News / Africa

Human Rights Activists Criticize One-Sided Justice in Ivory Coast

Anne Look

Human rights activists are criticizing Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara's regime for only arresting and charging his enemies following a six-month, post-electoral power struggle that plunged the country back into civil war.  

This week saw dozens of allies to former Ivorian leader, Laurent Gbagbo, face charges in relation to post-electoral violence, including 58 army officers accused Thursday of crimes ranging from murder and rape to buying illegal arms and recruiting mercenaries.

In total, Ivory Coast has charged as many as 94 military and political allies of Mr. Gbagbo, who remains under arrest following his capture by forces loyal to current president, Alassane Ouattara, in April.

Since taking office in May, Mr. Ouattara has repeatedly promised to investigate abuses and bring perpetrators on both sides to justice.  

Rights groups say he must follow up his statements with action.

Vice President of the Ivorian Movement for Human Rights, Doumbia Yacouba, says so far, only Gbagbo allies have been arrested, even though it has been established and recognized by the government that there were violent acts committed by both sides. Yacouba says for justice to be credible, it must be balanced. He says they expect to see arrests made in Mr. Ouattara's camp as well.

Yacouba says the justice system is still in disorder, but once prisons are operational again and judges are trained and back in their offices, there will be no more excuses.

Pressure on the new president to act is expected to increase following Thursday's announcement by the U.N. Mission in Ivory Coast that the country's armed forces have carried out 26 extrajudicial killings in the past month, many of them in the country's still volatile west.

The rights representative for the U.N. mission, Guillaume Ngefa, said his office has documented more than 100 human rights violations between mid-July and mid-August. He said those included 85 illegal arrests.

The Republican Forces of Ivory Coast, as the country's new integrated army is called, incorporates former rebel fighters from the North who were instrumental in bringing Mr. Ouattara to power.

Matt Wells is the Ivory Coast researcher for international watchdog, Human Rights Watch.  "It's less and less possible each day for the government to claim that these are just out of control elements. This is now the official army of Cote d'Ivoire, and it's time for the government both its civilian and military leaders to step up and make sure that there is control," he said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented reprisal killings, war crimes and abuses by forces loyal to Mr. Ouattara both during and after their April offensive.

HRW expressed concern earlier this week when Mr. Ouattara promoted two former rebel commanders who have been accused of grave human rights abuses to new posts within the Republican Forces.

One of them, Martin Kouakou Fofié, has been on the U.N. Security Council sanctions list since 2006 for violations committed during the first Ivorian conflict.

HRW researcher Wells says these commanders need to be brought to justice. "Certainly there's the reality that many of these commanders, of the former Forces Nouvelles that became the Republican Forces, swept Ouattara into power, but at the same time Ouattara owes more than anything to the victims on both sides in order to move the country forward, to remove the country from the nightmare of impunity that has haunted it for the past decade," he said.

Violence began in Ivory Coast following a November presidential poll when Mr. Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Mr. Ouattara. Pro-Gbagbo militia and security forces are accused of turning heavy artillery on civilians and inciting attacks of West African immigrants, among other abuses.

In all, rights groups say the post-electoral crisis killed more than 3,000 civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands.

You May Like

Photogallery Kyiv: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Weeki
X
August 29, 2014 2:18 AM
The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid