February 6, 2008

Monsieur le Ministre
Monsieur Thierry MALEYOMBO
Ministre de la Justice, Garde des sceaux
Ministère de la Justice
BP 732
BANGUI, République centrafricaine
Fax: + 236 21 611579/ 613198

Monsieur le Ministre
Monsieur Cyriaque GONDA.  
Ministre de la Communication, chargé du Dialogue national
Ministère de la Communication   
BP 1290
BANGUI, République centrafricaine   
Fax: + 236 21 615985

Monsieur le Procureur de la République
Monsieur Firmin FEINDIRO
Procureur de la République
Parquet de Bangui
BP 2891
BANGUI, République centrafricaine
Fax : +236 21 614478

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 Members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our grave concern regarding the detention of journalist Faustin Bambou.

According to our information, Faustin Bambou, editor of the privately owned weekly Les Collines de l‘Oubangu I was arrested on January 11, 2008, on charges of libel, insult, and incitement to revolt. It is understood that the charges came as a direct result of the weekly’s publication of a December 2007 article alleging corruption on the part of two government ministers. When Mr. Bambou’s trial began on January 21, his defense team withdrew from the case in protest of the trial judge’s refusal to accept their submissions that the prosecution was abusing legal procedure. The team had argued that Mr. Bambou should have been charged under the provisions of the 2004 press law, which protects journalists from being imprisoned for activities related to their work, and not under ordinary criminal law. The trial proceeded without Mr. Bambou being given an opportunity to appoint or being offered alternative legal counsel. He has appealed his conviction and sentence but it is not known when the appeal will be heard.

PEN American Center believes Faustin Bambou has been detained in violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We therefore respectfully call for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the full implementation of the 2004 press law.

Thank you for your attention.

Hannah Pakula                  
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee   

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

Cc: Monsieur Dieudonné Kombo Yay
Ministre des Affaires étrangères, de l’Intégration Régionale et de la Francophonie
Ministère des Affaires étrangères
BP 930
BANGUI. République centrafricaine
Fax: + 236 21 613965

Ambassador Emmanuel TOUABOY
1618 22nd Street
NW, Washington, DC 20008
Fax: [1] (202) 332-9893

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