News / Africa

    Human Rights Watch Accuses Ivory Coast Army of Torture

    A new report by international watchdog group, Human Rights Watch, accuses Ivory Coast’s military of abuses during a security crackdown following a recent wave of attacks. HRW says the military’s tactics have included torture and could slow the country’s recovery from a brutal post-election conflict that ended last year.

    Human Rights Watch says the military, officially known as the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast, has unfairly targeted perceived supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo in response to the attacks.

    In a report released Monday, HRW says hundreds of people have been swept up in mass arrests and held illegally in military camps where they have been subject to beatings, extortion and degrading detention conditions.

    HRW Ivory Coast researcher Matt Wells says soldiers feel free to commit abuses because they are never held accountable. "Despite its promises, the Ouattara government has failed to tackle the culture of impunity among the Republican Forces, particularly at the command level. In response, particularly to these findings of torture, it’s crucial that the government quickly open an investigation, find those responsible and bring them to justice," he said.

    VOA spoke with six people who say they were tortured by the Republican Forces. They asked VOA not to use their names for fear of reprisals.

    A member of Gbagbo’s political party, says soldiers came for him at his office just days after the attacks began. He was taken to a military camp in Abidjan’s Adjame neighborhood and held there for two weeks. He says dozens of prisoners were crammed into a room measuring 4 by 6 meters, meaning they could only crouch or stand. He says soldiers were beating us with everything they had -- some with sticks, some with belts. He says soldiers would ask guards to bring them belts and they would start beating on the pro-Gbagbos because they thought we were part of militias.

    That prisoner says his ordeal ended after he appeared in court and a judge let him go.

    Many have never gotten that chance.

    Human Rights Watch says detainees are often caught up in what it called a “lucrative extortion scheme.” HRW says soldiers do not charge detainees with any crimes or take down their names. Their only way out is for relatives to come and pay hundreds of dollars to secure their release.

    High-level government officials have acknowledged abuses on the part of the military. But while vowing to investigate the perpetrators, the government says it is important to stand by the Republican Forces because of the serious security threats facing the country.

    However, victims told VOA that the actions of the Republican Forces are only deepening divisions and further angering those already hostile to the government.

    Another victim says he was held for three days at a camp in Abidjan’s Marcory neighborhood, says the current environment makes it impossible to talk about reconciliation. He says Gbagbo supporters are open to making peace with those on Ouattara’s side, but that this will be impossible so long as the military’s abuses are allowed to continue.

     

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food tells us about changes in American society

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora