News / Africa

Ivory Coast to Exhume Bodies From Post-Election Conflict

Adama Fofana,  who says two of his brothers were killed in post-election violence and their bodies dumped in a mass grave, watches the televised trial of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, Feb. 19, 2013.
Adama Fofana, who says two of his brothers were killed in post-election violence and their bodies dumped in a mass grave, watches the televised trial of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, Feb. 19, 2013.
— Ivory Coast officials say exhumations of mass graves dating back to the country’s 2010-11 post-election violence will begin next week.  Both the government and rights workers say this process could produce a fuller picture of what went on during the six-month conflict and help in the fight against impunity.  
 
The Justice Ministry announced this week that exhumations would begin on April 4 in the Abidjan district of Yopougon, which was a flashpoint during the post-election violence.
 
Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo attends a confirmation of charges hearing in his pre-trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, February 19, 2013.Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo attends a confirmation of charges hearing in his pre-trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, February 19, 2013.
x
Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo attends a confirmation of charges hearing in his pre-trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, February 19, 2013.
Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo attends a confirmation of charges hearing in his pre-trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, February 19, 2013.
The conflict began after former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office despite losing the November 2010 election to his challenger, current President Alassane Ouattara.
 
Although Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011, rights groups documented reprisal killings in Yopougon allegedly committed by the pro-Ouattara Republican Forces of Ivory Coast, or FRCI, that lasted into the following month.
 
Earlier this month, officials also began investigating more mass graves discovered outside the western town of Duekoue.

Unlike the graves in Yopougon, these graves are believed to have been dug after the post-election conflict - following a July 2012 raid on a camp for displaced persons.
 
Florent Geel, Africa director for the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), praised the beginning of the probes, but urged judicial officials to carry out a thorough investigation.

“It was the search and identification on the ground by the investigative judges of two mass graves identified by our witnesses," said Geel. "It was concretely the beginning of the inquiry by the investigative judge. It’s a first step of the judiciary machine in a way, and a concrete step to go forward and to have a real and clear investigation.”
 
FIDH documented interviews with witnesses who said that FRCI soldiers were involved in the raid on the camp.  Officially, the attack claimed eight lives, though rights groups have said the death toll was likely much higher.
 
One mass grave found in the area was exhumed last October, yielding six bodies.  But Geel said there are about a dozen others that have not been investigated.
 
The army commander in the region was reassigned after the attack on the camp, and officials have not formally responded to the allegations of military involvement.
 
Geel said a credible investigation would help to dispel the perception that Ouattara’s army is above the law.
 
“If justice is done on this case, it will show there is not orientated justice, and that the FRCI is not out of the scope of justice and that the FRCI can be judged in Côte d’Ivoire," he said. "That’s why this case is symbolic, important, and could show the good will of the political authorities in Abidjan.”

Soriba Kone, communications chief for the Justice Ministry, said he did not know how many mass graves officials would need to investigate, nor could he provide a timeline for when the effort might be completed.

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

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