UN investigators to probe recent attack in Ivory Coast

[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] announced [press briefing] Tuesday that it is sending human rights officials to investigate the recent attack on a relocation camp for internally displaced persons in Nahibly, Ivory Coast [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The attack took place last Friday when around 300 individuals attacked the camp resulting in seven people being killed and another 67 individuals injured. During the attack the camp itself was also burned down forcing 5,000 inhabitants to abandon the site. OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said that the country has failed to address the violence plaguing its citizens since the post-electoral crisis in March of last year:

The attack, which was clearly ethnically motivated, underscores the urgent need to combat impunity for past violations in Cote d'Ivoire. At the height of the post-electoral crisis in March last year, two massacres took place in the Duekoue-Guiglo area. One reportedly resulted in the deaths of around 100 members of the Dioula ethnic community and, in another, approximately 244 mostly male members of the Guere ethnic group were found to have been killed during the capture of Duekoue on 28 March 2011 by the Forces Republicaines de Cote d'Ivoire (FRCI). It appears that the attack on the IDP camp in Nahibly was targeted at members of the Guere community, which is being blamed by the Dioula community for an armed robbery earlier in the day on Friday during which five Malinke (a sub-group of the Dioula people) were killed. More than a year after the March 2011 Duekoue ethnic violence, little progress has been made in advancing justice and accountability. While more than 176 members of the pro-Gbabgo camp, aligned with former President Laurent Gbagbo, have been indicted for violations committed during the post-electoral crisis, we understand that no arrests have been made of supporters of current President Alassane Ouattara in relation to these crimes.
The officials are expected to report back to the UN office after completion of their 10-day mission in the Ivory Coast.

The continuing violence in the Ivory Coast has been the subject of criticism by international human rights groups. Earlier this month, the country's justice ministry announced [JURIST report] that two allies of former president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] have been charged with genocide relating to the violence that followed Gbagbo's refusal to step down after his defeat in the November 2010 elections. Gbagbo was captured and forced to surrender [JURIST report] in April of last year after French tanks moved in on his residence while Outtara's forces surrounded it. The confirmation of charges hearing against him was postponed in mid-June by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] amid a request by his lawyers for more time. A week earlier, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that since July 2011 at least 40 people including women and children have been killed during cross-border attacks on Ivory Coast villages by armed militants in Liberia [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. In February, HRW expressed concern [JURIST report] over the flawed investigation into the post-election violence and advocated six-month extension of the probe. Another concern was that all 17 members of the investigating commission were chosen by President Ouattara creating possibility of bias in the investigation. During the same month, ICC's former Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] was granted permission [JURIST report] to expand his investigation of war crimes in the Ivory Coast to incidents dating back to 2002.

 

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