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Urgent Interventions

Guinea-Bissau : arrest and detention of the vice-president of the Guinean League of Human Rights


GNB 001 / 0203 / OBS 006
Arbitrary detention
3 February 2003

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint
program of FIDH and OMCT, requests your URGENT intervention in the
following situation in Guinea-Bissau.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Guinean League of Human
Rights, of the arrest and detention of its Vice-president, Mr. Joao
Vas Mane on January 29, 2003, based on an order delivered by the
security services.

According to the information received, on January 28, 2003, Mr. Mane,
who was taking part in a Bombolon radio show, "Palavers of Peace",
allegedly accused President Kumba Yala to have mobilized funds for
the pilgrims trip to the Mecca for political and personal ends when
civil servants of the State have not been paid in 4 to 7 months.

In a clandestine interview given to the Portuguese radio, Mr. Mane
said not to have been in contact with his family or with his lawyer
since his arrest. On January 30, at 1:00 in the morning, he was
taken out of his prison cell to be questioned until 4:00 in the

To this date, Mr. Joao Vas Mane is held incommunicado and has still
not been presented before the judge.

The Observatory notes that these facts occur in a context of
radicalisation of the governmental policy since the dissolution of
the Parliament on November 16, 2002 and followed by the announcement
of anticipated legislative elections next April 20. This
radicalisation results particularly in the arrest and detention of
opponents, censorship in the media, systematic restrictions on the
freedom of movement imposed to opponents and members of civil
society, violent speeches and the denigration by the authorities of
all independent voices, in particular of human rights organizations,

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities of Guinea-Bissau urging them to:

i. Immediately release Mr. Joao Vas Mane in the absence of charges
against him;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity of Mr. Mane
and put an end to any form of harassment against human rights
defenders in Guinea-Bissau;

iii. Conform to the provisions of the Declaration on Humans Rights
Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on
December 9, 1998, in particular article 1, which states that
"everyone has the right, individually or in association with others,
to promote the protection and realization of human rights and
fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels";

iv. Conform to the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human
Rights and international instruments relating to Human Rights which
bind Guinea-Bissau;


President Kumba Yala
C/o Prime Minister's Office
tel/fax: 00245 20 62 06 or 00 245 20 62 05

or National Assembly
fax: 00245 20 11 72

Paris - Geneva, 3 February 2003

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the
code number of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the
protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete
support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax: FIDH : +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT : (+ 41 22) 809 49 39 / 809 49 29
E-mail :
The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to
the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer
them concrete support in time of need.

To Contact the Observatory, call The Emergency Line:
Tel: FIDH: 33 (0) 1 48 05 82 46
OMCT: 41 (0) 22 809 49 39
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