Former ISHR trainee suffers attacks and death threats in Côte d'Ivoire

27.01.2014

ISHR and WAHRDN are deeply concerned at a series of threats and attacks against a former ISHR trainee, Mr Claver Touré, as a result of his work on LGBTI issues in the country. 

(Geneva and Lomé) – The government and officials in Côte d’Ivoire must take immediate steps to prevent and ensure accountability for attacks against those who defend the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, the International Service for Human Rights and the West African Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN) said today.

ISHR and WAHRDN are deeply concerned at a series of threats and attacks against a former ISHR trainee, Mr Claver Touré, as a result of his work on LGBTI issues in the country.

Since 20 January Mr Touré and his colleagues have received numerous death threats. On 20 January, Mr Touré’s home was attacked. On 22, 23 and 25 January, mobs of around 60 people surrounded the offices of Alternative – Côte d’Ivoire, the LGBT organisation where Mr Touré works, chanting homophobic slogans, throwing stones, and causing widespread damage.

ISHR and WAHRDN are deeply concerned at the coordinated and systematised nature of the attacks against Mr Touré and Alternative – Côte d’Ivoire, together with the large number of perpetrators involved in the attacks.

ISHR and WARHDN are also deeply concerned that, although Mr Touré has alerted the police, he has not been given sufficient protection and remains fearful of returning home. Fearing for their lives, Mr Touré and his colleagues have suspended their activities and for the moment most of them remain in hiding.

‘Attacks of this nature are a clear attempt to silence the voice of defenders who are working to secure the rights of the most marginalised groups in society. The government of Côte d’Ivoire should not only condemn these attacks, but ensure that they are promptly and thoroughly investigated and that perpetrators are held to account’, said ISHR’s head of LGBT rights, Dr Heather Collister.

Although, unlike many African nations, Côte d’Ivoire has never criminalised same-sex relationships, there is no legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation. There have also been reports of deliberate targeting of LGBT people by the police, while complaints are not filed for fear of reprisals.

‘ISHR regrets that the Government has failed to take steps to counter stigimatisation and abuse of the LGBTI community in Côte d’Ivoire,’ said Clement Voulé, Director of ISHR’s Africa programme.

In its 2010 review at the Universal Periodic Review, State representatives agreed to take measures to ensure non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, but they rejected a proposal that they should start awareness-raising programmes, because it was not a “current priority”.

‘The government has an obligation to protect people from all forms of discrimination and violence, including on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Awareness-raising is an important step in this respect,’ said Mr Voulé.

‘It is also the government’s responsibility to ensure that the rights in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders are guaranteed. This means creating an enabling environment that ensures that defenders are able to carry out their legitimate work without fear,’ Mr Voulé said.

ISHR and WAHRDN reiterates calls made on the authorities of Côte d’Ivoire by Frontline to:

  • undertake an immediate investigation into the attacks on Mr Touré’s home and the premises of Alternative – Côte d’Ivoire;
  • take immediate measures to ensure Mr Touré’s safety and that of his colleagues, and ensure that the threats cease immediately; and
  • ensure that all human rights defenders in Côte d’Ivoire are able to operate without fear of reprisals in the exercise of their legitimate activities in defence of human rights.

Contacts:

International Service for Human Rights: Heather Collister, Program Manager (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) h.collister@ishr.ch or +41 799203805; Clement Voulé, Head of African Commission Advocacy c.voule@ishr.ch

West and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network: Solange Fiaty oliviafiaty@yahoo.fr; Diallo Gadiry abdoul.3003@yahoo.com  

Category:

Region
  • Africa
Topic
  • Human rights defenders
  • LGBT rights
Country
  • Ivory Coast