English PEN protests the one-year prison sentence imposed on activist and writer Antoine Assalé Tiémoko on 4 January 2008 after convictions for ‘libel’ and ‘contempt of court’. English PEN considers Tiémko’s imprisonment to be in direct contravention of his right to freedom of expression and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
Tiémoko, an occasional contributor to the daily Le Nouveau Réveil, was arrested on 28 December 2007 in connection to an opinion piece on judicial corruption which was published on 14 December 2007. The piece was entitled ‘Justice, criminals, and corruption’ and featured an imaginary country called Mastodon Coast, as well as coded words, anagrams and innuendo. These devices were used to question the Ivorian Minister of Justice Koné Mamadou (whose photo accompanied the piece), the State Prosecutor and various judges, accusing them of being ‘corrupt to the core’. Tiémoko wrote: ‘These senior officials take money from detainees in return for promises to pressure the investigating judges in charge of their cases’. The article concluded: ‘This is a true story. The people named really exist but any resemblance is just coincidental’.
Tiémoko, who apparently did not produce any evidence in support of his allegations during the trial, is serving his sentence in Abidjan prison. In a recent phone call with Le Nouveau Réveil, he said: ‘They will not prevent me from thinking by putting me in prison’.
Tiémoko is an activist and President of the association ‘MVPC’ that fights against unemployment and social injustice. He is not principally a journalist but has been given a prison sentence for the peaceful expression of his opinion in print.
English PEN urges the authorities to honour their commitment to freedom of expression guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ivory Coast is party.
The original piece for which Tiémoko has been sentenced can be found here
To read more of Tiémoko’s work please click here
Please send appeals:
– Expressing concern that activist Antoine Assalé Tiémoko has been sentenced to twelve months in prison for writing and publishing an opinion piece, in violation of his right to freedom of expression and opinion;
– Urging the Ivorian authorities to reconsider their decision to impose a prison sentence on Tiémoko;
– Calling for Tiémoko’s immediate and unconditional release.
H.E. Mr. Ilahiri Alcide Djedje, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Nations
46 East 74th Street, New York, NY
Phone: ( 1) (212) 717-5555
Fax: ( 1) (212) 717-4492
President Laurent Gbagbo
Monsieur le Président de la République
Palais de la Présidence au Plateau
P.O. Box: 01 BP 1354 Abidjan 01
Phone: 225 20 22 02 22
Fax : 225 20 21 14 25 / 225 2031 45 40
To send a message using the Internet, please click here
It may be more effective, however, to send the above appeal to the President via the representative of the Ivory Coast in London:
His Excellency Mr Philippe D Djangoné-Bi
Embassy of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire
2 Upper Belgrave Street
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/ivorycoastone-yearprisonsentenceforactivist/