Human Rights Council
Agenda item 10
Technical assistance and capacity-building
The present report is the outcome of the third visit of the Independent Expert to Côte d’Ivoire, from 24 September to 12 October 2012, and is intended to reflect the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire from 15 July to 15 December 2012.
In a subregional context that is weakened by the situation in northern Mali and the Sahel and faced with a tense political climate and an unstable security situation, Côte d’Ivoire is at a decisive political turning point, despite the remarkable economic and social progress that has been achieved.
The attacks by assailants, which chiefly took place in August and September 2012 and were attributed to armed individuals identified by the Government as pro-Gbagbo militants, appeared to be designed to plunge the country back into the cycle of aggression and repression that has prevailed in Côte d’Ivoire for more than 10 years. The response of the State security system to this wave of attacks has at times been disproportionate, leading to some recognized human rights violations.
It is against this background that the Independent Expert gathered information on the increasingly precarious human rights situation, which would appear likely to undermine democratic, economic and social gains. With regard to the violations committed by assailants in the course of attempts to destabilize the country, some 60 people were killed, including Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) troops and civilians, women and children. In certain areas in the west of the country, populations were displaced by the attacks, fearing for their lives, and hundreds of people were forced to leave their villages to take refuge in neighbouring areas.
The FRCI reacted vigorously to attacks by the assailants by strengthening its presence in Abidjan and other areas, particularly in sensitive areas such as the west of the country and the borders with Liberia and Ghana. FRCI troops set up roadblocks and conducted searches and raids in villages. Against this background, violations of the right to life, arbitrary arrest and detention, acts of torture, violations of the right to property, extortion and racketeering were reported throughout the country, particularly in the west.
The Independent Expert visited the western region of Côte d’Ivoire, which has traditionally been the stage for strong tensions between indigenous and non-indigenous communities. The attack on Nahibly camp for displaced persons in Duékoué, where more than 5,000 people were registered, was one of the most violent episodes of these intercommunity clashes. The attack caused the death of more than 8 people and injured 60, including 1 woman. As the Independent Expert indicated in his most recent report, intercommunity tensions persist in the west of the country and require swift steps by the Government to facilitate peaceful coexistence among communities and prevent intercommunity violence, which often results in serious human rights violations. Nevertheless, the Independent Expert observed, on the ground, that there were internally generated initiatives to settle local conflicts and collectively reconstruct the fabric of intercommunity life.
Against this background, the Independent Expert reaffirms the urgent need to expedite the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and of security sector reform. In spite of the Government’s efforts, the delay in this area is contributing to the deterioration of the security situation in the country and giving rise to human rights violations. These reforms will require significant amounts of funding to be deployed that are well beyond the current capacity of Côte d’Ivoire to absorb future disarmed and demobilized ex-combatants.
The fight against impunity is under way although, to date, it remains a one-way process that is neither fair nor swift and is, essentially, directed at the supporters of former President Gbagbo. Many political and military figures close to the former president who were involved in human rights violations and whose names have appeared in United Nations reports on several occasions during the past 10 years have now been charged and detained.
The Independent Expert reaffirms that in order for the judicial process to be useful to Ivorian society as a whole, to make a real contribution to national reconciliation and to drive forward a new dynamic that is more respectful of human life and dignity, the authors of human rights violations must be prosecuted regardless of their political, tribal, regional or religious affiliation.