The fight against impunity at a crossroad

The Ivorian authorities need a policy to fight impunity that is more committed and coherent in order to judge the perpetrators of the crimes committed during the post-electoral crisis, according to FIDH, LIDHO and MIDH (the FIDH member leagues in Ivory Coast). In a report presented in Abidjan, these three organisations, that filed as civil parties alongside 75 victims from all sides in the judicial proceedings opened in Ivory Coast, were critical in their assessment of progress made in the legal actions carried out during close to three years.

“Progress by the Ivorian judiciary up to now has not been sufficient to leave hope that in the near future a major trial will be held on the post-electoral crisis under acceptable conditions”, said Mr. Patrick Baudouin, Honorary President, and head of the Legal Action Group that defends victims at FIDH. “The inquiries and judicial procedures need to be much better balanced to ensure the right to truth, justice and reparation for all the victims” he added.

Despite an openly declared intention, the process for fighting impunity seems to be marked by the lack of prosecution of crime perpetrators who supported Alassane Ouattara during the crisis. This is especially flagrant since the proceedings against the Gbagbo supporters are progressing.

“The judiciary still needs to do a considerable amount of work, and the government needs to renew the mandate of the Special Investigative Unit by reassigning staff and resources to it,” said Mr. Drissa Traoré, FIDH Vice President, and then added, “When the government’s decided not to send some high-level persons allegedly responsible for the crisis to the ICC it committed itself to earmarking the resources required for the country to have a credible, fair legal system”.

Furthermore, with the political situation being more pacific, although still polarised, the nature of national reconciliation has become almost completely political. The present-day political dialogue is a positive element in preventing the outbreak of more political violence in Ivory Coast, but it cannot replace a genuine national reconciliation process based on the testimony of the victims and an impartial judiciary, which are lacking at present.

“The national reconciliation process seems to have forgotten the victims. Their participation, however is needed to allow progress to be made in rendering justice and to write our common history, which form the basis of real national reconciliation,” said Pierre Adjoumani Kouame, LIDHO interim president.

“The Ivorian authorities have a unique opportunity to elucidate the crimes of the past and to fulfill the victims’ expectations for justice, a pre-condition to the establishment of the rule of law and a political climate of peace”, said Yacouba Doumbia, MIDH President and lawyers for the victims.