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Côte d’Ivoire: The Victor's Law

    Nahibly Camp a few hours after its destruction on 20 July 2012. © Amnesty International
    Nahibly Camp a few hours after its destruction on 20 July 2012. © Amnesty International
    February 26, 2013

    Almost two years after the end of the post-electoral crisis which resulted in almost 3,000 deaths, Côte d’Ivoire continues to be home to serious human rights violations committed against known or suspected supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo. These violations were committed in response to an increase in armed attacks on military and strategic objectives which have created a climate of general insecurity.

    The Forces républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI, Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire, the national army) and the military police were responsible for numerous human rights violations after arresting and detaining individuals outside any legal framework and often on the base of ethnic and political motivations. These exactions were made possible by the multiplication of places of detention not recognized as such where individuals suspected of attempts against state security were held incommunicado, sometimes for long periods, and in inhumane and degrading conditions. Many were tortured and some have been released against payment of a ransom.

    Amnesty International is extremely concerned by this failure to comply with essential safeguards in the protection of prisoners and by the fact that the entire judicial process seems to be running contrary to the fundamental norms of international law and Ivorian legislation (denial of access to a lawyer, false statements dictated by interrogating soldiers and, in particular, "confessions" extracted under torture).

    Beyond the economic capital, Abidjan, and the major cities of the south, the general atmosphere of tension is particularly evident in the west of the country which remains plagued by ethnic dissensions fuelled by land disputes. This region, the most scarred by the decade of instability in the country, has once again been the scene of violence during the attack in July 2012 on the last internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Nahibly near the city of Duékoué (450 km from Abidjan). This attack was carried out by local people supported by Dozos, a militia of traditional hunters sponsored by the state and the army. Many testimonies collected by Amnesty International attest to the arrests, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and a systematic attempt by attackers to erase the IDP camp.

    To Amnesty International's knowledge, none of the perpetrators of serious human rights violations and abuses described in this report have been brought to justice or even suspended from their duties. This illustrates the failure of the Ivorian authorities to establish the rule of law nearly two years after the new authorities came to power.

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