Côte d’Ivoire: Independent expert expresses concerns about political fragmentation and urges equitable justice

GENEVA (12 June 2013) – “Although the basis of the democratic reconstruction in Côte d’Ivoire is in place and the social and economic recovery is under way, the country is facing a profound political fragmentation,” Independent Expert Doudou Diène said, during the presentation of his report at the 23rd session of the Human Rights Council. He underlined that building an inclusive democracy, supported by equitable justice, remained one of the major challenges for a sustainable way out of the crisis.

“Justice is at the center of both democratic reconstruction and of national reconciliation. It is an essential element for the return of the rule of law and for the return of the confidence of the Ivorian population,” Mr Diène said, acknowledging the efforts by the Ivorian authorities to reinforce the justice system.

The Independent Expert said that the situation of detainees, in particular those linked to the post-electoral crisis, remained a crucial issue. The recent decision to transfer to Abidjan high-profile detainees, including Simone Gbagbo for medical reasons, was a sign of openness and deserved to be highlighted. The Expert, however, noted that the “consideration for the right to health of the detainees should be accompanied to their right to be defended, to be tried or freed”.

On the subject of reconciliation, the Independent Expert suggested that the mandate of the National Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission be extended beyond its term in September 2013. This extension could enable the Commission to finalize the activities scheduled in its terms of reference.

In his report to the Human Rights Council, the Independent Expert also noted the “urgent necessity for Côte d’Ivoire to work towards social peace and stability from the perspective of a climate favourable to investment and the economic and social progress necessary to satisfy the basic needs of the population”.

“Côte d’Ivoire has benefited from significant economic prosperity. However the social impact of this growth is still expected in the daily life of the Ivorians,” Mr. Diène said.

His report was drafted following the international conference on impunity and equitable justice, held at the initiative of the Expert, in February 2013, in Yamoussoukro and his recent visit to Côte d’Ivoire from 28 April to 4 May 2013. This is the result of several meetings and consultations with government officials, political parties, civil society, diplomatic corps and the development partners of Côte d’Ivoire, including the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire.

The Independent Expert insisted on the urgent necessity of political dialogue and on improvement in the organization of the elections, in particular the revision of the electoral list and the reform of the Independent Electoral Commission. Such measures could encourage the opposition to be more open to the government appeals for dialogue.

“The political dialogue remains the fundamental condition of the economic and social recovery of Côte d’Ivoire. The ultimate challenge is to consider the national democratic framework as the only credible ground for the political debate, able to delegitimize the recourse to violence and to reinforce a culture of peace,” the Independent Expert said.

Mr. Diene reiterated his encouragement for the authorities who have worked towards improving the country’s security situation. The Independent Expert drew a close link between the restoration of security, the institutions of the justice, and the social and economic recovery of the population.

Furthermore, the Independent Expert reiterated his call for the arms embargo on Côte d’Ivoire to be lifted. “Lifting the arms embargo on Côte d’Ivoire needs to be addressed urgently in order to reinforce internal security and face the risk of destabilization inherent to the crisis in the Sahelo-Saharian region.”

(*) Check the Independent Expert’s latest report on Côte d’Ivoire: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session23/A-HRC-23-38_fr.pdf
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