COTE D'IVOIRE
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Constitution, Government & Legislation | Courts & Judgments | Human Rights | Legal Profession
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map courtesy CIA World Factbook; click for enlargement Constitution, Government & Legislation

Cote d'Ivoire's constitution (most recently revised in 2000) provides for a strong presidency within the framework of a separation of powers. The executive is personified in the president, elected for a 5-year term. The president is the head of state, commander in chief of the armed forces, may negotiate and ratify certain treaties, and may submit a bill to a national referendum or to the National Assembly. According to the constitution, the President of the National Assembly assumes the presidency for 45-90 days in the event of a vacancy and organizes new elections in which the winner completes the remainder of the deceased president's term. The president selects the Prime Minister, who is the head of government and Minister of Planning and Development. The cabinet is selected by and is responsible to the president.

The unicameral National Assembly is composed of 225 members elected by direct universal suffrage for a 5-year term concurrently with the President. It passes on legislation typically introduced by the President, although it also can introduce legislation.

For administrative purposes, Cote d'Ivoire is divided into 18 regions, 58 departments, each headed by a prefect appointed by the central government. There are 196 communes, each headed by an elected mayor, plus the city of Abidjan with 10 mayors.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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Courts & Judgments

The formal judicial system is headed by a Supreme Court and includes the Court of Appeals and lower courts. The Constitutional Chamber, whose main responsibility is to determine presidential candidate eligibility, is part of the Supreme Court. The Constitution grants the President of the Republic the power to replace the head of the court once a new parliament is in place.

Military courts do not try civilians. Although there are no appellate courts within the military court system, persons convicted by a military tribunal may petition the Supreme Court to set aside the tribunal's verdict and order a retrial.

In rural areas, traditional institutions often administer justice at the village level, handling domestic disputes and minor land questions in accordance with customary law. Dispute resolution is by extended debate, with no known instance of resort to physical punishment. The formal court system increasingly is superseding these traditional mechanisms. A Grand Mediator settles disputes that cannot be resolved by traditional means. The Constitution specifically provided for the office of Grand Mediator, which is designed to bridge traditional and modern methods of dispute resolution. The President names the Grand Mediator, and Mathieu Ekra has been Grand Mediator since his nomination by the Bedie Government.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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Human Rights

The Ivorian Government's human rights record remained poor in 2001, and although there were improvements in a number of areas, serious problems continued in a number of areas. Members of the security forces committed more than 150 extrajudicial killings during the year, which was a significant decrease from in the previous year. Several persons allegedly disappeared after police dispersed a demonstration. Security forces frequently resorted to lethal force to combat widespread violent crime. Security forces regularly beat detainees and prisoners to punish them or to extract confessions. Police routinely harassed and abused noncitizen Africans. Following an alleged coup attempt on January 7-8, security forces and vigilante gangs harassed, beat, and detained foreigners. President Gbagbo blamed foreigners from Burkina Faso, and thousands fled the country. Prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening, in spite of some improvements. The Government generally failed to bring perpetrators of most abuses to justice. The Government continued arbitrary arrests and detention, and prolonged detention remained a problem. Numerous persons, including opposition members, journalists, and military officers in particular, were detained without trial for long periods. The judiciary did not ensure due process and was subject to executive branch influence, particularly in political cases. Security forces infringed on citizens' privacy rights. The Government restricted freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and movement. Police forcibly dispersed numerous demonstrations. Despite some formal restrictions on freedom of association, the Gbagbo Government generally respected this right in practice. The Government at times limited freedom of religion. At least 26 percent of the country's population, including many lifelong residents of the country, remain politically disenfranchised noncitizens. Discrimination and violence against women, abuse of children, and female genital mutilation (FGM) remained serious problems. Muslims and practitioners of traditional indigenous religions continued to be subject to discrimination. Violent ethnic tensions persisted, and societal discrimination based on ethnicity remained a problem. Child labor, forced child labor, and trafficking in persons, including children also persisted.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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Legal Profession
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