Annual Report: Côte D’Ivoire 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Côte D’Ivoire 2013

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REPUBLIC OF CÔTE D’IVOIRE

Head of state Alassane Ouattara

Head of government Daniel Kablan Duncan (replaced Jeannot Ahoussou-Kouadio)

Throughout the year people were arbitrarily detained and tortured against a backdrop of continued insecurity and attacks by unidentified armed combatants. Many people were displaced as a result. Freedom of the press was under attack and newspapers banned. Legal proceedings at national and international levels were slow; many detainees remained in detention without trial. Impunity continued, notably for supporters of the authorities who committed international crimes during the 2011 post-election crisis. The dialogue and reconciliation process was stalled.

Background

Insecurity persisted throughout the year, with attacks launched by unidentified armed combatants against military targets. There were military and civilian casualties as well as ethnic and political tensions between security services and civilians. Attacks increased after June when seven peacekeepers with the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) were killed along with 10 civilians in the south-west of the country by militias from Liberia. These attacks triggered new population displacements and led to waves of arrests. The authorities accused the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), the party of former President Laurent Gbagbo, of orchestrating them and declared that they had foiled several attempted coups and plots to destabilize the government. The FPI denied these accusations.

As part of the process to reform the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI), initiated in December 2011, a military police force was created to end abuses committed by the army. In practice, however, the force arbitrarily detained and tortured real or supposed opponents. In addition, throughout the year elements of the armed forces as well as Dozos (state-sponsored militia) continued to arbitrarily detain and torture people with total impunity.

In a context of mutual distrust between the government of President Ouattara and the FPI, attempts to resume political dialogue failed. The FPI continued to condition its participation in political life on the release of its members arrested after the post-election crisis, including Laurent Gbagbo.

Members of ethnic groups (including Bétés and Guérés) who were generally accused of being supporters of former President Gbagbo were targeted on ethnic grounds, notably in the west of the country where Dozos reportedly prevented returning internally displaced people from accessing their land or imposed arbitrary payments.

Arbitrary detention

More than 200 people suspected of threatening state security, including members of the FPI, faced illegal detention, mostly in unrecognized places of detention. Many were still detained without trial by the end of the year while others were released after paying a ransom.

  • In March, 77 people were arrested on suspicion of attempting to destabilize state power. All were former members of the Defence and Security Forces (FDS, former regular army) and were held in an FRCI camp in Abidjan. They were released without charge after two months.
  • In August, an FPI member was detained in Abidjan by two men in plain clothes and accused of being a militiaman. He was released two days later after his parents paid a ransom.

Torture and deaths in custody

The FRCI regularly resorted to torture and other ill-treatment against people suspected of armed attacks and political plots. Suspects were sometimes held for long periods in unrecognized places of detention before being brought before a judge and transferred to prison.