Serious threats against several human rights defenders17
In early January 2006, several human rights defenders were threatened following the unrest arising from the assassination of Second Lieutenant Wilfrid Yango Kapita, who was shot dead by Staff-Sergeant Jean-Claude Sanzé during an altercation on the night of January 2 to 3, 2006. On January 3, 2006, Mr. Sanzé was removed from the prison where he was held in custody, tortured and murdered by friends of Mr. Yango Kapita, on the very premises of the Investigation and Intelligence Services (Service de renseignements et d'investigation – SRI).
On the same day, the home of Mr. Nicolas Tiangaye was ransacked and looted. Mr. Tiangaye, for whom Mr. Sanzé had served as an aide-de-camp, is a prominent lawyer and former president of the Central African League for Human Rights (Ligue centrafricaine des droits de l'Homme – LCDH), former leader of the Central African Bar Association and former chairman of the National Transitional Council.
During a meeting held at the Kwa Na Kwa ("Work and work only"- KNK, a political group supporting the President of the Republic) headquarters, Mr. Célestin Dogo, a military officer suspected of assassinations and other human rights violations, declared that he was ready to "settle the score" with Mr. Nganatouwa Goungaye Wanfiyo, a lawyer and LCDH president.
On January 4, 2006, Mr. Adolphe Ngouyombo, chair of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Action Movement (Mouvement pour les droits de l'Homme et d'action humanitaire – MDDH), and Mr. Adolphe Ngouyombo, a journalist, president of the Central African Journalists' Union (Union des journalistes centrafricains – UJCA) and editor-in-chief of the daily Le Citoyen who had published an article denouncing human rights abuses perpetrated by militaries, received multiple threatening phone calls.
Finally, on January 10, 2006, Mr. Emile Ndjapou, a magistrate and president of the litigation department of the State Council, received threats after he participated in a meeting convened by ECOSEFAD, an association promoting fundamental freedoms. During this meeting, Mr. Ndjapou had addressed the human rights situation and the peace process in the country, and had strongly criticized the attitude of the army. Later that day, a military vehicule stopped in front of his home and attempted to break open his portal. Mr. Ndjapou's son managed to scare the assailants away by switching the lights off and setting guard dogs on them.
Smear campaign against human rights defenders18
On March 15, 2006, the President of the Republic General François Bozizé commemorated the third anniversary of his accession to power and described human rights defenders as "protectors of criminals", during a speech delivered in Mbaiki town.
On August 25, 2006, during an audience granted to the Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People (Mouvement pour la libération du peuple centrafricain – MLPC, opposition party), President Bozizé reportedly mentioned his meeting with an FIDH delegation on June 16, 2006, stating that he had been about to "stab" Mr. Nganatouwa Goungaye Wanfiyo, who took part in the meeting as an FIDH delegate.
In addition, on the occasion of the country's national day celebrated on December 1, 2006, Mr. François Bozizé delivered a speech to the Nation in which he notably accused magistrates, human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents of "undermining the country's development".
In particular, Mr. Bozizé claimed that "human rights leaders in the CAR tend to consider human rights as their own doing, which is a plain lie (...). Defenders in this country hide behind the notion of human rights to engage in politics. If they want to act like politicians, all they have to do is to create their own political party and let others address human rights for the real good of the population (...). It is absolutely unbearable that certain persons today can rise and lie like this, not only protecting people who actually killed but also shouting loud and open that human rights violations are perpetrated here and there, thereby protecting criminals (...). Defending human rights means nothing but to respect one's neighbour, his country and the Head of State. But every time, these people brandish human rights to insult the Nation (...). Is this human rights? It is unworthy of a human rights representative to insult his country and the President of the Republic and then rejoice at it (...). Some people distort the very concept of human rights out of sheer dishonesty".
Mr. Bozizé further blamed the independent press for "writing nonsense about the country's situation" and stated that "it is neither normal nor accectable to regularly splash the country's worse features across the front page".
Robbery of OCODEFAD documents and harassment of its members19
On August 3, 2006, three armed men broke into the home of Mrs. Bernadette Sayo Nzale, president of the Organisation for Compassion and Development for Families in Distress (Organisation pour la compassion et le développement des familles en détresse – OCODEFAD). These individuals stole the organisation's computer, several USB memory sticks and other documents relating to OCODEFAD activities, including its quarterly report and a list of victims' names. However, all other valuable goods were left behind. A neighbour later claimed that he had recognised at least one of the thieves who had been lurking around Mrs. Sayo Nzale's house for the past few days. The burglars operated in clear daylight, while the house caretaker and occupants were out.
OCODEFAD documents were stolen a week after the association, in a press release issued on July 29, 2006, protested against a project of general amnesty for the perpetrators of human rights violations committed in the country since 2002. This request was introduced before the Parliament on July 28, 2006 by Pastor Josué Binoua, a politician, in the name of national reconciliation. Following the publication of the OCODEFAD press release, its president and members received numerous anonymous threats.
On August 4, 2006, Mrs. Sayo Nzale filed a complaint for theft with the territorial brigade of the military police.
On August 9, 2006 however, OCODEFAD's lawyer, Mr. Mathias Morouba, who requested a copy of the complaint, was told that it had gone missing.
Serious threats against Mr. Bruno-Hyacinthe Gbiegba20
On September 29, 2006, Mr. Bruno-Hyacinthe Gbiegba, a lawyer and chairman of the Central African section of the Action by Christians Against Torture (Action des chrétiens pour l'abolition de la torture – ACAT-RCA), was approached by an unidentified individual who informed him that two "former liberators", who had supported President Bozizé during his coup in March 2003, "were about to attack him personally" as he was allegedly "hiding behind his human rights activities to oppose the regime". These two men had been condemned to a six-month suspended prison sentence for assault and battery against one of Mr. Gbiegba's clients in March 2006.
On September 19, 2006, several national human rights organisations, including ACAT-RCA and LCDH, had issued a press release denouncing the arbitrary detention of 14 persons, who had been prosecuted and acquitted for "criminal conspiracy" and "complicity in conspiracy", in connection with the ongoing rebellion in the north of the country against President Bozizé's government. Following intense protest and mobilisation of lawyers and civil society, these 14 persons were released on September 25, 2006.
[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]
17. See Urgent Appeal CAF 001/0106/OBS 008.
18. See Urgent Appeals CAF 002/1006/OBS 120 and CAF 003/1206/OBS 148.
19. See Urgent Appeal CAF 001/0905/OBS 086.1.