Ivory Coast [BBC backgrounder; ICC case materials] Justice Minister Jeannot Ahoussou Kouadio signed an agreement with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Tuesday, allowing an investigation into political violence to proceed and pledging cooperation with the ICC. As the Ivory Coast is not a member state of the ICC because it is not a signatory of the Rome Statute [text, PDF], the ICC can only investigate with the Ivory Coast's express permission. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo officially requested permission from ICC judges last week [JURIST report] to begin investigation into the Ivory Coast after determining that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in post-election violence [JURIST news archive] since last November. This followed a request by President Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile] for the ICC to launch an investigation [JURIST report]. Despite Ouattara requesting the investigation, the ICC will be investigating both sides of the election violence [Bloomberg report], including violence fomented by Ouattara's administration.
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 ousted leader Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile] 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.