From: Press <>
To: ICFTU Online <>
Subject: ICFTU Online: Central African Republic
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2001 12:26:17 +0200

Appeal for the respect of trade union rights

ICFTU Online..., 113/010620/ND, 20 June 2001

Brussels, June 20 2001 (ICFTU OnLine): The recent arrest of a Central African trade union leader reveals once again the lack of respect for human and trade union rights in this country, says the international trade union movement.

It was on Sunday that the General Secretary of the Workers' Trade Union Centre of Central Africa (USTC), Théophile Sonny Colé, was arrested at Bangui airport. He was released on Monday afternoon. Mr. Colé was taken for questioning by the police as he was returning from a trip abroad. His passport was confiscated and he was held in custody at the premises of the Research and Documentation Inquiry Section (SERD).

The ICFTU-AFRO immediately alerted the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and wrote to the President of the Central African Republic to condemn the arrest and provide the Central African authorities with information concerning Mr. Colé's trip abroad. As General Secretary of the USTC, he had taken part in the ICFTU-AFRO Congress in Nairobi from May 23 to 26. He left there, heading for Abidjan on May 27. Owing to military operations in Bangui however, the flight taking him back to the Central African Republic's capital was diverted to N'Djamena, from where he was not able to return to Bangui until June 17.

Back in January 1999, he was arrested and severely beaten by the presidential Security Unit. In September of the same year, he was prevented from taking part in an OATUU Congress in Johannesburg, in South Africa. In October, he was again prevented from leaving the country when he arrived at the airport to take part in the AFRO Executive Board meeting.

The USTC, the country's largest national trade union centre, is one of five national centres who have been asking the Central African government for months to pay the several months worth of salary arrears owed to civil servants.