ICC: Key Côte d’Ivoire Figure in The Hague
Initial appearance of Charles Blé Goudé, Former President’s Ally
(Brussels, March 26, 2014) – Charles Blé Goudé, a close ally of former President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d’Ivoire, will make his first appearance before a single judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 27, 2014. Ivorian authorities surrendered Blé Goudé to the ICC on March 22 on the basis of an ICC arrest warrant issued in December 2011. He joins Gbagbo, who has been in ICC custody in The Hague since late 2011, as judges decide whether there is enough evidence in his case to move to trial.
Gbagbo appointed Blé Goudé to youth minister in December 2010, formalizing a longstanding relationship between Blé Goudé’s Young Patriots militia and Gbagbo’s security forces. The ICC alleges that, as part of Gbagbo’s “inner circle” between December 2010 and April 2011, Blé Goudé played a role in attacks against civilians considered to be supporters of President Alassane Ouattara. The court has charged Blé Goudé with four counts of crimes against humanity.
“Blé Goudé in the dock marks an important step forward for his alleged victims, who may finally learn the truth of his role in their suffering,” said Param-Preet Singh, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Providing a fair trial for those accused of horrible crimes is exactly what the ICC was created to do.”
Internationally recognized results proclaimed Ouattara the winner of the November 2010 election, but Gbagbo, his opponent, refused to step down as president. That caused a five-month crisis during which at least 3,000 people were killed and 150 women were raped, with attacks often carried out along political, ethnic, and religious lines. Gbagbo was arrested by pro-Ouattara forces in April 2011 and remained in Ivorian custody until his surrender to the ICC.
The ICC has brought charges against Gbagbo, his wife, Simone, and Blé Goudé in relation to crimes committed in Côte d’Ivoire. However, no charges have been brought against anyone from the forces that fought for President Ouattara, despite findings by an international and an Ivorian commission of inquiry that both sides committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. Ivorian authorities have similarly not yet prosecuted any pro-Ouattara forces implicated in crimes related to the crisis.
“The ICC’s work in Côte d’Ivoire is far from finished as long as one side of the conflict remains beyond the reach of the law,” Singh said. “Victims from both sides deserve to see those responsible for the crimes against them brought to justice.”
Blé Goudé fled from Côte d’Ivoire to Ghana in April 2011. In January 2013, Ghanaian authorities transferred Blé Goudé back to Côte d’Ivoire, where he remained in custody until his surrender to the ICC. Simone Gbagbo remains in Ivorian custody on genocide charges, among other crimes. In October 2013, the Ivorian government formally challenged the admissibility of her case before the ICC, contending they have the intention and the capability to try her in Côte d’Ivoire.