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ILO condemns continued detention of jailed Ivory Coast union leader Basile Mahan Gahé

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Basil has now been in detention for more than one year.

The ILO has called on the government of Ivory Coast to release jailed union leader Basile Mahan Gahé in the latest report of the ILO's Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, published in connection with the March 2012 session of the ILO's Governing Body. The Committee referred to Basile Gahé's April 2011 abduction, torture and detention as "a grave violation of the principle of freedom of association", adding that "a genuinely free and independent trade union movement can develop only if fundamental human rights are respected."

Act now! -- click here to send a message to President Ouattara.

Furthermore, the report notes, The guarantees set out in international labour Conventions, particularly those relating to freedom of association, can be effective only if the civil and political rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are genuinely recognized." The Committee called on the government of Ivory coast "to state the charges brought against Mr Gahé and to indicate whether he has been released pending trial." Basile Mahan Gahé remains imprisoned in the remote town of Boundiali - some 700 kilometers from the capital Abidjan - together with common criminals. Following an ILO mission in June 2011, absurd charges were announced - sedition, insurrectionary activity etc. - and he was transferred from Abidjan to his cell in Boundiali. He has not been brought to trial, he is isolated off from his family, colleagues, lawyers and international visitors and the government has failed to respond to international calls for his freedom. The ILO has now formally added its voice to these international protests.

The ILO's references to fundamental human rights instruments - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights - should remind the transnational companies who rely on cocoa sourced from the Ivory Coast that the massive presence of child labour in cocoa production is not the only ongoing human rights scandal in that country. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights require companies to take stock of the human rights risks in their supply chains and to engage in corrective action. No cocoa trader or confectionery maker can say they didn't know that the government they deal with is arbitrarily and harshly imprisoning a national trade union leader. What are they doing about it? Amnesty International considers Basile Mahan Gahé a prisoner at risk of torture.

Act now! -- click here to send a message to President Ouattara (with copies to Ivory Coast embassies in France and Belgium) calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Basile Mahan Gahé. We also urge you to send copies of your message to the Ivory Coast diplomatic representation in your country (a list is available here) and to the Ivory Coast's Interior and Justice Ministers:

Minister of Interior Hamed Bakayoko
Ministry of Interior
Abidjan Côte d'Ivoire
Fax: +225 20 32 32 27

Minister of Justice Me Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou
Ministry of Justice
Abidjan Côte d'Ivoire
Fax: +225 20 21 85 10

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