International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] officially requested permission from ICC judges Thursday to begin investigation into the Ivory Coast after determining that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in post-election violence [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] since last November. Moreno-Ocampo said that thousands have been killed [ICC press release] and hundreds detained and raped in the months-long struggle between ousted leader Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile] and rival President Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile] after Gbagbo refused to give up power. If Moreno-Ocampo is allowed to investigate, this would be his seventh inquiry into African conflicts and the first investigation into a state not party to the Rome Statute [official website], which gives the ICC jurisdiction upon referral by the Security Council [official profile]. The Ivory Coast, however, after a lettered appeal [JURIST report] by Ouattara to the ICC to open an investigation, has given the ICC jurisdiction. Moreno-Ocampo will send a security assessment team to the Ivory Coast on Monday and has not yet determined who is at fault for the violence.
The Ivory Coast announced earlier this month it would establish its own commission [JURIST report] to investigate alleged crimes committed as a result of the disputed presidential elections. This investigation may take up to two years [Reuters report]. Also, an official for the UN's International Commission of Inquiry called for an investigation [JURIST report] into Ouattara and his forces' continuing attacks against supporters of Gbagbo earlier this month. In April, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged Ouattara to conduct an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged atrocities carried out by his forces in its attempts to secure the presidency. According to the report, the pro-Ouattara forces, known as the Republican Forces of the Ivory Coast, killed more than 100 civilians, raped at least 20 supporters of Gbagbo and burned at least 10 villages in March. Also in April, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] reported the deaths of at least 800 civilians [JURIST report] in the Ivory Coast town of Duekoue as a result of intercommunal violence.