Côte d’Ivoire: UN-appointed probe finds serious rights abuses after elections

Families take shelter in the Catholic Mission in the western town of Duékoué, Côte d’Ivoire

10 June 2011 – Serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law were committed following last November’s presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, according to investigators tasked by the United Nations Human Rights Council with probing alleged abuses.

The International Commission of Inquiry, which submitted its report to the Council in Geneva yesterday, said the violations were committed by both the Forces de Défense et de Sécurité (FDS), loyal to Côte d’Ivoire’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, and the Forces Républicaines that fought for President Alassane Ouattara, who defeated Mr. Gbagbo in the elections.

The Commission also calls for the establishment of an independent mechanism on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a statement issued today. The UN Human Rights Council will consider the report on Wednesday.

The Commission visited Côte d’Ivoire from 4 to 28 May, going to the commercial capital, Abidjan, and to the western, northern and southern regions of the country including Duékoué, Guiglo and Korogho. It also travelled to neighbouring Liberia where thousands of Ivorian refugees fled during the conflict.

Among its recommendations is that the Ivorian Government makes sure that the perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to justice.

Violence erupted in Côte d’Ivoire last December when Mr. Gbagbo refused to step down after he lost the UN-certified presidential run-off to Mr. Ouattara, who was sworn in as president last month after Mr. Gbagbo surrendered in April, and much of the violence ceased.

In a related development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Arnauld Antoine Akodjènou of Benin as his Deputy Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire.

Mr. Akodjènou will replace Abou Moussa of Chad, who was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), based in Libreville, Gabon.

Mr. Akodjènou, currently Inspector General of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), brings to the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) 25 years of humanitarian, political and management experience from his service with the refugee agency.

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