Amnesty International urges action against corruption in West Africa

Amnesty International said Tuesday that West and Central African nations must do more to fight corruption and stop “persecuting” human rights defenders who reveal and denounce it.

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In a report launched for African Anti-Corruption Day, the organisation denounced the “arrest, harassment, detention, hefty fines and even death” of human rights defenders who fight corruption in 19 West and Central African countries.


“These individuals play a critical role in fighting corruption and thus defending human rights. Yet they routinely endure attacks, intimidation, harassment, and persecution for exposing the truth,” said Agnes Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International.

The rights group cited the example of Cameroonian journalist Martinez Zogo, who it said had been investigating alleged embezzlement of hundreds of billions of CFA francs by people close to the government.

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Zogo was abducted by unidentified men on January 17, and his body was later found mutilated in a “wasteland” outside the country’s capital.

In Togo, journalist Ferdinand Ayite was arrested on December 10, 2021, after having accused two members of the government of corruption.

He was sentenced on March 15, along with a colleague, to three years in prison and fined 3 million CFA francs (around $5,000) for “contempt of authorities” and “propagation of falsehoods”, Amnesty said.

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Ayite and his colleague appealed the decision but ultimately had to flee the country for their safety, it added.

Callamard called on governments in the region to “address the pervasive culture of impunity that continues to fuel endemic corruption… and denies victims access to justice”.

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Amnesty demanded that states adopt laws, policies and practices that “robustly protect against corruption”.


© Agence France-Presse

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