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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs