International Criminal Court [ICC] [official website] Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] arrived in the Ivory Coast [BBC backgrounder] Saturday to investigate allegations of war crimes committed during post-election violence [JURIST news archive] following last November's elections. Thousands were allegedly killed and hundreds detained and raped in the months-long struggle between ousted leader Laurent Gbagbo and rival President Alassane Ouattara [BBC profiles] after Gbagbo refused to give up power. The ICC announced earlier this month that it would initiate a formal investigation [JURIST report], and Ocampo has been asked to report any information collected pertaining to the allegations between the years 2002-2010. Before his trip, Ocampo said [statement]:
I am grateful to President Ouattara for extending the invitation for me to conduct an official visit to Cote d'Ivoire. We will also meet members of the Opposition. We will meet with victims, and listen to their views and concerns. We believe it is critically important to meet with the Truth, Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission, which has a crucial mandate to contribute to the prevention of new crimes, the establishment of individual responsibilities and the reconciliation of all Ivorians.The Ivory Coast probe marks Ocampo's seventh inquiry into African conflicts and the first investigation into a state not party to the Rome Statute [official website] of the ICC.
Ocampo officially requested permission [JURIST report] from ICC judges in June to begin the investigation into the Ivory Coast after determining that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed. The Ivory Coast announced earlier in that month that it would establish its own commission [JURIST report] to investigate alleged crimes committed as a result of the disputed presidential elections. 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 in June. 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 inter-communal violence.