OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina-Faso, July 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In its verdict, which was made public on 30 June 2014, the Ouagadougou Regional Court found Professor Charlemagne Marie Ouédraogo guilty of defamation against the Raëlian Church of Burkina Faso.
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As a punishment, the court sentenced him to pay a fixed fine of 100,000 CFA francs in addition to legal costs and the sum of 1,000,000 CFA francs in damages to the Raëlian Church.
To summarise events, just as the festivities were fervently being prepared in celebration of the official scheduled opening on 7 March 2014 of Kamkaso Hospital, the first ever hospital dedicated solely to clitoral restoration and repairing the damage caused by excision, a project implemented by AVFE/CLITORAID (http://www.clitoraid.org) and backed by the Raëlian Church of Burkina Faso, a last-minute decision issued by the Ministry of Health prevented the opening from going ahead, sparking feelings of incomprehension and bitter disappointment among the population, numerous patients, anti-excision associations, thousands of donors who made it possible for the hospital to be built and volunteer doctors from abroad.
“A defamatory letter by Professor Charlemagne Marie Ouédraogo written on 24 February 2014 following the AVFE press release announcing the hospital’s imminent opening, in which he referred to the Kamkaso Hospital project as ‘‘a big campaign of fraud organised by the sect of Rael” provides an obvious explanation of the reasons behind the Ministry of Health’s decision,” explained Ditalamane Hebie, a Raëlian guide and spokesperson for the Raëlian Church in Africa. “In fact, in his letter Professor Charlemagne Marie Ouédraogo pointed out that ‘‘the health ministry and the governor are beseeched to stop this poisonous campaign”. This resulted firstly in the Ministry of Health refusing to authorise the opening of the hospital and secondly in the Burkina National College of Physicians withdrawing the authorisations it had duly granted beforehand for volunteer doctors from the United States to perform surgeries in Burkina Faso.”
Faced with this unbelievable turn of events, the Raëlian Church and the association AVFE/CLITORAID initiated legal proceedings through the courts, including a defamation case brought against Professor of Medicine Charlemagne Marie Ouédraogo.
“The Raëlians of Burkina Faso welcomed the Ouagadougou Regional Court’s decision as this marks the first crucial step towards not only rebuilding the reputation of the Raëlian Church among doctors in Burkina Faso who received this letter but also to obtaining authorisation to perform surgeries at Kamkaso Hospital, which represents a huge ray of hope for thousands of women who want to put an end to the daily trauma they have endured as a result of the damage caused by excision,” explained Ditalamane Hebie. “Professor Charlemagne Ouédraogo and all those who supported him should be ashamed of stymieing this humanitarian mission to satisfy their own personal motives to the detriment of the well-being of these women who are suffering. We are confident that the hospital will soon be able to open its doors and fulfil its mission for all the women in the sub-region and neighbouring countries who wish to use it.”
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Raelian Movement.
Clitoraid (http://www.clitoraid.org) is an international non-profit organization offering clitoral repair surgery to FGM victims.