to print a report critical of the government in the Daily Observer. While the exact reason for his arrest is unknown, it is clear that Ebrima Manneh is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. Group 11 is deeply concerned about his safety and, as a prisoner of conscience, calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
Our efforts in Cameroon are directed at redressing the mistreatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersexual (LGBTI) inividuals. Although we recognize some recent progress in this area, notably the acquittal on appeal of two citizens condemned to 5 years in prison in 2011, we are deeply concerned that LGBTI people are still victims of harassment, arrest, or imprisonment. Several people suspected of homosexuality are in detention based on section 347a of the Cameroonian penal code, which punishes sexual relations between those of the same sex with imprisonment of up to 5 years. Such action contradicts Cameroon’s obligations under both the International Pact of Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter of the Rights of Man and Peoples.
We are particularly alarmed at the deaths of the journalist Eric Llembembe Ohena, a homosexual rights activist in Cameroon, and of Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, a well known homosexual whose sufferings in prison proved fatal. We are also concerned that at least 6 imprisoned Cameroonians face the risk of attacks and ill treatment from their fellow inmates, because of their presumed sexual orientation. In light of these facts, Group 11 has sent letters to the authorities in Cameroon, notably President Biya, calling for strong official opposition to homophobia by abrogation of section 347a of the penal code and immediately and unconditionally releasing people imprisoned because of their presumed or actual sexual orientation. We urge the government to protect the rights of all LBGTI people; to fully investigate the deaths of Eric Lembembe Ohena and Jean-Claude Roger Mdebe; to see that crimes and acts of homophobia do not continue; and to legally recognize the organizations that support the rights of LGBTI people.