Human Rights Watch continued to work closely with two casework groups composed of members of Congress-the Congressional Friends of Human Rights Monitors and the Congressional Committee to Support Writers and Journalists. Both groups are bipartisan and bicameral. Human Rights Watch initiated the formation of these groups to enable concerned members of Congress to write letters and urgentcables to governments that violate the basic rights of human rights monitors, writers and journalists. Human Rights Watch supplies the groups with information about appropriate cases of concern; the groups, in turn, determine which cases they would like to pursue.
· The committee wrote to the Colombian government several times on behalf of members of the Regional Human Rights Committee (credhos), who were repeatedly targeted for violent attacks. In January, the committee wrote an urgent cable to President Cesar Gaviria to express its deep concern over the murder of Blanca Cecilia Valero de Duran, the secretary for credhos, who was shot dead in front of the credhos office in Barrancabermeja. When credhos member Julio Cesar Berrio Villegas was shot and killed, the committee again wrote to President Gaviria to express concern and to call for an investigation into the assassination. And in an August 7 letter to the Colombian ambassador to the U.S., the committee expressed its concern over threats and attacks directed against credhos members, including a June ambush in which at least six armed men fired machine guns into vehicles carrying credhos investigators.
· In April, the committee sent an urgent cable to Syrian President Hafez Al-Asad protesting the harsh sentencing of 13 human rights monitors, to terms ranging from three to ten years of hard labor. The committee called upon President Asad to annul the State Security Court's decisions or, at least, to order a retrial before a regularly constituted civilian court. Ten of the human rights activists remain imprisoned.
· In an August letter to the Nigerian ambassador to the U.S., the committee protested charges brought against several Nigerian human rights activists. After three of the human rights monitors were held in incommunicado detention in May, human rights lawyer Chief Gani Fawehinmi filed legal actions on their behalf. Chief Gani Fawehinmi was then detained. After several weeks in custody, all four were charged with conspiracy and treasonable felony. The committee called on the Nigerian government to drop all chargesagainst these human rights activists. Charges are still pending and trial is scheduled for March 1993.
· The committee wrote a letter in August to the Sri Lankan government after two members of the Lawyers for Human Rights and Development were harassed and threatened by armed men. The committee urged the government to provide adequate protection for the two human rights activists and to investigate the acts of intimidation.
· As in past years, the committee continued to watch closely the attacks against members of human rights organizations in Guatemala, particularly members of the Consejo de Comunidades Etnicas Runujel Junam (cerj). Since its creation in 1988, 19 cerj members have been killed or disappeared. In May, the committee sent an urgent cable to President Jorge Serrano protesting death threats and a grenade attack against cerj leader Amílcar Mendez and his family and asking the government to investigate these incidents. In August, the committee wrote to the Guatemalan government to express its concern over death threats received by the human rights group Casa Alianza. The letter also expressed concern over death threats and attacks against other Guatemalan human rights activists and called on the Guatemalan government to investigate those attacks thoroughly.
Other cases raised by the group include: the murder of Indian human rights activist Narra Prabhakar Reddy; death threats against several Brazilian human rights activists; the detention and alleged torture of Turkish human rights leader Sekvan Aytug; and the sentencing of Cuban human rights activist Yndamiro Restano Diaz.
· After the June murder of Egyptian writer Faraj Fouda, the committee wrote to the Egyptian government to express its deep concern over the attack. Fouda was attacked because of his writings which, at times, criticized Islamic fundamentalism. The committee urged the government to continue its investigation into the assassination and to take every step possible to protect other writers and journalists in Egypt who had been threatened.
· In July, the committee wrote to officials in Beijing to protest four-year prison sentences imposed on two Chinese journalists and to denounce a series of attacks and incidents of harassment against foreign journalists and writers in China. The two Chinese journalists, Qi Lin and Wu Xuecan, were reportedly sentenced as a result of their reporting. (Qi Lin was later released on "medical parole.") In addition, several foreign journalists were beaten and harassed while attempting to carry out their journalistic duties inBeijing. The committee also asked the Chinese government to cease its attacks and acts of intimidation against foreign journalists in China.
· The committee wrote to leaders of the Haitian regime to express its concern over the detention and torture of journalist Jean Mario Paul, the disappearance of journalist Félix Lamy, and death threats against journalist Guy Delva. Jean Mario Paul, a reporter for Radio Antilles, was detained for more than five months, during which he was tortured by soldiers and prison guards. Félix Lamy of Radio Galaxie was apprehended by uniformed policemen and plainclothes officers in December 1991 and never seen again. And Guy Delva, who works for the Voice of America, reportedly received telephoned death threats after he attempted to report on censorship following the September 1991 military coup. The committee called on the Haitian regime to investigate Jean Mario Paul's allegations of torture and to prosecute those responsible. The committee also asked that the regime make every effort to locate Félix Lamy and to investigate the threats against Guy Delva.
· In a July letter, the committee wrote to the Kenyan government to express its concern about sedition charges brought against five journalists associated with the news magazine Society, as well as a June arson attack on the magazine's offices. Also noting raids and confiscations of the magazine by Kenyan authorities, the committee expressed concern that these charges and incidents of harassment may be a result of the magazines critical reporting about the Kenyan government.
· In April, the committee wrote to then New York Police Commissioner Lee P. Brown and to U.S. Attorney General William Barr to express deep concern over the murder of Manuel de Dios Unanue, the former editor in chief of the New York-based El Diario-La Prensa. De Dios was reportedly shot execution-style at a restaurant in Queens, New York. His colleagues believe that he was targeted because of his reporting on controversial issues such as drug trafficking, U.S. relations with Cuba, and political scandals in Puerto Rico. The committee called on Commissioner Brown and Attorney General Barr to investigate the assassination thoroughly.
Other cases raised by the committee in 1992 included: the charges brought against three newspaper editors in Rwanda; the detention of journalist Nayef Sweitat by Israeli authorities; the apparent targeting of journalists during fighting in former Yugoslavia; the beatings of four Pakistani journalists reporting on elections in Sindh province; the post-coup detention of Peruvian journalist Gustavo Gorriti; the beatings of dozens of foreign and Thai journalists during demonstrations in Bangkok; and several violent attacks against Venezuelan journalists attempting to report on demonstrations in Caracas.