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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs