(1) Côte d’Ivoire
We note President Ouattara’s pledge last night that Laurent Gbagbo would be treated fairly and in accordance with the law. We stress the essential need for open and transparent investigations leading to a fair trial and accountability for all the perpetrators of violence on both sides of the political divide. Accountability and the rule of law are important preconditions for national reconciliation. We understand that a number of former FDS soldiers loyal to Gbagbo were also arrested yesterday and it is unclear where they were taken and how they are being treated. Our human rights staff in Abidjan are looking into this and monitoring it. International fair trial standards include the need to press charges as soon as possible after arrest.
Meanwhile the security situation remains tense in Abidjan. There was still looting and pillaging of homes yesterday evening and we welcome the President’s efforts to secure Abidjan. We echo the Secretary-General's calls for all parties to the conflict to avoid reprisals.
Our investigation teams in the west of the country have been reinforced and are continuing to investigate the violence and killings in that area. Our team has so far established that 536 people were killed in the West of the country, in Duékoué, Guiglo, Blolequin and Bangolo, in the past few weeks. But the number could very well be much higher than this.
We are deeply concerned about reports of the intensification of killings of protestors by security forces in Syria, as well as mass arrests of human rights defenders and the harassment of journalists. A number of journalists, international and Syrian, as well as Syrian bloggers have reportedly been arrested and TV signals suspended of at least one private TV station. Syrian authorities must immediately release journalists detained for doing their jobs and to respect the right to freedom of expression.
The High Commissioner has emphasized to the Syrian authorities that the use of force against peaceful protestors has not quelled discontent anywhere in the region. We urge the authorities to take immediate action to stop the excessive use of force, particularly the use of live ammunition against peaceful protestors.
Regarding the reported violations in the Ashraf Camp by Iraqi forces last Friday (April 8) morning, UNAMI (the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq) has still not been able to enter the camp in order to independently verify the allegations of human rights violations. While the situation appears to have calmed down, it remains urgent that independent observers are allowed immediate access to the camp in order to establish the truth of the matter.
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