AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL - Alleged Torture of a Cyber-activist Must Be Investigated

Yapo Ebiba François, better known as Serge Koffi Le Drone Claims he was tortured by Police

Yapo Ebiba François, better known as Serge Koffi Le Drone

Ivorian authorities must immediately launch an independent investigation into allegations of torture suffered last month by a cyber-activist on police premises, Amnesty International said today.

Yapo Ebiba François, better known as Serge Koffi Le Drone, was reportedly tortured and ill-treated from the7th to 11th May 2020 whilst in police custody on the premises of "the Unité de Lutte Contre le grand banditisme" (ULGB), in the absence of his lawyer.

On 12th May, Mr Yapo told his lawyer how he had been hit with the back of an old machete, on his feet, under the soles of his feet, in his back, and that he had also been punched and kicked, both in the face and in the stomach.

If these facts are proven, authorities must prosecute those suspected of these acts and bring them to justice in a fair trial, as they are prohibited by the country's constitution and international human rights law.

Yapo Ebiba François, a cyberactivist close to the opposition who, according to the prosecutor, had an arrest warrant was wanted based on 20 complaints. He was arrested on  May 7th 2020 by agents of the "Direction de l'Information et des Traces Technologiques (DITT),  presented to the prosecutor's office on 12 May for subsequent judicial proceedings.

The charges against him range from" National Security offences, disturbing public order, defamation and insult on social networks, dissemination of fraudulently obtained computer data, the publication of false information tending to make people believe that attacks on the population were imminent".

He is accused of having called, via a post on social networks, for the destruction of equipment intended for the construction of a Covid-19 screening centre in the Yopougon district of Abidjan. He is under a committal order at the Grand-Bassam civil prison.

According to the prosecutor, investigations into the Serge Koffi Le Drone case led to the arrest on 14 May 2020 of N'Ponon Daïpo Etienne, Secretary-General of the political platform Ensemble pour la Démocratie et la Souveraineté (EDS). He was charged and placed under a committal order by the same judge.

Côte d'Ivoire has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment and its 2019 Penal Code criminalizes torture.

Amnesty International recalls that information gathered through the use of torture can in no case be used as evidence in the course of an investigation.


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