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Ivory Coast frees political prisoners pending charges

The Ivory Coast Head of State granted bail [press release, in French] on Monday to 14 allies of former president Laurent Ggabo [personal website] in a publicized effort to reach peace. The Ggabo supporters were jailed in 2010 [JURIST news archive] for inciting violence after their party, the Popular Front (FPI), disputed the election results. The opposition party was also accused of participating in the violence, but none of its members was imprisoned under the winner of that election, current President Alassane Ouattara. Government spokesperson Bruno Kone said, "The Board took note of this decision and hopes that it will contribute to the socio-political climate of appeasement and it will also help to accelerate the process of reconciling Ivorians." The group of 14 were granted provisional release within hours of the statement and will be required to attend future judicial proceedings, per sections 140 and 201 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Ivory Coast.

The Ivory Coast [BBC backgrounder] has been plagued by political upheaval following the disputed 2010 election. Former president Ggabo has been charged by the International Criminal Court [JURIST report] with crimes related to inciting the violence. A 2012 report from the National Commission of Inquiry [official summary, PDF] found both pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces responsible for serious international crimes. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged Ouattara to fulfill his commitment to justice for the victims of those events. While the Ivorian government has increased the national budget amount allocated to the justice sector from 2 to 3 percent, the report asks the government to develop a more comprehensive prosecutorial strategy, establish a witness protection program and provide security for judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers.

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