News / Africa

    Report: Uneven Justice Could Increase Ivory Coast Conflicts

    Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara attends the sixth joint AU/ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Economic Development in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 25, 2013.
    Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara attends the sixth joint AU/ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Economic Development in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 25, 2013.
    A new report from the international rights group Human Rights Watch says Ivory Coast is risking a return to violence because of its failure to provide balanced justice for the country’s 2010-11 post-election conflict. The report, released nearly two years after the conflict ended, says that despite the government’s claims, very little progress has been made in bringing some of the most notorious alleged perpetrators to justice.

    More than 3,000 people lost their lives in the five months after former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office. His defeat in the November 2010 presidential runoff vote sparked a power struggle with current President Alassane Ouattara.

    But Human Rights Watch and other groups say the conflict was partly triggered by impunity for grave crimes committed during a 10-year political crisis that preceded the vote.

    Inaction continues

    Philippe Bolopion, United Nations director for Human Rights Watch, said Ouattara seemed determined not to repeat old mistakes when he finally took power in May 2011.

    "Right after President Ouattara took power, he said that there would be no impunity this time around, that people would be prosecuted for serious crimes regardless of their rank, regardless of their political affiliation. These were very courageous promises to make, but now President Ouattara needs to deliver on them because some of these promises are starting to ring hollow," said Bolopion.

    Last October, a military tribunal convicted five Gbagbo loyalists for kidnapping and murdering a military colonel during the violence. But that is the only trial related to the conflict that has taken place, so far.

    Meanwhile, more than 100 other Gbagbo supporters have been charged in relation to the fighting. Despite widespread evidence that crimes were committed on both sides, no Ouattara supporters have been charged, sparking allegations of unequal justice.

    Unequal action charged

    Justice ministry officials could not be reached for comment, but government officials, including Ouattara, have said more time is needed to allow the full range of investigations to take place.  

    Bolopion said it would be difficult to restore the public’s faith in the judiciary without thorough and credible investigations into crimes alleged to have been committed by Ouattara’s military backers.

    "As far as we know, so far there have been about 150 people investigated for crimes committed by pro-Gbagbo forces and zero by pro-Ouattara forces. And these numbers speak volumes. You cannot tweak them. You cannot spin them," said Bolopion.

    The new report identifies several steps Human Rights Watch says will jump-start the justice process. Although the government has created a Special Investigative Cell specifically responsible for investigating crimes committed during the conflict, the report says it remains understaffed and under-resourced.

    Taking positive steps

    Human Rights Watch recommends allocating more resources to the cell and then having it conduct a mapping exercise that will help judicial officials devise a strategy for pursuing cases going forward.  

    The report also calls on the government to ensure judicial officials and witnesses have adequate protection so that security threats do not discourage them from bringing complaints against Ouattara loyalists.

    In the absence of a credible justice process, Bolopion said there is a high risk of more fighting in the future.

    "Our fear is that if impunity continues, the cycle of violence in Ivory Coast will not really be broken. And sadly, we will not be surprised if in a few years from now we see another cycle of violence with the same perpetrators in position to commit the same types of crimes," said Bolopion.

    Human Rights Watch also faults the International Criminal Court for pursuing cases against Gbagbo loyalists before looking at crimes committed by Ouattara supporters. So far, the Hague-based court has issued warrants for former president Gbagbo and his wife, Simone.

    You May Like

    Can EU Survive a Brexit?

    Across Europe politicians are asking if the British vote to leave the European Union will set in motion dynamics that will see other member states leave too

    Video Entrepreneurs Tackle Sexual Harassment, Rural Health Care at Global Summit

    VOA talks to enterprising business people from India, Nigeria, Myanmar about their programs to help their respective countries overcome obstacles

    Key African Anti-Venom About to Permanently Run Out

    The tale of Fav-Afrique’s demise is a complicated one that reflects a deeper crisis brewing in global public health

    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.
    Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Marketsi
    X
    June 24, 2016 10:43 AM
    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Markets

    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.
    Video

    Video During Ramadan, Faith and Football Converge in Lebanon’s Megadome

    In Beirut, a group of young entrepreneurs has combined its Muslim faith and love of football to create the city's newest landmark: a large, Ramadan-ready dome primed for one of the biggest football (soccer) tournaments in the world. But as the faithful embrace the communal spirit of Islam’s holy month, it is not just those breaking their fasts that are welcome.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora