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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press release on judicial harassment and acts of intimidation against Vandalark Patricks


The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Honourable Reine Alapini-Gansou, wishes to express her concern regarding the acts of judicial harassment and intimidation against Mr. Vandalark Patricks.

Vandalark Patricks is the National Director of SURE-Liberia (Campaigners for Change), a national civil rights organization working in the field of human rights protection, gender-based violence, youth and women development and empowerment, and civic education.

According to information we received, on 19 March 2016, Vandalark Patricks was taken to the hospital, following the deterioration of his health since his arrest. He had been released on bail on 1 March 2016 from Monrovia Central Prison, having spent over a week in pre-trial detention.

It is reported that he had been arrested on 23 February 2016 by police officers of the Liberia National Police and the National Security Agency (NSA) while participating in a meeting at a local civil society centre in Monrovia.  It is alleged that immediately after his arrest, he was taken to the Liberia National Police Headquarters where he was physically and psychologically tortured by police officers. It is further alleged that on his way to Monrovia Central Prison, he was injected with an unknown substance by the police officers who were escorting him to the prison.

It is has been reported to us that his arrest was related to a communication he had read out on behalf of a consortium of civil society organisations, urging civil society to take part in a march scheduled to take place on 11 March 2016 to call for justice and accountability for the killings of several human rights defenders and activists.

We are particularly concerned with the current situation, which endangers the moral and physical integrity of Vandalark Patricks, and contributes to straining the peaceful work of other human rights defenders in the Republic of Liberia.

The Special Rapporteur condemns such practices which undoubtedly constitute violations of international human rights law.

The Special Rapporteur wishes to remind the Government of Liberia of its obligation to promote and protect the work of human rights defenders in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Grand Bay and Kigali declarations, as well as other international legal instruments ratified by the Republic of Liberia.

The Special Rapporteur wishes to call upon the Government of the Republic of Liberia to intervene in the matter and ensure that thorough and impartial investigations are carried out into the circumstances of the allegations of torture against Vandalark Patricks; that he is examined by an independent medical practitioner in order to determine the best medical treatment for him; and that other human rights defenders in Liberia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

 

Done in Banjul, on 1 April 2016

Honourable Reine Alapini-Gansou

Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa