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Ivory Coast: Threat against human rights defender Mr Ehounou kan Laurent Manlan
On 24 May 2012, Mr Ehounou kan Laurent Manlan received a threatening email from an unknown individual. This episode follows several other threats received by the human rights defender since January 2012, including anonymous phone calls.
Ehounou Manlan is a judge and President of Transparency Justice, an organisation dedicated to fighting judicial corruption.
The email, which appeared on the morning of 24 May in the personal inbox of Ehounou Manlan, threatened him as follows: "You have aimed very high, but rest assured that we will not allow you to act as you wish. Go and change your email, your computer and even your name but do not want to forget that we control everything. Your best bet is to return to reason, if you rebel, we will track you down and you know that accidents happens so quickly ...You have such a nice little family [...].".
These threats are believed to be in response to the position taken by Transparency Justice in relation to an ongoing trial (Public Prosecutor v Sabraoui) and the presiding of the case by the Court of Appeal of Abidjan, notably the intervention of the First President of the Court who reportedly altered the time alloted for the deliberation of another judge of the same court, outside of the normal legal procedure.
Transparency Justice had planned to make a statement in relation to this in April 2012. A few days before the expected date of the circulation of the statement, Ehounou Manlan received two anonymous threatening phone calls. The statement was nonetheless released on 5 April 2012, in front of an audience of several ambassadors, including from Canada, the US and Germany. A similar episode involving threats occurred in March 2012, and at the time Ehounou Manlan did not proceed with the declaration.
The fact that threats were received before the publication of the Transparency Justice' statement on 5 April 2012 suggests that Ehounou Manlan's communications may be under surveillance. Moreover, according to Transparency Justice, on 14 and 15 May 2012, unidentified individuals hijacked funds secured for a project of theirs which was funded by the European Union. Following the hacking of Ehounou Manlan's email and the securing of his personal identification documents which had been previously sent to project partners, the individuals reportedly succeeded in obtaining funds totalling €15,000.
Front Line Defenders expresses its concern over the threats directed against Ehounou Manlan and his family, which appear to be directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work against the malfunctioning and corruption of the judicial system.