Côte d’Ivoire: Five years on, awaiting justice
March 22, Abidjan: Côte d’Ivoire has not yet delivered justice for victims of grave crimes by both sides in the country’s 2010-2011 post-election crisis, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. President Alassane Ouattara and his new justice minister, Sansan Kambile, should strengthen the country’s justice system so it can deliver long overdue justice.
The 56-page report, “Justice Reestablishes Balance: Delivering Credible Accountability for Serious Abuses in Côte d’Ivoire,” outlines critical areas requiring additional government support so that Ivorian courts can provide credible justice. It is based on more than 70 interviews with government officials, members of the judiciary, representatives of nongovernmental groups, international criminal justice experts, UN officials, diplomats, and donor officials.
Victims of heinous crimes committed during the post-election crisis have suffered in silence for five long years,” said Param-Preet Singh, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Trials of key perpetrators from both sides would send a clear message that those responsible for grave human rights abuses cannot escape the reach of justice.”
In December 2010, the failure of the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, to cede power to Ouattara, the internationally-recognized winner of the presidential election, was followed by a five-month conflict during which forces loyal to both sides committed devastating abuses. They summarily executed civilians, brutally gang-raped women, and burned villages to the ground. By the end of the conflict, at least 3,000 civilians had been killed and more than 150 women raped during violence waged along political, ethnic, and religious lines.
In June 2011, President Ouattara created a task force of judges and prosecutors – the Special Investigative and Examination Cell – to spearhead efforts to pursue those responsible for the post-election crimes. The step offered hope that the government was finally willing to address Côte d’Ivoire’s deeply entrenched culture of impunity.
The Oslo Times