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Côte d'Ivoire: No War, but No Security

13 June 2011

Côte d'Ivoire: No War, but No Security

AfricaFocus Bulletin

Jun 10, 2011 (110610)

(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

Killings, torture, and inhumane treatment by Ouattara's armed

forces continued while a Human Rights Watch researcher was in

Abidjan, with clear ethnic targeting during widespread acts of

reprisal and intimidation." - Human Rights Watch

For a version of this Bulletin in html format, more suitable for

printing, go to,

and click on "print this page."

In his inaugural speech on May 21, Côte d'Ivoire President

Alassane Outtara called for Ivorians to come together and unite.

The text and tone of his speech was conciliatory, observers

agreed, and earlier in May he called for the International

Criminal Court to investigate human rights abuses on all sides,

including those by his own troops.

But if his words are to have credibility, observers also agree,

his administration must take effective action to halt

ethnically-based reprisals that are ongoing. Recent reports by

Amnesty International and by Human Rights Watch provide ample

evidence not only of killings and other abuses against civilians

by both sides during the months of post-election conflict, but

also that such action are still continuing. Those international

forces that supported the legitimacy of Outtara's election and

aided his victory in the post-election conflict have the

obligation to demand that his government take responsibility for

creating a climate in which it may be possible for Ivorians to

respond to his call to come together.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a summary article and

excerpts from the latest Human Rights Watch report, published on

June 3.

Other relevant recent reports and analyses include:

Amnesty International, May 25,2011

"Both Sides Responsible for War Crimes and Crimes Against


International Freedom of Expression Exchange Clearing House,

1 June 2011

"Reprisals Against Pro-Gbagbo Journalists Continue; Opposition

Press Re-Emerges"

Véronique Tadjo, "Of Saviours, God and Domination", May 20, 2011

Colette Braeckmann, "Ouattara: le discours et la réalité," May

22, 2011 / direct URL:

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Côte d'Ivoire, see


Updates for "Aids Research "Game Changer", May 16, 2011

See my Foreign Policy in Focus Commentary for June 7, 2011 at

Healthgap announcement of victory in getting pledge from world

leaders for 16 million on AIDS treatment by 2015

and news coverage of the UN High-Level Meeting on AIDS

concluding today at and

[For more frequent updates from AfricaFocus on articles of

interest, visit the AfricaFocus Facebook page at]


Many thanks to those subscribers who have recently sent in a

voluntary subscription payment to support AfricaFocus Bulletin.

If you haven't yet sent in such a payment and are able to do so,

please help AfricaFocus reach more people with reliable

information on Africa. Send in a check or pay on-line with

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++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

Côte d'Ivoire: Hiding Out in Abidjan

3 June 2011

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the

United Nations] /

Dakar — People from ethnic groups seen as pro-Laurent Gbagbo are

hiding out, using aliases in public and fearing for their lives,

amid attacks by government forces in the main city Abidjan,

residents told IRIN.

"It is total and constant insecurity for people from ethnic

groups seen as pro-Gbagbo," said a young man calling himself


People from allegedly targeted ethnic groups have started using

nicknames, "so when we address one another in public we cannot

be identified", explained another youth known as Pascal Soro.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a 2 June report says forces of

President Alassane Ouattara's government have killed scores of

real or perceived backers of Gbagbo since the former president

was arrested in April.

"The actions President Ouattara takes or fails to take in the

coming weeks will define how seriously he takes this cycle of

violence," Corinne Dufka, HRW senior West Africa researcher,

told IRIN.

Residents of the Yopougon District, from where the government

army Forces Républicaines de Côte d'Ivoire (FRCI) recently

chased Gbagbo militia, told IRIN people from many ethnic groups

- particularly Bété and Guéré - are not safe.

"We thought when FRCI came and forced the militia out, there

would be security - it has been exactly the opposite," Toupé


Attacks by FRCI are not linked to whether or not one was a

Gbagbo militant, residents told IRIN. "It's enough that you have

a name from one of these ethnic groups of the west," Toupé, from

Yopougon, told IRIN from a neighbourhood where he has been

hiding since mid-April. "You're lucky if all you get is a broken

arm or leg."

