29 December 2011 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire today voiced deep concern about reports of numerous human rights violations by members of the country’s armed forces.
Members of the armed forces, known as FRCI, are accused of carrying out rapes, acts of torture, armed robberies and other abuses in several locations in recent weeks, according to Kenneth Blackman, a spokesperson for the mission (UNOCI).
FRCI elements clashed earlier this week with locals in the southern town of Sikensi, and media reports indicate that four people were killed there, in part as a result of inter-ethnic tensions.
Mr. Blackman told journalists in Abidjan that the mission noted that Ivorian authorities are taking additional steps to improve the security sector and to improve discipline within the FRCI.
A military police unit has also been set up and a fund has been created to buy weapons, establish a reserve corps and renovate barracks and military camps.
He stressed that UNOCI will help authorities contribute to greater social cohesion and national reconciliation in the wake of the protracted crisis that followed the then incumbent Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to step down after he lost a presidential run-off election to Alassane Ouattara late last year.
Mr. Gbagbo was subsequently captured by Ivorian forces and has since been transferred to The Hague to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), while Mr. Ouattara has become President and legislative elections have been held.
UNOCI is assisting in a disarmament drive, with youths encouraged to hand over their weapons voluntarily a centre in the Abidjan neighbourhood of Attécoubé.
Joint patrols involving UNOCI and the FRCI have also been stepped up after the recent clashes in Sikensi and Vavoua, as well as Abidjan, the country’s largest city and commercial capital.