137/94-139/94-154/96-161/97 International PEN, Constitutional Rights Project, Civil Liberties Organisation and Interights (on behalf of Ken Saro-Wiwa Jnr.) / Nigeria The Facts as submitted by the authors 1. These communications were submitted to the African Commission by International Pen, the Constitutional Rights Project, INTERIGHTS [and Civil Liberties Organisation] respectively. They were joined because they all concern the detention and trial of Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa, a writer and Ogoni activist, president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People. The communications 139/94 and 154/96 also complain of similar human rights violations suffered by Mr Saro-Wiwa's co-defendants, also Ogoni leaders. 2. The communications 137/94 and 139/94 were submitted in 1994 before any trial began. After the murder of four Ogoni leaders on 21st May 1994, following riot during a public meeting organised by Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni Peoples (MOSOP) representing the rights of those who lived in oil producing areas of Ogoni land, Saro-Wiwa and many hundreds of others were arrested, Saro-Wiwa himself on 22nd May 1994 and the vice-president of MOSOP, Ledum Mitee, shortly thereafter. Both communications allege that Mr Saro-Wiwa was severely beaten during the first days of his detention and was held for several days in leg irons and handcuffs. He was also denied access to his lawyer and the medicine he needed to control his blood pressure, at times prevented from seeing his family, and held in very poor conditions. 3. In its communication, submitted on 9th September 1994, the Constitutional Rights Project included a list of 16 other Ogonis who had been held without charge or bail for what was at that time over three months. Both communications alleged that Mr Saro-Wiwa had been detained because of his political work in relation to MOSOP. He had been detained five times for brief periods since the beginning of 1993, and released each time without charge, except on one occasion in mid-1993 where he was held for several weeks and charged with unlawful assembly. 4. The State Military Administrator declared that Mr Saro-Wiwa and his co-defendants had incited members of MOSOP to murder four rival Ogoni leaders, but no charges were brought until 28th January 1995. In the months between arrest and the beginning of the trial, the defendants were not allowed to meet with their lawyers, and no information on the charges was provided to the defence. 5. In February 1995 the trial of the defendants began before a tribunal established under the Civil Disturbances Act. The three members of this tribunal were appointed directly by General Abacha in November 1994, although counsel for the Rivers State Administrator argued in August that the cases were within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Rivers State High Court, since Rivers State is where the offences occurred. 6. In June 1995 the Constitutional Rights Project submitted a supplement to its communication, alleging irregularities in the conduct of the trial itself: harassment of defence counsel, a military officer's presence at what should have been confidential meetings between defendants and their counsel, bribery of witnesses, and evidence of bias on the part of the tribunal members themselves. In October 1995 PEN also copied to the Commission a letter it sent to General Abacha protesting the lack of concrete evidence and the unfair conduct of the trial. 7. On 30th and 31st October 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of the co-defendants (Saturday Dobee, Felix Nuate, Nordu Eawo, Paul Levura, Daniel Gbokoo, Barinem Kiobel, John Kpunien and Baribor Bera) were sentenced to death, while six others including Mr Mitee were acquitted. The CRP submitted an emergency supplement to its communication on 2nd November 1995, asking the Commission to adopt provisional measures to prevent the executions. 8. The Secretariat of the Commission faxed a Note Verbale invoking interim measures under revised Rule 111 of the Commission's Rules of Procedure to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, the Secretary General of the OAU, the Special Advisor (Legal) to the Head of State, the Ministry of Justice of Nigeria, and the Nigerian High Commission in The Gambia. The Note Verbale pointed out that as the case of Mr Saro-Wiwa and the others was already before the Commission, and the government of Nigeria had invited the Commission to undertake a mission to that country, during which mission the communications would be 1

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