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Côte d'Ivoire: Break-in at offices of human rights organisation Transparency Justice
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, Front Line Defenders believes 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.