UN rights chief urges independent probe into Ivory Coast violence News
UN rights chief urges independent probe into Ivory Coast violence
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[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] called for an independent investigation into post-election violence in the Ivory Coast [JURIST news archive] on Monday as part of a report [text, PDF] to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website]. The report indicated that the human rights situation was deteriorating rapidly in the wake of the refusal by incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo to leave office after his defeat by challenger Alassane Ouattara [BBC profiles] in November:

With the political stalemate now going into its third month, the human rights situation in Cote d’Ivoire is becoming more precarious. Almost 300 people have been confirmed killed since the beginning of the crisis, and there are continuing reports of abductions, illegal detention and attacks against civilians. More than 35,000 people have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge elsewhere, including in neighbouring countries. There are reports of thousands of youths being forcibly recruited and armed, presumably in preparation for violent conflict. The propagation of hatred and violence through the media remains a serious concern.

The report details information surrounding allegations of attacks on political opponents and unarmed civilians as well as sexual violence. Although the report includes events up until January 31, the OHCHR also presented recent developments, including ongoing attacks on political demonstrators, lack of basic services such as electricity and water, and rampant political propaganda.

In January, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] rejected the proposed recount [JURIST report] of November’s Ivory Coast presidential runoff election results as a “grave injustice and unfortunate precedent.” Also in January, UN officials expressed “grave concerns” [JURIST report] on continued post-election violence in the Ivory Coast, cautioning that genocide could be imminent. In December, UN officials urged all parties to the disputed presidential election in the Ivory Coast to honor the country’s commitment to prevent genocide [JURIST report], crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing under the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document [text, PDF]. Also in December, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) [official website] urged Gbagbo to step down, threatening the use of force [JURIST report] if he attempts to maintain power. Gbagbo has refused to cede power to president-elect Ouattara, who won the November 28 runoff election according to international observers.