Impartial justice poses test for Ouattara – Human Rights Watch

Alassane Ouattara - President of Ivory Coast

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday identified impartial justice as the greatest test the government of President Alassane Ouattara since he took over power in April 2011.

“An imbalance in justice efforts threatens to open new divisions at a moment when President Ouattara’s government has a unique opportunity to move Côte d’Ivoire past the manipulation of political and ethnic blocs that occurred under former President Laurent Gbagbo.

“President Ouattara should therefore match the government’s rhetorical commitment to impartial justice with action against its own troops implicated in crimes during the post-election violence and its aftermath,” HRW stated in a document made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

Human Rights Watch acknowledged that the current government had taken noteworthy steps to prosecute leaders of the former regime, including former President Gbagbo, against whom there was credible evidence of serious crimes.

“But the pursuit of justice is essential to victims on both sides who saw their loved ones killed, or houses burned, not just a tool for the victors,” said Mr Daniel Bekele, HRW Africa regional director was quoted in the report.

“President Ouattara needs to swiftly match his soaring rhetoric on ending impunity with credible prosecutions of those in his camp who committed serious crimes.

“After a decade under former President Gbagbo in which security forces were allegedly above the law, it’s only through impartial justice that the rule of law will return and all Ivorians will begin to heal from the suffering imposed by the conflict,” Mr Bekele stated in the document.

According to HRW, the norms of human rights and international humanitarian law, requires that “All crimes require prosecution, regardless of who is to blame.”

HRW urged International donors and other key partners who have rightfully stepped up efforts to help President Ouattara’s government rebuild the country “to ensure that justice is done – and is seen to be done – for both sides in Cote d’Ivoire.

“If the international community wants Côte d’Ivoire to become the peaceful and prosperous heart of West Africa, as it used to be, these partners need champion impartial justice for all Ivorians irrespective of affiliation,” HRW stated.

HRW also called the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide to the relevant authorities in Côte d’Ivoire, including President Ouattara, the Justice Minister, and the Abidjan and Daloa prosecutors, a report that identified individuals who should be investigated for their possible involvement in serious crimes to ensure that victims see justice done.

The 130-page document titled: “‘They Killed Them Like It Was Nothing’: The Need for Justice for Côte d’Ivoire’s Post-Election Crimes,” details the war crimes and likely crimes against humanity committed by forces under both former President Gbagbo and Incumbent President Ouattara.

The document catalogs the horrific human rights abuses that took place from November 2010 to June 2011, alleging that at least 3,000 people were killed and 150 women raped and other targeted acts perpetrated along political, ethnic, and religious lines.

The report also explores the accountability efforts of President Ouattara’s government up to date, including charges brought by the civilian or military prosecutor against at least 118 members of the former government.

The report is based on research conducted during six field missions between January and July 2011, including four in Abidjan and two along the Ivorian-Liberian border.

HRW researchers interviewed over 500 victims and witnesses to the violence as well as members of the armed forces on both sides, Ouattara government officials, journalists, medical professionals, representatives of human rights and humanitarian organizations, United Nations officials, and diplomats in Abidjan, New York, Washington, and Paris.

Source: GNA

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.