International PEN protests the six-month prison sentence imposed on Faustin Bambou, editor of the privately owned weekly Les Collines de l‘Oubangui on January 28, 2008. The charges of libel, insult, and incitement to revolt came as a direct result of the weekly’s publication of a December 2007 article alleging corruption on the part of two government ministers. Bambou’s defense argued that the editor should not have been charged under ordinary criminal law but under the 2004 press law, which protects journalists from being imprisoned for their work, but this petition was rejected.

PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Bambou, and the full implementation of the 2004 press law.

Background Information

Faustin Bambou was arrested by gendarmes on January 11, 2008, and detained at the Gendarmerie’s Research and Investigation Department before being transferred to Ngaragba prison in the capital, Bangui. He was charged with inciting revolt, insult, and slander related to an article published on December 21, 2007, by his newspaper, Les Collines de l’Oubangui, alleging that two government ministers had embezzled funds that could have been used to pay government employees’ salary arrears.  
 
When he began his trial on January 21, his defense team withdrew from the case in protest of the judge’s refusal to accept their submissions that the prosecution were abusing legal procedure. In November 2004, the National Assembly of the Central African Republic adopted a law that protects journalists from imprisonment for activities related to their work. Bambou's defense team therefore argued that Bambou should have been charged under the provisions of the 2004 law and not under ordinary criminal law. The trial proceeded without Bambou being given an opportunity to appoint or being offered alternative legal counsel. On January 28, Bambou was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and a symbolic fine of one CFA Franc (equivalent to 0.2 U.S. cents) by the High Court. He has appealed his conviction and sentence but it is not known when the appeal will be heard.

Write A Letter

  • calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Faustin Bambou, whom PEN considers to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for his peaceful and legitimate activities as a journalist; requesting that authorities ensure that Faustin Bambou is allowed to appeal his conviction and sentence, and that he is allowed adequate opportunity and facilities to obtain legal counsel to prepare his appeal;
  • urging authorities to ensure that journalists are not imprisoned for exercising the right to freedom of expression and to adhere to the 2004 law governing press freedom.

Send Your Letter To

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

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

Prosecutor
Monsieur Firmin FEINDIRO                
Procureur de la République                
Parquet de Bangui
BP 2891
BANGUI, République centrafricaine
Fax : +236 21 614478
E-mail: ffeindiro@yahoo.fr
Salutation: Monsieur le Procureur de la République

And to diplomatic representatives of the Central African Republic (CAR) accredited to your country.
 
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after March 13, 2008.