Côte d'Ivoire

Advance UN team tests conditions for panel of inquiry in Côte d'Ivoire

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An advance team of United Nations human rights and political affairs officials arrived in Abidjan today to assess conditions on the ground for setting up a possible board of inquiry to investigate violations of human rights and humanitarian rights that have occurred during the civil turmoil in Côte d'Ivoire.
The team's arrival in Abidjan follows the request of Ivoirian President Laurent Gbagbo to establish an International Commission of Inquiry. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday sent a letter to President Gbagbo endorsing the proposal, saying that the establishment of such a commission "is in the spirit of the Linas-Marcoussis agreement," the French-brokered peace accord signed and adopted in Paris last month establishing a two-year power-sharing arrangement between the Ivoirian Government, rebels and political opposition.

Mr. Annan's letter also said the commission should determine the nature and identify those responsible for human rights and humanitarian rights violations committed in Côte d'Ivoire since 19 September 2002. The panel will have to recommend measures that will put an end to impunity and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice and that the victims and their families are compensated.

The team advance team - comprising experts from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Department of Political Affairs, as well as one forensics expert - will be in Côte d'Ivoire until 11 March and would then submit a report to the Secretary-General.