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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid