It Looks Like Nothing Ever Happened Here
Still no justice one year after Nahibly camp attack
One year ago, on 20 July 2012, Nahibly Camp, home to an estimated 2,500 internally displaced persons, near the town of Duékoué in western Côte d’Ivoire, was attacked and destroyed by a large crowd of local townspeople, Dozos - a state-supported militia of traditional hunters -, and elements of the Ivorian army. UN soldiers and police personnel posted at the camp failed or were unable to stop the attack. Local political and military officials who were present during the attack did nothing to prevent it nor to protect the internally displaced persons (IDPs), some of whom were beaten and killed. To the contrary, members of the armed forces, the Forces républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI), arrested scores of people as they fled the camp, some of whom were then subjected to enforced disappearance and extrajudicial execution.
The attack at Nahibly raises concerns similar to those that emerged in the March-April 2011 widespread and systematic attack directed against the civilian population in the Duékoué area. In both cases, members of the FRCI and the Dozo militia attacked a group of people belonging to the Guéré ethnic group, which is widely perceived to support the former President Laurent Gbagbo. In both cases, the military and police attached to the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and posted near or at the site failed to protect the people targeted in the attack. Similarly, in neither of these two cases did the Ivorian authorities take immediate action to suspend from duty any military personnel allegedly involved in the attacks or end the de facto policing and security role played by the Dozo militia. Finally, in both instances, there has been virtually no progress towards accountability even though inquiries have been opened. The investigation into the Nahibly attack has made some progress such as the exhumation of bodies from a well in Duékoué in October 2012 after considerable pressure from families and local activists and the fact that the judicial authorities heard several victims’ relatives; however impunity still prevails, denying victims and their relatives the possibility of establishing the truth and obtaining reparation.
In the face of this entrenched climate of impunity, in February 2013 Amnesty International called for an international commission of enquiry into the violations and abuses committed in Nahibly. The Ivorian authorities rejected this recommendation, claiming that the national justice system was able and willing to shed light on the events and provide reparation to the victims. However, five months later there is no evidence that this is the case.
In this document, marking the first anniversary of the Nahibly attack, Amnesty International reiterates its call to President Alassane Ouattara to live up to his repeated promises to put an end to impunity and ensure justice, truth and reparation for all the victims of the post electoral crisis.
“Nature is growing back, making it look like nothing ever happened here.”
- Ivorian human rights defender
Ensuring a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation of the attack at Nahibly - in accordance with international law and standards - constitutes a key opportunity for the Ivorian government to demonstrate its good faith and to prove its willingness and ability to shed light on all human rights violations committed in the country during the past decade. It is not only a matter of providing justice for past abuses. It is also a key element in preventing similar serious violations and abuses from happening again. Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the real risk that similar violations will occur again in the western part of Côte d’Ivoire, given the longstanding impunity, the prevailing insecurity, the pervasive hostility against groups perceived to be supporters of Laurent Gbagbo and the law enforcement role played by the Dozos with the tacit support of the Ivorian authorities.