3 October 2011 The International Criminal Court (ICC) today authorized its prosecutor to probe alleged abuses committed during the recent post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire – the seventh investigation in Africa and the first in a State that is not party to the treaty that set up the Court.
The pre-trial chamber granted the prosecutor’s request to open an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed following the November 2010 presidential run-off elections, “as well as with regard to crimes that may be committed in the future in the context of this situation,” stated a news release from the court.
It also requested the prosecutor to provide, within one month, any additional information on “potentially relevant crimes” committed in the West African nation between 2002 and 2010.
In June, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested authorization from the Court to open an investigation after a preliminary examination led him to conclude that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction were committed in the country since 28 November 2010.
The violence erupted when former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after he lost the United Nations-certified election to Alassane Ouattara, who was eventually sworn in after Mr. Gbagbo surrendered in April.
According to the sources quoted by the prosecution in its application, at least 3,000 persons were killed, 72 persons disappeared and 520 persons were subject to arbitrary arrest and detentions during the post-election violence.
There are also over 100 reported cases of rape, while the number of unreported incidents is believed to be considerably higher.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo welcomed today’s decision, adding that the ICC investigation should be part of national and international efforts to prevent future crimes in Côte d’Ivoire.
The recently-established Truth, Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission would be a central piece of such efforts, and national authorities could define other activities to help the victims, ensure peaceful coexistence and prevent future violence. “Promoting justice and reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire must be our common endeavour,” he said in a statement.
This will be the first time the ICC, which is based in The Hague, opens a case in a State that is not party to the Rome Statute, which set up the court.
Côte d’Ivoire has, however, accepted the jurisdiction of the Court – a decision taken in April 2003 and reconfirmed by the presidency as recently as May this year.
Côte d’Ivoire is now the seventh investigation in Africa for the ICC, in addition to the Central African Republic (CAR), the Darfur region of western Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda, Kenya and Libya.
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