News / Africa

Human Rights Activists Criticize One-Sided Justice in Ivory Coast

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid