Amnesty International Report 1998 - Comoros
|Publication Date||1 January 1998|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1998 - Comoros, 1 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9fb14.html [accessed 24 August 2016]|
(This report covers the period January-December 1997)
Several people were killed in possible extrajudicial executions by government troops dispersing political demonstrations. One person convicted of murder was executed. Two other people remained under sentence of death.
Social and political unrest resulted in the killing of civilians and government troops. Some of the deaths of civilians appeared to be possible extrajudicial executions. In January teachers and civil servants staged a series of peaceful demonstrations in Moroni, the capital, asking to be paid salary arrears and for their positions to be regularized. Thirty people were reportedly injured when the army used live ammunition to disperse one demonstration and 10 people sustained gunshot wounds. In the same month, members of the presidential guard destroyed shops and restaurants in Moroni in what the government said was a measure to enforce the Islamic law against alcohol. In March government soldiers fired into a crowd of unarmed demonstrators, killing four people and injuring 20 others, while breaking up a three-day strike on Anjouan Island. There was apparently no official investigation into the incident.
On 3 August a separatist movement on Anjouan island led by Said Mohamed Souef declared that it was no longer part of the Comoros islands, but rather part of the former colonial power, France. On 11 August another group of separatists announced the independence of the island of Moheli. In September the federal army crossed to the island of Anjouan to restore order, but clashed violently with groups of separatists. One civilian and three soldiers were reportedly killed.
In August a mediator from the Organization of African Unity was sent to the Comoros to negotiate between the political factions and to organize a conference to find "a consensual solution which respects the aspirations of all Comorians and maintain unity and territorial integrity". The conference took place in December, but no solution had been found by the end of the year.
In May Saidali Mohamed was executed by firing-squad after an Islamic court found him guilty of murder. As in the previous year when a man was executed for a similar offence, Saidali Mohamed was denied the right of appeal to a higher court and was not represented by legal counsel (see Amnesty International Report 1997). Mohamed Sahali and Youssouf Hamadi spent a second year under sentence of death.
Amnesty International condemned the increasing use of the death penalty and reiterated its appeal to President Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarim to commute all death sentences and to abolish the death penalty. Amnesty International expressed concern about the lack of fair trial safeguards for people accused of offences punishable by death. The organization appealed to the government to issue strict instructions to the security forces to prevent the ill-treatment of demonstrators and to prohibit the use of excessive force in law enforcement.