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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    Diplomats Hope to Revive Cradle of Civilization After Defeat of IS

    Diplomats from around globe gather at US State Department, discuss how to rebuild minority communities shattered by Islamic State group

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    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 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 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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora