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

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs