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Cote dIvoire: Latest Statements, News and Opinions
29 Nov 2011
Please find below information about recent developments related to the International Criminal Court's (ICC) investigation in Cote d'Ivoire.
This message includes the latest documents from the International Criminal Court (I), statements and articles by members of the Coalition for the ICC (II), and related news and opinions (III).
Please take note of the Coalition's policy on situations before the ICC (below), which explicitly states that the CICC 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.
I. ICC DOCUMENTS
1."Prosecution's provision of further information regarding potentially relevant crimes committed between 2002 and 2010," Filing by the ICC Office of the Prosecutor, 3 November 2011, http://icc-cpi.int/NR/exeres/59A0F520-6DE2-420A-8A0F-B10B587EE2F5.htm
On 3 November 2011, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor provided ICC Pre-�Trial Chamber (PTC) III with further information on potentially relevant crimes committed between 2002 and 2010 in Cote d'Ivoire. PTC III had ordered - in its decision of 3 October 2011 authorizing the opening of an ICC investigation in Cote d'Ivoire into violence following the presidential election of 28 November 2010 - that the prosecutor revert to the chamber within one month with any such information available to him.
2. "Statement by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on official visit to Cote d'Ivoire, October 15-16," Office of the Prosecutor, 14 October 2011, http://www.icc-cpi.int/menus/icc/press and media/press releases/statement141011?lan=en-GB
"I am grateful to President Ouattara for extending the invitation for me to conduct an official visit to Cote d'Ivoire. We will also meet members of the Opposition. We will meet with victims, and listen to their views and concerns. We believe it is critically important to meet with the Truth, Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission, which has a crucial mandate to contribute to the prevention of new crimes, the establishment of individual responsibilities and the reconciliation of all Ivorians.
My Office is closely monitoring election-related developments including in neighbouring countries such as Liberia, which could affect stabilisation throughout the West African region. We will pay close attention to the actions and statements of the political class, and in particular to the presidential candidates, including after the elections. Resorting to violence will not be tolerated."
II. COALITION DOCUMENTS
1."Cote d'Ivoire: 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Letter Writing Action," Amnesty International, 18 November 2011, http://coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/CDI_gender_violence_AI.pdf
""I was with my daughter at home in our bedroom when the militia and soldiers entered… They told us they were looking for arms… When they left, they took my daughter Sita... I tried to protect her but they pushed me to the ground. She came back a few hours later... She told me...they all took it in turns to rape her."
Mother of a girl who was raped in Abidjan on 18 December 2010.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire in September 2002 following a failed coup attempt, hundreds and possibly thousands, of women and girls have been victims of human rights violations including widespread and at times systematic rape, as well as other forms of sexual violence, committed by combatant forces or by civilians with close ties to these forces.
Women have again been targeted after the resumption of the post electoral violence in December 2010 where both parties loyal to the outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo and the internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara attacked women and girls, raping and beating them.
The scale of rape and sexual violence in Cote d'Ivoire during the armed conflict has been underestimated. Many women have been gang raped or have been abducted and forced into sexual slavery by fighters. Rape has often been used to humiliate the community to which women and girls belong and was often accompanied by the beating or further torture (including additional torture of a sexual nature) of the victim. Rape has been committed in public and in front of family members, including children. Some women have been raped next to the corpses of family members.
Throughout this ten year crisis, women have been the forgotten victims of this conflict. The extent of the attacks launched against women and girls amount to crimes against humanity as they were directed against a civilian population as part of a widespread or systematic attack, and as part of a state or organizational policy. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court also characterizes these abuses as crimes against humanity.
Although rape is a crime in Cote d'Ivoire, the Ivorian Penal Code does not define rape, which could make it difficult for survivors to obtain effective remedies, including equal and effective access to justice. This absence of definition has prevented many women and their advocates to lodge complaints before the judiciary and seek reparation.
Amnesty International believes it's essential for this obstacle to be lifted and is calling on the authorities of Cote d'Ivoire to amend the Penal Code to define rape and other crimes of sexual violence in a way that is consistent with existing international law as a first step to allow rape survivors to have access to effective remedies and reparations.
Call for Action:
Amnesty International is asking members to write to Ivorian authorities appealing to them to amend without delay the Penal Code in order to define rape in accordance with international law.
The new authorities, elected in November 2010, propose a draft law to amend the Penal Code to define rape within the next six months in order for the rape survivors to have access to judicial remedies including reparations.
Write letters to the President and the Minister of Justice asking them to amend the Penal Code to define rape."
2. "Ivory Coast: Victims' mixed expectations towards the ICC," by Ali Ouattara, president of Ivorian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CI-CPI), Access, Victims' Rights Working Group Bulletin, Issue 19, Winter 2011, http://www.vrwg.org/ACCESS/ENG19.pdf
"Ivory Coast just exited from a profound crisis, most evidenced by the post-electoral crisis. All Ivoirians, regard-less of their political affiliation, have suffered from it, one-way or another. If not a direct victim, everyone has had a parent, a next of kin or a friend who was victimised. However, it is unfortunate to see that only victims from one camp and period (the post-electoral crisis) will most probably be considered by the ongoing investigations. The recognition of the ICC's jurisdiction, which has recently been reconfirmed by the newly elected President, concerns solely the post-electoral period, which has seen Ouattara partisans' victory. All the victims from Gbagbo's side, who lost the elections, feel excluded. That feeling has been increased by the Prosecutor‟s request that investigations cover only the post-electoral period.
Ivory Coast has been experiencing a military-political crisis since 2002 that has led to grave violations of human rights perpetrated by both belligerents, namely the FDS (Forces de Defense et de Securite) derived from the former power, and the FAFN (Forces Armees des Forces Nouvelles) originating from the armed rebellion.
To put an end to impunity, ensure that perpetrators of the most serious crimes are sanctioned, and bring a durable peace through an independent and impartial justice, the Coalition Ivoirienne pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CI-CPI) has been on the forefront of a campaign to get the Ivoirian State to ratify the Rome Statute which created the ICC. However, for reasons linked to the incompatibility of the Rome Statute with the Ivoirian Constitution, according to the Constitutional Council's analysis, the Statute has not been ratified yet, despite the recognition of the ICC's jurisdiction from 19 October 2002 by the former Ivoirian authorities.
This recognition had raised victims' tremendous hope and comfort that in the near future they will obtain justice and reparation. Their disappointment was therefore great when the new Government reiterated the recognition of the Court's jurisdiction but only for the events that occurred during the post-electoral period, thus after 28 November 2010. This disappointment turned into desperation and frustration for victims when the Prosecutor requested the Pre-Trial Chamber to open an investigation referring solely to this period. Not only does the request's wording exclude thousands of victims, it also conveys the feeling of victors' justice and affects the credibility of the Court.
Today, a small glimmer of hope has come back following the 3 October 2011 decision of Pre Trial Chamber III, requesting the Prosecutor to provide supplementary information within a month regarding the events that took place between 2002 and 2010. It opens the door to the potential opening of an investigation regarding crimes committed before 28 November 2010. We all hope that the information collected by the Prosecutor will result in a broadening of the investigations going back to 2002, finally providing justice to the thousands of victims who do not know what to believe in anymore.
Although the authorisation to open an investigation was favourably received by most victims, one must admit that apart from the CI-CPI's work with victims in the field, some victims are reticent vis-à-vis the Government's efforts. Indeed, the Department of Justice has put in place a cell tasked with making an inventory of victims, but some victims find that cell too close to the Government, which was a party in the conflict. For some victims the only redress is either remaining silent or the CI-CPI.
Finally, it is important to note that the ICC would gain from more visible and pro active actions, in order to enhance victims' confidence. The success of its mission depends on it."
3. "SEEKING JUSTICE IN COTE D'IVOIRE," By Drissa Traore, first vice-president of the Ivorian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CI-CPI), The Monitor No. 43 / November 2011-April 2012, Coalition for the International Criminal Court, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/monitor43_english.pdf
"ON 3 OCTOBER 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) granted authorization to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Cote d'Ivoire (CDI) following the presidential election of 28 November 2010. While this has been a welcome and long-awaited development in the fight against impunity in CDI, the decision by the ICC prosecutor to restrict the investigation's time-frame to one that covers crimes committed only on or after 28 November 2010 has created a situation whereby the Court could be perceived to be applying selective justice. Although not a state party to the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over events in CDI from 19 September 2002 onwards, owing to a special declaration made by its leaders in 2003. For Ivorian civil society organizations (in particular those engaged in ensuring that the ICC is credible, independent and contributes to an effective fight against impunity), it is crucial that the ICC prosecutor investigate the entire period of crisis in CDI.
It is well known that violent conflict has been ever-present in CDI from September 2002 through May 2011. Grave crimes - documented by many independent observers - under the jurisdiction of the ICC have been committed by all sides of the conflict in CDI. Examples include the mass grave of Monoko-Zohi allegedly created by pro-Gbagbo forces in December 2002 and the massacres of Duekoue allegedly committed by pro-Ouattara forces in March 2011.
Prolonged conflict has torn apart the very fabric of society in CDI, and the ICC has in fact come to be seen as a key element in the reestablishment of the rule of law in the country. The crisis was marked in particular by the weak¬ening of the national justice system. The impartiality and independence of the judiciary was severely undermined, and with it, its ability to address crimes committed during the civil war as well as those connected to both sides of the disputed elections. Meanwhile, most police officers and magistrates left the north, an area formerly controlled by the New Forces (former rebels), to seek refuge in the southern region of the country. There is consequently an urgent need for a rapid redeployment of new officials in affected areas of the country in order to rebuild the justice system there. There is also a fear that senior officials in the administration - army, police and gendarmerie considered big fish - could escape from national justice for various reasons, including by benefiting from immunity or by the possible influence that they could have on the process of restoring peace.
In their decision authorizing the opening of an investigation in CDI from 28 November 2010, the judges of PTC III also ordered that the prosecutor submit any additional information available to him on potentially relevant crimes committed between 2002 and 2010, creating a window of opportunity that may allow the ICC to win over those who now doubt its impartiality.
Ivorian civil society therefore urges the ICC pre-trial chamber to use the information provided by the prosecutor to extend the timeframe of the investigation. Should this transpire, civil society calls on the prosecutor to investigate and prosecute all those most those responsible for bringing death and destruction to CDI from 2002 onwards, and bring justice to the far too many victims of this conflict. The ruptures between the pro- Ouattara supporters and pro-Gbagbo supporters cannot heal if justice is seen as serving one side or the other."
