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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ivory Coast initiates investigation into post-election violence
Maureen Cosgrove at 1:50 PM ET

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[JURIST] The Ivory Coast on Wednesday announced it would establish a commission to investigate alleged crimes committed as a result of the disputed presidential elections last November. Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile] vowed to probe human rights violations [AFP report] and violence that has riddled the nation since the election, after which Ouattara was eventually declared the winner. Former president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile] had to be forcefully removed from office and is currently under the protection of UN personnel [CNN report]. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] presented her report [press release] on the situation in the Ivory Coast before the Human Rights Council (HRC) [official website] and expressed concern over human rights abuses by government forces, including rape, executions, and torture. Also on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text; press release] that it had documented human rights violations by both Ouattara and Gbagbo, and commended the Ivory Coast Commission of Inquiry, established by the HRC, for its investigation. However, HRW criticized the commission for refusing to disclose a list of perpetrators most responsible for the rights violations. Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at HRW, also urged the Ouattara government to make more progress on its promises:
The Ouattara government needs to move beyond vague promises of accountability. While President Ouattara has notably asked for the International Criminal Court's assistance, national trials will also be needed. The Ivorian government should promptly investigate crimes by both sides and ask for donors' assistance so it can hold fair, credible trials.
HRW insisted that the commission commence judicial proceedings against suspects and release those who have been detained without being charged, as well as continue investigating the international law violations until September.

Earlier this month, an official for the International Commission of Inquiry called for an investigation [JURIST report] into Ouattara and his forces' continuing attacks against supporters of Gbagbo. Last month, Ouattara asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to launch an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged crimes committed as a result of the disputed presidential elections last November. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] then submitted a request to the court [JURIST report] to begin an investigation into the Ivory Coast political conflict, but a formal investigation has yet to begin. In April, HRW urged Ouattara to conduct an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged atrocities carried out by his forces in its attempts to secure the presidency. According to the report, the pro-Ouattara forces, known as the Republican Forces of the Ivory Coast, killed more than 100 civilians, raped at least 20 supporters of Gbagbo and burned at least 10 villages in March. Also last month, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] reported the deaths of at least 800 civilians [JURIST report] in the Ivory Coast town of Duekoue as a result of intercommunal violence.




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