[JURIST] The International Criminal Court [ICC] [official website] on Monday granted the request [decision, PDF] of Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] to open an investigation into war crimes committed on the Ivory Coast during post-election violence [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] since last November. The ICC announced [press release], “[a]fter a preliminary examination, the ICC Prosecutor concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed in Cote d’Ivoire since 28 November 2010.” Ocampo has been asked to report any information collected pertaining to the allegations between the years 2002-2010. He alleges that thousands have been killed [ICC press release] and hundreds detained and raped in the months-long struggle between ousted leader Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile] and rival President Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile] after Gbagbo refused to give up power. This will be Ocampo’s seventh inquiry into African conflicts and the first investigation into a state not party to the Rome Statute [official website].
Ocampo officially requested permission [JURIST report] from ICC judges in June to begin the investigation into the Ivory Coast after determining that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed. The Ivory Coast announced earlier in that month that it would establish its own commission [JURIST report] to investigate alleged crimes committed as a result of the disputed presidential elections. This investigation may take up to two years [Reuters report]. Also, an official for the UN’s International Commission of Inquiry called for an investigation [JURIST report] into Ouattara and his forces’ continuing attacks against supporters of Gbagbo. In April, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged Ouattara to conduct an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged atrocities carried out by his forces in its attempts to secure the presidency. According to the report, the pro-Ouattara forces, known as the Republican Forces of the Ivory Coast, killed more than 100 civilians, raped at least 20 supporters of Gbagbo and burned at least 10 villages in March. Also in April, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] reported the deaths of at least 800 civilians [JURIST report] in the Ivory Coast town of Duekoue as a result of intercommunal violence.