III. RELATED NEWS AND OPINIONS
1. "Gbagbo faces imminent transfer to International Criminal Court," 29 November 2011, AFP, http://www.rnw.nl/international-justice/article/gbagbo-faces-imminent-transfer-international-criminal-court
2. "Laurent Gbagbo inculpé par la Cour penale internationale," ("Laurent Gbagbo indicted by the International Criminal Court,") Le Monde, 29 November 2011, http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2011/11/29/laurent-gbagbo-inculpe-par-la-cour-penale-internationale_1610832_3212.html
3. "ICC/Cote d'Ivoire: New regime's lawyer expects arrest warrants before December 2011," http://www.hirondellenews.com/content/view/15020/564/
4. "Gbagbo at the door of the ICC," ("Gbagbo au seuil de la CPI"), Thomas Hofnung, Liberation, 20 November 2011, http://www.liberation.fr/monde/01012372484-gbagbo-au-seuil-de-la-cpi [In French]
5. "Imprisonment, International Criminal Court, (ICC): the uncle of Laurent Gbagbo speaks to Alassane Outarra," ("Emprisonnement, cour penale internationale (Cpi): L'oncle de Laurent Gbagbo parle à Alassane Ouattara"), Notre Voie, 28 November 2011, http://www.notrevoie.com/a_la_une.asp?id=42102 [In French]
6. "Transfer of Gbagbo to the ICC: Why the procedure cannot be stopped," ("Transfert de Gbagbo à la CPI: Pourquoi la procedure ne peut pas s'arrêter," Abidjan.net, 25 November 2011, http://news.abidjan.net/h/417602.html [In French]
7. Announcement of the transfer of Gbagbo to the ICC / Coulibaly Gervais: "We will stop all if it is effected" ("Annonce du transfert de Gbagbo à la Cpi / Coulibaly Gervais: "Nous arreterons tout si c'est effectif"), Abidjan.net, 19 November 2011, http://news.abidjan.net/h/417020.html [In French]
8. "Situation improving in Ivory Coast," UPI, 18 November 2011, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2011/11/18/Situation-improving-in-Ivory-Coast/UPI-43681321640763/
9. "Cote d'Ivoire / UNOCI chief meets President Compaore," APO, 17 November 2011, http://www.starafrica.com/en/news/detail-news/view/cote-divoire-unoci-chief-meets-presid-203121.html
10. "We Need to Know the Truth, Even if it's not Pretty," by Sarah Collier, Think Africa Press, 16 November 2011, http://thinkafricapress.com/ivory-coast/need-know-truth
11. "Ivory Coast urged to hold fair elections," UPI, 9 November 2011, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2011/11/09/Ivory-Coast-urged-to-hold-fair-elections/UPI-46681320850165/?spt=hs&or=tn
12. "Alassane Ouattara: Ivory Coast now on recovery road," The Observer, 6 November 2011, http://observer.ug/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15803&Itemid=66
13. "Fierce clashes kill two in western Ivory Coast: UN," AFP, 3 November 2011, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j9LquHjOTXHL54bCI_74PQLtAW_A?docId=CNG.0dcb7d3d860d0cf5c7d1a0b3866f2f13.461
14. UN: 4 more dead in western Ivory Coast clashes," AP, 3 November 2011, http://www.boston.com/news/world/africa/articles/2011/11/03/un_4_more_dead_in_western_ivory_coast_clashes/
15. "Reconciliation and prosecution: what do Ivorians think?" by Selay Marius Kouassi, Radio Netherlands, 27 October 2011, http://www.rnw.nl/international-justice/article/reconciliation-and-prosecution-what-do-ivorians-think
16. "The ICC in Cote d'Ivoire: Alassane Ouattara's big test looms," Daily Maverick, 18 October 2011, http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2011-10-18-the-icc-in-cte-divoire-alassane-ouattaras-big-test-looms
17. "ICC probes I Coast post-poll violence," News 24, 17 October 2011, http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/ICC-probes-I-Coast-post-poll-violence-20111016
18. "ICC calls for dialogue in Ivory Coast," UPI, 17 October 2011, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2011/10/17/ICC-calls-for-dialogue-in-Ivory-Coast/UPI-66491318867813/
19. "Cote d'Ivoire / UNOCI Deputy Chief meets ICC Prosecutor," Star Africa, 17 October 2011, http://www.starafrica.com/en/news/detail-news/view/cote-divoire-unoci-deputy-chief-meets-196525.html
20. "Int'l court to investigate 3-6 Ivory Coast figures," by Laura Burke, AP, 16 October 2011, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h6hBggPXKzoVwoRQZg3-lAIWeXJQ?docId=85dd262e68c84246be7d2628ad08f62e
21. "ICC Prosecutor Arrives in Ivory Coast for War Crimes Probe," Voice of America, 15 October 2011, http://www.voanews.com/english/news/ICC-Prosecutor-Arrives-in-Ivory-Coast-for-War-Crimes-Probe-131913128.html
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: ICC P.O. box 19519 2500 CM the Hague The Netherlands