UN expert urges Côte d’Ivoire to boost democracy through human rights and impartial justice

GENEVA (20 March 2013) – The United Nations Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire, Doudou Diène, urged the Ivorian authorities give the highest priority to boosting the democratic process, promoting human rights and consolidating the economic and social reconstruction process.

During the presentation of his latest report* to the Human Rights Council, Mr. Diène also call on the international community to maintain and strengthen its support to Côte d’Ivoire in order to sustain the democratic process and the current process of economic and social reconstruction, and to further pluralism and national reconciliation, which progress is being threatened by political polarization.

“The urgency of the need for political reconciliation and for democratic, economic and social reconstruction is made stronger by the crisis in Mali, the political, military, religious and economic implications of which could destabilize all countries in the region profoundly and in the long term,” he warned. “A multicultural, democratic, egalitarian society that respects human rights is the best defence against this new peril that is fuelled by violence, intolerance and discrimination.”

The Independent Expert’s report is the outcome of his third mission to Côte d’Ivoire, from 24 September to 12 October 2012, when he gathered information on the increasingly precarious human rights situation, which in his view could undermine significant democratic, economic and social gains in the country.

Mr. Diène reaffirmed the urgent need to expedite the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and of security sector reform. “In spite of the Government’s efforts, the delay in this area is contributing to the deterioration of the security situation in the country and giving rise to human rights violations,” he said.

“These reforms will require significant amounts of funding to be deployed that are well beyond the current capacity of Côte d’Ivoire to absorb future disarmed and demobilized ex-combatants,” the human rights expert underlined.

“The authors of human rights violations must be prosecuted regardless of their political, tribal, regional or religious affiliation,” Mr. Diène stressed, “in order for the judicial process to be useful to Ivorian society as a whole, to make a real contribution to national reconciliation and to drive forward a new dynamic that is more respectful of human life and dignity.”

“The fight against impunity is under way although, to date, it remains a one-way process that is neither fair nor swift and is, essentially, directed at the supporters of former President Gbagbo,” the expert noted. Many political and military figures close to the former president who were involved in human rights violations and whose names have appeared in UN reports during the past 10 years have now been charged and detained.

In his report, the UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire described the democratic, economic and social reconstruction; the promotion of a national political ethic; the restoration of community life; and the eradication of the culture of violence, as the major challenges currently faced by the country.

“In order to face its internal and external challenges, Côte d’Ivoire needs the international community’s vigilant support to reinforce a democratic and pluralist dynamics, an impartial justice, a human rights culture nurtured by the traditional values and practices of community life, and the urgent lifting of the international embargo,” Mr. Diène underscored.

The mandate of the Independent Expert was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 for a period of one year to assist the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and relevant actors in the follow-up of the recommendations of the International Commission of Inquiry on Côte d’Ivoire and the Human Rights Council, including the ones addressed to the international community. As Independent Expert, Mr. Doudou Diène acts independently from any Government or organization. He was previously the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in 2002-08.

(*) Check the full report: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A-HRC-22-66_en.pdf

OHCHR Country page – Cote d’Ivoire: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CIIndex.aspx

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