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Oct-23-2012 14:44printcomments

Côte d'Ivoire: Break-in at Offices of Human Rights Organisation Transparency Justice

Ivory Coast group has five desktop computers and cash stolen stolen during early morning break in.

Ehounou kan Laurent Manlan
Ehounou kan Laurent Manlan

(SALEM) - It is amazing how in this day and age, so many people in so many countries are still dealing with human rights violations. Sadly, the African nation we Americans call Ivory Coast is no exception.

But even more staggering are the number of human rights agencies and activists who are directly targeted as a result of their work.

We can act like we "don't know why" thieves would go directly for company computers, with information about human rights operations and people, but we know why.

Information is valuable in a war and they are in a war, fighting against criminally oriented governments that practice state terrorism on a daily basis in full and even glaring violation of international human rights laws.

What we know about this case, is that in the early morning hours on 18 October 2012, four unknown assailants made access to the offices of Transparency Justice by climbing a fence.

A night guard was overpowered, tied up with a hood around his head. The assailants were armed, at least one of them reportedly carrying an AK 47 (Kalashnikov) gun.

Consequently, the attackers entered the building in which Transparency Justice’s offices are housed, broke into the inside doors of the NGO and stole the five desktop computers, one projector and an unspecified amount of cash.

President; Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; Minister of Defence
Office of the President
Palais de la Présidence
01 BP 1354
Abidjan 01
Côte d’Ivoire

Your Excellency,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for

I came to know about the situation from .

In the early morning of 18 October 2012, four unknown armed assailants broke into the offices of Transparency Justice, a non-governmental organisation headed by human rights defender Mr Ehounou kan Laurent Manlan. The assailants stole five desktop computers, a projector and an unspecified amount of cash funds. Ehounou Manlan is a judge and the President of Transparency Justice, an organisation dedicated to fighting corruption in the judiciary.

On 18 October 2012, around 3am, four unknown assailants appeared at the offices of Transparency Justice, climbing the fence and entering the premises. A night guard was present, but he was caught by surprise by the attackers and tied up with a hood around his head. The assailants were armed, at least one of them reportedly carrying an AK 47 (Kalashnikov) gun. Consequently, the attackers entered the building in which Transparency Justice’s offices are housed, broke into the inside doors of the NGO and stole a total of five desktop computers which the organisation used for its work, one projector and an unspecified amount of cash money from a grant the organisation had been awarded. Around 6am, the night guard was finally able to call for help. On that same morning, just after learning about the incident, Transparency Justice approached the local police to file a complaint. It has been established that the police promptly dispatched a forensic team to the premises.

Earlier in the year, Ehounou Manlan received an anonymous threat against himself and his family, sent by e-mail to his personal inbox on 24 May 2012. On 14 and 15 May 2012, anonymous hackers managed to extract personal financial details from the human rights defender’s e-mail correspondence and succeeded in obtaining €15,000 of EU funds destined for Transparency Justice. A few days before a statement by Transparency Justice on suspected corruption in an ongoing case was scheduled to be published, on 5 April 2012, Ehounou Manlan had also received threats. The statement was published, however, unlike a previous occasion in March 2012 where threats against the human rights defender had resulted in a decision not to proceed with a statement.

The offices of Transparency Justice had previously been targeted by night-time assailants: once in 2009, when a night guard on duty managed to scare off the assailants, and once in 2007, when seven computers were taken during a break-in at the premises.

In the light of the history of break-ins at the offices of Transparency Justice and the recent threats against Ehounou Manlan, I believe this new incident may be connected to the work of Transparency Justice in fighting corruption in the judiciary, especially given that it coincides with the suspension of eight magistrates.

I urge the authorities in Côte d’Ivoire to:

1. Ensure that the ongoing investigation into the break-in at the offices of Transparency Justice be thorough and impartial, with a view to bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Ehounou Manlan, as well as all other employees of Transparency Justice;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Côte d’Ivoire are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for

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______________________________ Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.

He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.

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