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C˘te d Ivoire: Latest Statements and News
03 Oct 2011
Please find below information related to today's decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to authorize the opening of an investigation in Côte d'Ivoire. This message includes ICC press statements (I), Coalition press statements (II) and related news articles (III).
Please take note of the Coalition's policy on situations before the ICC (below), which explicitly states that the Coalition will not take a position on potential and current situations before the Court or situations under analysis. The Coalition, however, will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC.
For additional information you may refer to the Coalition's website at www.coalitionfortheicc.org
I. ICC STATEMENTS
1. "ICC Pre-Trial Chamber III authorises the Prosecutor to launch an investigation in Côte d'Ivoire," ICC press statement, ICC-CPI-20111003-PR730, 3 October 2011
"On 3 October 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) granted the Prosecutor's request to commence an investigation in Côte d'Ivoire with respect to alleged crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, committed since 28 November 2010, as well as with regard to crimes that may be committed in the future in the context of this situation.
Pre-Trial Chamber III, composed of Judges Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi (presiding), Adrian Fulford and Elizabeth Odio Benito, also requested the Prosecutor to revert to the Chamber within one month with any additional information that is available to him on potentially relevant crimes committed between 2002 and 2010.
The Presiding Judge, Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, while agreeing with the majority on the decision to authorize the commencement of the investigation, will issue a separate and partially dissenting opinion in due course.
Côte d'Ivoire, which is not party to the Rome Statute, had accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC on 18 April 2003; more recently, and on both 14 December 2010 and 3 May 2011, the Presidency of Côte d'Ivoire reconfirmed the country's acceptance of this jurisdiction.
After a preliminary examination, the ICC Prosecutor concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed in Côte d'Ivoire since 28 November 2010.
The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorisation of an Investigation into the Situation in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or by e-mail at: [email protected]"
2. "ICC Prosecutor: This decision ensures justice for victims in Côte d'Ivoire. I will conduct effective, independent and impartial investigations," ICC Office of the Prosecutor, 3 October 2011, http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/exeres/AB7FB1AD-04FA-4C88-8B68-E6A17F35C201.htm
"This is a judicial process, and the investigation will be guided by the Law and only the Law. From today, the Prosecution will collect evidence impartially and independently, and as soon as possible we will present our cases before the Judges, who will ultimately decide who should face trial.
Our investigation should be part of national and international efforts to prevent future crimes in Côte d'Ivoire. The recently-established Truth, Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission would be a central piece of such efforts. National authorities could define other activities to, help the victims, ensure peaceful coexistence and prevent future violence. Promoting justice and reconciliation in Côte d'Ivoire must be our common endeavour.
For further information, please contact: [email protected] You can also follow the Court's activities on YouTube and Twitter.
Source: Office of the Prosecutor"
II. COALITION PRESS STATEMENTS
1. "Côte d'Ivoire: ICC Judges OK Investigation: Important Step for Victims, But Cases for Crimes Prior to Election Also Key" Human Rights Watch press release, 3 October 2011, http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/10/03/c-te-d-ivoire-icc-judges-ok-investigation
"(Brussels) - The International Criminal Court (ICC) judges took a major step to ensure justice for victims in Côte d'Ivoire by authorizing the ICC prosecutor to open an investigation into crimes committed in the country's devastating post-election violence, Human Rights Watch said today.
In May, Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara asked the ICC to open an investigation into the post-election violence, indicating that Ivorian courts would not be able to prosecute those at the highest levels for the worst crimes committed.
"The ICC judges have taken a critical step so that those who committed the gravest crimes in Côte d'Ivoire are held accountable," said Elise Keppler, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch. "The court responded to the Ivorian president's request to open an investigation to ensure justice is done."
A majority of the judges requested the prosecutor to provide additional information concerning crimes committed between 2002 and 2010 within one month in order to take a decision on whether the investigation should be extended to cover this period.
Serious crimes in violation of international law - including war crimes and likely crimes against humanity - were committed by forces loyal to former president Laurent Gbagbo and current president Ouattara between December 2010 and April 2011. Crimes under the ICC's Rome Statute documented by Human Rights Watch in January, March, April, and June of this year include murder, rape and other sexual violence, enforced disappearances, and intentional attacks against the civilian population.
But the post-election violence capped more than a decade of human rights abuses in Côte d'Ivoire, beginning with the 2000 election violence and the 2002-2003 armed conflict and its aftermath. Human Rights Watch, the United Nations, and others documented grave violations of international law by forces under the control of Gbagbo and by the former rebel army under the current prime minister, Guillaume Soro, including murder, sexual violence, and the use of child soldiers. No one has been credibly prosecuted for the crimes of this period, and a 2004 UN Commission of Inquiry report on crimes during the 2002-2003 conflict has been kept secret.
