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Justice

Amnesty International condemns Ivory Coast killings

A report released this week by Amnesty International says soldiers in Ivory Coast and allied militias are killing and torturing supporters of ousted president Laurent Gbagbo.

A new report by Amnesty International contains shocking details of acts of violence and torture perpetrated against supporters of ousted president Laurent Gbagbo. The publication of the report comes as Gbagbo faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. Amnesty says the continued abuses against Gbagbo supporters have harmed prospects for reconciliation nearly two years after post-election violence brought the country to the brink of civil war.

Unrest broke out when incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede victory to Alassane Ouattara who was internationally recognized as the winner of the 2010 elections. Troops loyal to Ouattara overran the south of the country. Backed by French forces they captured Gbagbo and declared he was no longer in power. In November 2011 he was transferred to the ICC to stand trial.

For details of Amnesty's findings, DW spoke to one of the authors of the report, West Africa researcher Gaetan Mootoo.

DW: Mr Mootoo, what can you tell us about the scale of the abuses by government forces and the circumstances surrounding them?

Gaetan Mootoo: What we learned through constant monitoring of the country was that there was a pattern of arbitrary arrest, and that the people who were arrested were detained in illegal places of detention, for example in a military camp. Most of the people arrested were tortured. Some had molten plastic on their backs and others were plunged into water with their hands handcuffed at the back. It was mainly people accused of being supporters of Laurent Gbagbo and who belong to a particular ethnic group.

Laurent Gbagbo has been indicted by the International Criminal Court and could stand trial on charges against humanity. Has anyone from President Ouatarra's camp been brought to justice over the post-election violence?

This is our concern because what we have noticed is that people who are close to Alassane Ouatarra and the Force Nouvel of (former prime minister) Guillaume Soro had committed human rights violations in the past, including the executions of soldiers in Bouake in September 2002, as well as the killings in the western part of Cote d'Ivoire at the end of March 2011 when hundreds of people were executed, others were tortured and some disappeared. We also have the recent example of the case of the Naibly camp where internally displaced people were attacked and killed in July last year. You can see from these examples that supporters of President Ouatarra who are responsible for human rights violations are not being being worried by justice. This is a major concern.

Has there been any reaction to your report?

Prior to publication, we sent the document a month ago to the authorities of Cote d'Ivoire. It's a 70-page document and the authorities reacted with a letter of two pages, saying they acknowledge the concerns we raise. They don't contest any information we mention, for example regarding illegal places of detention, the use of traditional hunters, such as the Dozo militia groups, and also the use of torture and ill treatment. They don't contest this information, however they told us they had already implemented some of the recommendations we made.

Gaetan Mootoo is Amnesty International's West Africa researcher

Interview: Mark Caldwell

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