He lived in the largely pro-Gbagbo Sicogi area of Yopougon. "For

them [FRCI], if you're a youth and you're from there, you're

with the militia - that's it, you're through."

Toupé said he has no news of his wife and one-year-old child,

from whom he was separated when they all fled violence.

Reconciliation impossible?

Both Toupé and Pascal Soro said people back in their

neighbourhoods, including friends from the Malinké ethnic group,

tell them it is not safe to come back. "For now we've got to

stay where no one knows us," Pascal Soro told IRIN.

"We are truly imprisoned in our own country," said Toupé. "We

cannot even speak out. State TV gives the impression all is OK

and on track towards reconciliation. Nothing could be further

from the truth, but there is no place for opposition on the

state airwaves."

Yopougon residents say reconciliation in the country is

impossible in the current environment. "If the new authorities

want peace and reconciliation they must put an end to

indiscriminate arrests and killings carried out each night on

the pretext that the targets are opposition militia," student

Valentin Konet told IRIN.

Dufka said FRCI members suspected of abuses must be held

accountable. "Initially the hope was that these were isolated

acts by undisciplined elements and resulting from the loose and

informal way FRCI was thrown together. The fact that high-level

officers, who long held prominent posts in the [former anti-

Gbagbo] Forces Nouvelles, are credibly implicated, raises

considerable concern."

HRW is calling on the government to put on administrative leave

any FRCI members suspected of violations pending investigation.

FRCI and Ouattara communications officers said a new government

- announced on 1 June - was just getting installed and officials

were not yet ready to comment on the report.


Côte d’Ivoire: Gbagbo Supporters Tortured, Killed in Abidjan

Rampant Reprisals by Pro-Ouattara Forces Mar New Presidency

Human Rights Watch

June 2, 2011

[Excerpts only. For full report see /

direct URL:]

(Dakar) - Armed forces loyal to President Alassane Ouattara have

killed at least 149 real or perceived supporters of the former

President Laurent Gbagbo since taking control of the commercial

capital in mid-April, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. Pro-

Gbagbo militiamen killed at least 220 men in the days

immediately preceding and following Gbagbo's arrest on April 11,

when the nearly four-month conflict drew to a close.

Between May 13 and 25, Human Rights Watch interviewed 132

victims and witnesses to violence by both sides during the

battle for Abidjan and in the weeks after Gbagbo's arrest.

Killings, torture, and inhumane treatment by Ouattara's armed

forces continued while a Human Rights Watch researcher was in

Abidjan, with clear ethnic targeting during widespread acts of

reprisal and intimidation.

"The hope of a new era following President Ouattara's

inauguration will fade fast unless these horrible abuses against

pro-Gbagbo groups stop immediately," said Corinne Dufka, senior

West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "The president has

repeatedly promised credible, impartial investigations and

prosecutions; now is the time to keep those promises."

Ouattara's Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (Forces

Républicaines de la Côte d'Ivoire, FRCI) killed at least 95

unarmed people in Abidjan during operations in late April and

May, when they sealed off and searched areas formerly controlled

by pro-Gbagbo militia, Human Rights Watch found. The majority of

documented abuses occurred in the longtime pro-Gbagbo stronghold

of Yopougon, the focus of the final battle in Abidjan. Most

killings were point-blank executions of youth from ethnic groups

generally aligned with Gbagbo, in what appeared to be collective

punishment for these groups' participation in Gbagbo's militias.

One man described how Republican Forces soldiers killed his 21-

year-old brother: "Two of them grabbed his legs, another two

held his arms behind him, and a fifth one held his head," he

said. "Then a guy pulled out a knife and slit my brother's

throat. He was screaming. I saw his legs shaking after they'd

slit his throat, the blood streaming down. As they were doing

it, they said that they had to eliminate all of the [Young]

Patriots that had caused all the problems in the country."

Another woman who witnessed the May 8 killing of 18 youths found

hiding in Yopougon was brutally raped by a Republican Forces

soldier after being forced to load their vehicles with pillaged

goods. On May 23, an elderly man in the same neighborhood saw

Republican Forces execute his son, whom they accused of being a

member of pro-Gbagbo militia.

Human Rights Watch also documented 54 extrajudicial executions

in formal and informal detention sites, including the 16th and

37th Yopougon police stations and the GESCO oil and gas building

now used as a Republican Forces base. On May 15, Human Rights

Watch observed a body burning less than 30 meters from the 16th

precinct police station. Several witnesses told Human Rights

Watch the following day that it was the body of a captured

militiaman who had been executed inside the police station


A Republican Forces soldier described the execution of 29

detainees in early May outside of the GESCO building. The

soldier said Chérif Ousmane, the close ally of Prime Minister

Guillaume Soro and longtime zone commander in the northern

capital of Bouaké for Soro's Forces Nouvelles rebel group that

now comprise the majority of the Republican Forces, gave the

execution order. Two other witnesses interviewed by Human Rights

Watch said they saw Ousmane in a vehicle that disposed of the

tortured and executed body of an infamous militia leader in the

Yopougon sub-neighborhood of Koweit around May 5. Ousmane

oversees the Republican Forces' operations in Yopougon.

In addition to killings, Human Rights Watch interviewed young

men who had been detained by the Republican Forces and then

released, and documented the arbitrary detention and inhumane

treatment of scores more young men - often arrested for no other

apparent reason than their age and ethnic group. Nearly every

former detainee described being struck repeatedly with guns,

belts, rope, and fists to extract information on where weapons

were hidden or to punish them for alleged participation in the

Young Patriots, a pro-Gbagbo militia group. Several described

torture, including forcibly removing teeth from one victim and

placing a burning hot knife on another victim, then cutting him.

Human Rights Watch called on the Ouattara government to

immediately ensure the humane treatment of anyone detained and

to provide uninhibited access to detention sites for

international monitors and members of the human rights division

of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (Opération des

Nations Unies en Côte d'Ivoire, ONUCI).

Witnesses consistently identified the killers or abusers in

detention as Republican Forces who descended on Abidjan from

their northern bases, dressed in military uniforms and boots and

often arriving in vehicles marked FRCI. These forces are

overseen by Soro and Ouattara. Numerous witnesses and two

soldiers who had participated in the killings said mid- and

high-level commanders had been at or near the place where some

killings took place.

Human Rights Watch called on the Ouattara government to place on

immediate administrative leave, pending investigation,

commanders against whom there is credible evidence of

implication, either directly or by command responsibility, in

killings, torture, or other severe abuse. At a minimum, this

should include Chérif Ousmane and Ousmane Coulibaly for

potential abuses in Yopougon and Captain Eddy Médy for his role

in overseeing the western offensive that left hundreds of

civilians dead.

Retreating pro-Gbagbo militia also left a bloody trail during

the final battle for Abidjan, Human Rights Watch said. Human

Rights Watch documented more than 220 killings perpetrated by

pro-Gbagbo militia groups in the days and hours before being

forced to abandon Abidjan. The day after Republican Forces

seized Gbagbo, his militia went on a rampage in several areas of

Yopougon, killing more than 80 people from northern Côte

d'Ivoire and neighboring West African countries because of their

presumed support for Ouattara.

A 65-year-old man there described how militiamen murdered five

of his sons after breaking into his compound on April 12, the

day after Gbagbo's arrest. The bodies were buried in a small

mass grave, among 14 such sites identified by Human Rights Watch

in Yopougon alone. Human Rights Watch documented seven cases of

sexual violence by militia, particularly in Yopougon, often

accompanied by the execution of the woman's husband.

No fewer than 3,000 civilians have been killed during the post-

election crisis as a result of grave violations of international

law by armed forces on both sides, Human Rights Watch said.

On May 19, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

(ICC) declared his intention to open an investigation into

crimes committed in Côte d'Ivoire. An ICC investigation could

make an important contribution to ensuring accountability, but

Human Rights Watch also urged Ouattara's administration to hold

fair domestic trials to ensure justice for victims and promote

respect for the rule of law in the conflict-ravaged country.

Human Rights Watch presented its findings to Interior Minister

Hamed Bakayoko, who promised to convene an emergency meeting

with Soro and the principal Republican Forces commanders. He

also said that the Ouattara government would not shield military

and security forces from prosecutions for crimes they commit.

The minister's commitments were a positive sign and should be

fulfilled swiftly, Human Rights Watch said.

"If President Ouattara is serious about bringing this decade of

abuse to an end, he should immediately suspend and investigate

the commanders responsible for this horrific abuse," Dufka said.

"Those implicated in grave crimes on both sides should be

brought to justice."


[extensive additional details of specific incidents in full

report, available at]

Killings by Pro-Gbagbo Militia in Retreat From Abidjan

Human Rights Watch documented more than 220 killings by pro-

Gbagbo militias and mercenaries against real and perceived

Ouattara supporters as the Republican Forces swept through

Abidjan between March 31 and the end of April, including in the

weeks after Gbagbo's arrest as fighting continued in Yopougon.

The killings documented by Human Rights Watch took place in

Yopougon, Koumassi, and Port Bouët. Credible sources, including

local human rights groups and neighborhood leaders of West

African nations, had information about similar killings in other

neighborhoods, like Treichville, Williamsville, and Plateau,

suggesting that the total number killed by pro-Gbagbo militias

during this period is probably higher. Bodies were often burned,

sometimes en masse, by pro-Gbagbo militia or by residents who

could no longer tolerate the smell - leaving no trace except for

small bone fragments still visible to a Human Rights Watch



The militia, as documented by Human Rights Watch throughout the

post-election violence, erected scores of roadblocks at which

they frequently demanded identity cards from passers-by. Those

from northern Côte d'Ivoire or neighboring countries like

Burkina Faso or Mali were systematically killed, often in

gruesome ways.


To President Alassane Ouattara:

* Demonstrate that promises of impartial and credible

prosecutions of grave crimes are meaningful by ensuring

immediate investigations into killings, extrajudicial

executions, and torture committed by the Republican Forces in


* Hold those responsible accountable, including commanders who

oversaw the crimes, regardless of their military rank.

* Put commanders implicated in serious abuse on administrative

leave, pending investigation.

* Make publicly clear that anyone detained - including former

Gbagbo militia implicated in grave crimes - is to be treated

humanely in accordance with Ivorian and international law.

* When cordon and search operations are conducted by the

Republican Forces, ensure that police, gendarmes, or UN and

French peacekeepers are included.

* Seek the assistance of key international donors in assessing

the capacity of the Ivorian justice system to prosecute grave

crimes and addressing the weaknesses identified.

* Provide complete access to all detention facilities to

international monitors and members of the human rights division

of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire, including

access that allows detainees to describe the conditions of their

treatment without the presence or interference of the Republican


* Cooperate fully with the ICC, including arresting suspects, if

the court prosecutor opens an investigation of crimes committed

in Côte d'Ivoire.

To the UN Security Council:

* To bring light to atrocities committed in the past decade in

Côte d'Ivoire, publish the 2004 Commission of Inquiry report

when the 2011 Commission of Inquiry report is presented before

the Human Rights Council in June. Failure to do so continues to

send the signal that certain people deeply implicated in war

crimes and other grave abuses, are being shielded from justice.

To the United Nations Operations in Côte d'Ivoire:

* Increase significantly patrols, including joint patrols with

the Republican Forces, in Yopougon, particularly in vulnerable

pro-Gbagbo neighborhoods like Koweit, Yaosseh, Kouté, and Abobo-


* Visit detention centers daily, particularly in Yopougon, and

demand access to prisoners without interference by the

Republican Forces