"The past decade - not just the last year - were marked by horrific abuses in Côte d'Ivoire," said Keppler. "The investigation should cover crimes committed prior to the election for the ICC's involvement to have maximum impact."
In July, 40 Ivorian civil society groups issued a declaration calling for ICC investigations to look back at crimes committed since 2002.
Even if an ICC investigation covers crimes committed prior to 2010, the ICC prosecutor has so far pursued only a small number of cases in situations under investigation. Human Rights Watch called on donor countries and institutions to help Côte d'Ivoire find the support it needs to pursue impartial, independent, and credible domestic prosecutions of serious crimes that violate international law, in addition to ICC cases.
"Justice for Côte d'Ivoire demands more than ICC prosecutions," said Keppler. "Fair, effective trials before the domestic courts are also needed. Donors should assist Côte d'Ivoire in this effort, especially to ensure proceedings do not target only the Gbagbo camp."
Domestic criminal investigations and prosecutions have begun for post-election crimes, but they appear glaringly one-sided. Military and civilian prosecutors have brought charges against at least 118 Gbagbo allies for crimes including murder, rape, and the concealment of bodies. In stark contrast to the prosecution of those from Gbagbo's side, no member of the armed forces loyal to Ouattara during the conflict has been arrested on charges for crimes committed during that period. The pro-Ouattara forces were known as the Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire during the armed conflict, but, on September 2, the reunited army chose to revert to its previous name, the National Armed Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (FANCI).
Côte d'Ivoire is not a state party to the ICC, but the Ivorian government in 2003 submitted a declaration giving the court jurisdiction for events after September 19, 2002. Ouattara reaffirmed the declaration at the end of 2010. While such declarations provide jurisdiction, they do not trigger an ICC investigation, which requires a referral by an ICC state party, referral by the UN Security Council, or a decision by the prosecutor to act on his initiative.
Human Rights Watch urged the Ivorian government to ratify the court's Rome Statute to become a party to the court as soon as possible.
The ICC prosecutor submitted a request on June 23, 2011, to open an investigation into crimes committed following the November 2010 presidential election in Côte d'Ivoire. A decision by the ICC prosecutor to act on his own initiative to open an investigation - known as using his propio motu power - requires approval by the ICC judges."
2. "ICC OPENS INVESTIGATION IN COTE D'IVOIRE - Judges of International Criminal Court Authorize Prosecutor to Investigate 2010 Post-Election Violence; Côte d'Ivoire Becomes Court's Seventh Investigation," CICC Media Advisory, 3 October 2011, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/2ICC_CI_Investigation_Opening_CICC_Media_advisory_Oct2011-1.pdf
"WHAT: On 3 October 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized the opening of an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Côte d'Ivoire following the presidential election of 28 November 2010.
WHY: On 23 June 2011, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested authorization from judges to open an investigation in Côte d'Ivoire. The Chamber considered there was a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation and that the matter appears to fall within the Court's jurisdiction.
NEXT STEPS: Depending on the outcome of his investigation, the prosecutor will present one or more cases to ICC judges, who will decide whether or not to issue arrest warrants based on the evidence. The judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III also requested that the ICC prosecutor revert to the Chamber within one month with any additional information that is available to him on potentially relevant crimes committed between 2002 and 2010.
COMMENTS: "Ivorian civil society organizations welcome the long-awaited opening of an ICC investigation and the prospects of accountability for wrongs that have gone unpunished in the country," said Ali Ouattara, president of the Côte d'Ivoire Coalition for the ICC (CI-CPI). "However, we regret that ICC investigations will only cover crimes committed after 28 November 2010. Cote d'Ivoire was a theatre of violence long before the 2010 elections and victims of crimes committed during the civil war-which we understand has also been the subject of the prosecutor's preliminary examination-have received few answers to date," Ouattara added. "The ICC should also investigate crimes committed since 19 September 2002 as requested in the former government's April 2003 declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the Court."
"The Coalition urges ICC states parties as well as international and regional organizations to cooperate fully with the Court and the prosecutor in this investigation," said William R. Pace, convenor of the Coalition. "This includes facilitating the gathering of evidence as well as ensuring the arrest of suspects since the Court does not have its own police force," Pace added.
"In parallel, the Coalition urges the ICC to start thorough communications activities as soon as possible, reaching out to victims and affected communities as well as to civil society in the region, governments, media and the public at large," Pace continued. "The necessity for states parties to ensure that the ICC has sufficient financial resources for this new situation, including for outreach activities and the participation of victims in any possible proceedings, cannot be underestimated."
BACKGROUND: The Rome Statute-the ICC's founding treaty-allows non-states parties to accept the jurisdiction of the Court on an ad hoc basis (article 12(3)).The CDI investigation marks the first time that the Court has opened an investigation on this basis. For the Court to open an investigation a situation can be referred to the Court by a state party, the United Nations Security Council or it can be initiated by the ICC prosecutor himself, with authorization of the judges. The request made in June 2011 by the prosecutor was the second time in the Court's history that the he had sought to open an investigation on his own initiative, i.e. 'proprio motu', in accordance with Article 15 of the Rome Statute.
The ICC prosecutor has been examining the situation in Côte d'Ivoire since 2003 in order to determine whether an investigation was warranted, following the submission of a declaration by the Ivorian government recognizing the jurisdiction of the Court. On 14 December 2010, newly-elected President of Côte d'Ivoire Alassane Ouattara sent a letter to the Office of the Prosecutor reaffirming the Ivorian government's acceptance of the Court's jurisdiction. On 4 May 2011, President Ouattara reiterated his wish that the Court open an investigation. After a preliminary examination, the prosecutor concluded that there was a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court had been committed in Côte d'Ivoire since 28 November 2010.
The situation in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire is assigned to ICC Pre-Trial Chamber III, which is composed of Presiding Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito and Judge Adrian Fulford.
The ICC is the world's first permanent international court to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. There are currently 118 ICC states parties. Central to the Court's mandate is the principle of complementarity, which holds that the Court will only intervene if national legal systems are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. There are currently seven investigations before the Court: the Central African Republic; Cote d'Ivoire; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, the Sudan; Uganda; Kenya; and Libya. The ICC has publicly issued 18 arrest warrants and nine summonses to appear. Three trials are ongoing. The ICC prosecutor has also made public that it is examining eight situations on four continents: Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Republic of Korea, Nigeria and Palestine.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court is a global network of civil society organizations in over 150 countries working in partnership to strengthen international cooperation with the ICC; ensure that the Court is fair, effective and independent; make justice both visible and universal; and advance stronger national laws that deliver justice to victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. For more information, visit: www.coalitionfortheicc.org
Experts from human rights organizations members of the Coalition are available for background information and comment. List of experts available upon request to: [email protected] "
III. RELATED NEWS ARTICLES
1. "Int'l court OKs Ivory Coast violence probe," by Mike Corder, Associated Press, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h_f6TuezGMM5m-i2yUWTernFxzZw?docId=4d38959dc9bc4b6abe5e878ddf237419
2. "International criminal court to investigate Ivory Coast election violence," Reuters, 3 October 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/03/international-criminal-court-ivory-coast
3. "ICC to investigate Ivory Coast post-election violence," BBC, 3 October 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15148801
4. "International criminal court to probe war crimes in Ivory Coast," CNN, 3 October 2011
5. "Côte d'Ivoire : feu vert pour l'ouverture d'une enquête de la CPI" (Cote d'Ivoire: Green light for the opening of ICC investigation) Jeune Afrique, 3 October 2011
http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAWEB20111003111522/enquete-cpi-violences-laurent-gbagbocote-d-ivoire-feu-vert-pour-l-ouverture-d-une-enquete-de-la-cpi.html [in French]
6. "Côte d`Ivoire : l'enquête sera "impartiale", selon le procureur de la CPI" (Cote d'Ivoire : the investigation will be "unbiased" according to the ICC Prosecutor) AFP, 3 October 2011, http://news.abidjan.net/h/412449.html
The CICC's policy on the referral and prosecution of situations before the ICC:
The Coalition for the ICC is not an organ of the court. The CICC is an independent NGO movement dedicated to the establishment of the International Criminal Court as a fair, effective, and independent international organization. The Coalition will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC and to help coordinate global action to effectively implement the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Coalition will also endeavor to respond to basic queries and to raise awareness about the ICC's trigger mechanisms and procedures, as they develop. The Coalition as a whole, and its secretariat, do not endorse or promote specific investigations or prosecutions or take a position on situations before the ICC. However, individual CICC members may endorse referrals, provide legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local and other organizations in the course of their efforts. Communications to the ICC can be sent to:
P.O. Box 19519
2500 CM, The Hague