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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid