Annual Report: Cote d'Ivoire 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Cote d'Ivoire 2010

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Head of state Laurent Gbagbo
Head of government Guillaume Soro
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 21.1 million
Life expectancy 56.8 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 129/117 per 1,000
Adult literacy 48.7 per cent

Presidential elections scheduled originally for 2005 were again postponed. Government security forces and the Forces Nouvelles (New Forces), a coalition of armed groups in control of the north since 2002, continued to commit human rights abuses; harassment and physical assault remained rampant, notably at roadblocks.

Background

Despite some progress in the voter identification process and strong pressure from the international community, presidential elections, scheduled for November, were again postponed due to delays in voter registration. Disarmament of pro-government militias and armed elements of the Forces Nouvelles provided for by the 2007 Ouagadougou peace agreement continued to be impeded by mutual distrust and disagreement as to whether disarmament should be carried out before or after the elections.

In October, following a report by a UN panel of experts identifying seven instances of violations of the arms embargo by both sides, the UN Security Council renewed for a further year the embargo on arms transfers and diamond exports as well as sanctions against individuals. The Security Council stressed that these measures could be reviewed once free, fair and transparent presidential elections were held, but warned that more sanctions would be considered if the electoral process was threatened. The Security Council also decided that international peacekeeping forces would remain in the country until after the presidential elections.

Unlawful killings

The security forces were responsible for unlawful killings and widespread abuses committed to extort money at checkpoints and during inspections of identity documents.

  • In January, following a quarrel between two farmers, one of them, Yao Kra, was shot dead by a gendarme reportedly at point-blank range in a village near San Pedro, some 400 kilometres west of Abidjan. His relatives lodged a complaint before the court but no progress in the case was reported and the gendarme allegedly responsible was not arrested or brought to justice.

Abuses by armed groups

Fighters and supporters of the New Forces were responsible for human rights abuses, including torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and widespread extortion. A climate of impunity prevailed due to the absence of a functioning judicial system in the north of the country.

  • In June, armed elements of the New Forces attacked the village of Pétionnara, in the centre-north of the country, a region where the exploitation of gold mines has created tensions between the population and elements of the New Forces. The armed elements raided and looted homes, fired in the air and beat people trying to resist. Some days later, officials from the New Forces came to the village and apologized for the attack but no action was apparently taken against those responsible.

Freedom of expression – media

Several journalists and newspapers were harassed by the authorities.