Annual Report: Côte d'Ivoire 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Côte d'Ivoire 2011

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  • In April, a student, Amani Wenceslas, was killed by a stray bullet during an exchange of fire between two factions of the New Forces in Bouaké. Two armed fighters were also killed during this clash.

After the November election, the New Forces in the border region with Liberia in the west of the country reportedly threatened and harassed people accused of being supporters of Laurent Gbagbo. As a result, thousands of people fled to Liberia.

Violence and impunity in the west of the country

Throughout the year, people living in the west of the country were physically and sexually abused by criminal gangs and militiamen close to President Gbagbo's party. Neither the state security forces nor the New Forces, which each controlled parts of the area, provided protection. Both forces extorted money and attacked people at checkpoints with complete impunity.

After the November election, there were several reports of clashes between supporters of the two presidential candidates.

  • In November, in Sinfra, a retired gendarme shot at a group of alleged supporters of Alassane Ouattara, who then went to the retired gendarme's home and killed his wife.

Freedom of expression - media

Several journalists, newspapers and media outlets were harassed and threatened by the authorities.

  • In May, Dembélé Al Seni, editor of the daily L'Expression, and one of his journalists were summoned to the headquarters of the Directorate for Surveillance of the Territory (DST). They were interrogated for several hours about their coverage of opposition demonstrations in February in Gagnoa. They had provided video footage of the violent reaction of the security forces to the French TV news station France 24, which was suspended for several days for reporting these events.

After the November election, several newspapers close to Alassane Ouattara were prevented from publishing for several days in December. Foreign media including Radio France Internationale and France 24 were also banned from broadcasting until the end of the year.

Corporate accountability

More than one year after reaching an out-of-court settlement with the oil-trading company Trafigura over waste dumping in Côte d'Ivoire, thousands of victims were still waiting to receive their compensation money.

In January, an Ivorian appeal court ruled that the compensation money should be transferred to a group called the National Coordination of Toxic Waste Victims of Côte d'Ivoire (CNVDT-CI), which falsely claimed to represent the 30,000 victims involved in the UK settlement.

Following the court's decision to transfer the compensation to CNVDT-CI, the claimants' legal representatives saw no option but to reach an agreement with CNVDT-CI to distribute the funds jointly. The joint distribution process which followed was plagued by repeated delays and concerns over CNVDT-CI's role. By July, an estimated 23,000 people had received compensation, but the joint distribution process came to a halt shortly thereafter. In September, CNVDT-CI began a new distribution process that was again halted. By the end of the year, thousands of legitimate claimants were still awaiting payment and there were serious concerns about the future of the remaining compensation funds given the lack of transparency of the process and allegations regarding misappropriation of funds.