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UN rights expert urges justice in Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast could face ongoing violence and be deprived of justice [press release] if human rights offenders are not prosecuted, a senior UN rights official warned Monday. While visiting the city of Abidjan, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic [official profile] met with area officials to discuss the delayed investigatory process that has followed in the wake of a 2011 attack on the city of Nahibly. Local officials cite the country's delicate security situation and fear of reprisals as the reasons for the extended investigations of offenses including unresolved land disputes and illicit arm circulation by Dozos, a paramilitary group of hunters. This trip marks the first visit by the UN to the Ivory Coast since April 2011 [WP article] during the tense atmosphere following violence spurred by political elections.

The Ivory Coast has already begun the process of prosecuting human rights offenders for the crimes that occurred following the country's 2010 elections. In November the International Criminal Court unsealed an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo [JURIST report], the wife of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo. Also in November, Laurent Gbagbo was found fit to stand trial [JURIST report] before the ICC. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has also released a report that said the Ivory Coast's military committed widespread human rights abuses in August and September. In 2011 the Ivory Coast's government launched a truth and reconciliation commission [JURIST report] to resolve conflicts stemming from violence that occurred during the country's tense post-election atmosphere.

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