Some 30 opposition party supporters arrested in 1995, including possible prisoners of conscience, were detained throughout the year. At least 19 Liberian nationals continued to be held without charge or trial. Several people were killed by the security forces in circumstances suggesting excessive use of force.

In September opposition parties protested publicly against several constitutional changes including the extension of the presidential term from five to seven years, and an amendment allowing an incumbent President to extend his term of office indefinitely, should conditions not be suitable for the organization of presidential elections.

Some 30 opposition party supporters, including possible prisoners of conscience, sentenced in connection with political unrest that followed presidential elections in October 1995, remained in detention throughout the year (see Amnesty International Reports 1996 to 1998). All were released after an amnesty was approved by the National Assembly at the end of December.

At least 19 Liberian nationals, who had been held without trial since 1995, continued to be detained in the penal camp in Bouaké. None had been formally charged, but it was believed that some may have been arrested on suspicion of involvement with armed attacks from Liberia. The detainees had no access to a lawyer. Several were sick and at least three had reportedly died in custody as a result of the harsh prison conditions, inadequate food and lack of access to medical treatment.

Several people were killed by the security forces in circumstances suggesting excessive use of force. In February a policeman shot dead a passenger in a car that did not stop at traffic lights. No inquiry was opened into the case. In May Elele Sombo Magès, a 17-year-old student, was killed by a member of the security forces in a school in Anyama, 10 kilometres north of Abidjan, during clashes between students and the police at the school. One policeman was arrested and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for the killing.

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