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UN Human Rights Commission Ends Visit to Ivory Coast - 2004-09-15


A team of U.N. investigators is concluding a two-month tour of Ivory Coast to investigate human rights violations since the attempted coup two years ago that split the country in two. The team's report is to be presented to the Security Council next month.

The five-person commission arrived in the commercial capital, Abidjan, two months ago and has been touring the country as well as visiting neighboring countries to investigate human rights abuses.

They have been supported by forensic experts to examine evidence and have conducted personal interviews with both civilians and officials. The world's number-one cocoa producing country plunged into civil war after a failed coup attempt two years ago.

A spokesman for the U.N. human rights commission, Gianni Maggazeni, says it has been an enormous undertaking during the past two months.

"They have been working hard to collect information, evidence and to establish the facts and try, to the extent possible, to identify the perpetrators of major human rights violations in line with their mandate," Mr. Maggazeni says. "So, now is the end of the second month and now they will spend time to finalize the report."

During the past two years there have been reports of mass graves throughout the country and a government crackdown on a peace demonstration five months ago left more than 100 civilians dead.

Although no specific information was made available concerning what the commission was investigating, local papers have speculated that some of the highest-ranking officials could be implicated in violations.

But U.N. spokesman Maggazeni says it is unclear at the moment what action will be taken in response to the findings.

"Well I think we have to give a chance to the High Commissioner and the Secretary General to see that report and to consider possible next steps," Mr. Maggazeni says.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged Ivory Coast to fully implement the peace accord signed in Ghana in July in order to bring the west African nation back to peace and prosperity.

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