The decision taken today by Côte d’Ivoire to send former militia leader Charles Blé Goudé, accused of crimes against humanity, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a key step towards justice for the victims of serious crimes following elections three years ago, said Amnesty International.
“This is a case we have been concerned about for over a year. The Ivorian authorities should promptly turn over Charles Blé Goudé to the ICC as they have pledged, bringing hope to some of the victims of the violence that plagued Cote d’Ivoire for a six month period in 2010 and 2011,” said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director, Law and Policy, Amnesty International
However, the delay in surrendering Charles Blé Goudé to the ICC is of concern. He was held in an unlawful place of detention without access for a lawyer for over a year since his extradition from Ghana to Côte d’Ivoire.”
In January, Amnesty International called attention to Ble Goude’s detention in a Ministry of Interior facility, the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance, where Amnesty International has documented cases of incommunicado detention and torture of supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo.
The Ivorian authorities must ensure that the suspect’s rights are respected during his transfer to The Hague.
Amnesty International also urges Côte d’Ivoire to immediately surrender the former First Lady, Simone Gbagbo to the ICC. She is wanted by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity. The Ivorian authorities have challenged the surrender request to the ICC and she remains in detention.
Charles Blé Goudé was detained in Côte d’Ivoire unlawfully without access to a lawyer and due process.
Almost three years after the end of the post-electoral crisis resulting in almost 3,000 deaths, known or suspected supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo continue to be victims of human rights violations, such as prolonged detention without trial and no regular access to lawyers and relatives.
In the past two years, Amnesty International has documented hundreds of cases of individuals who were held in detention for months without access to relatives or lawyers because of their real of alleged support of former President Gbagbo.
The Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI, the national army) and the military police were responsible for numerous human rights violations after arresting and detaining individuals often on the basis of ethnicity and political affiliations.
These acts were made possible by the use of informal places of detention, where individuals suspected of acts against state security were held in inhumane and degrading conditions, incommunicado, sometimes for long periods. Many were tortured and some have been released following payment of a ransom.
Amnesty International has only been able to identify active criminal investigations against supporters of Laurent Gbagbo. The organization found no evidence of any adequate investigations into the security forces and the serious post-electoral violations they are accused of.
Former President Laurent Gbagbo was transferred to the ICC in The Hague in November 2011 and faces charges of crimes against humanity. A decision regarding these charges is expected this year.