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.
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.
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.
- In September, Touré Moussa, director of the newspaper Nord Sud Quotidien, was briefly arrested and interrogated by gendarmes in Abidjan following publication of an article questioning promotions in the army. Some days later, he was again summoned by the gendarmerie for giving a radio interview on the reasons for his arrest.
In September, the UN Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights presented his report on the impact of the 2006 toxic waste dumping in Abidjan. The dumping reportedly resulted in the death of 15 people and caused more than 100,000 people to seek medical assistance. The rapporteur identified an urgent need to address decontamination, health care and compensation issues.
Also in September, nearly 30,000 victims who had brought a claim for compensation against the multinational company Trafigura before the High Court in the UK reached an out-of-court settlement in which the company agreed to pay the claimants approximately US$45 million. However, in October an individual falsely claiming to represent all of the victims in the settlement successfully applied to an Ivorian court to freeze the money, thereby preventing its distribution, and have it transferred to his organization. In November, another Ivorian court refused his application to transfer the money but kept the freezing order in place. By the end of the year the claimants in the UK settlement were still awaiting their compensation.
Amnesty International visit/report
An Amnesty International delegation visited Côte d’Ivoire in February.
Côte d’Ivoire: Authorities must ensure toxic waste compensation reaches victims (5 November 2009)