Côte d'Ivoire: Justice for victims of human rights violations “long overdue” – Zeid
GENEVA, Switzerland, March 11, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- In the wake of the guilty verdicts against numerous supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo charged with offences against the state and its institutions, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Wednesday urged the Government of Côte d'Ivoire to now focus on justice for victims of serious human rights violations and abuses that occurred prior to and during the 2011 conflict in the country.
“Victims of gross human rights violations, some of which may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, have yet to see justice almost four years since the end of the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire,” the High Commissioner said. “Perpetrators of killings, rapes and other serious breaches of international law – no matter what their background or affiliations – must be promptly prosecuted.”
“It is unacceptable that not a single individual has so far been convicted in a civilian court in Côte d'Ivoire on conflict-related human rights violations. And it is deplorable that some of the alleged perpetrators continue to hold official positions of responsibility,” Zeid said. “While I understand that the case which has just ended was of great significance to the Government, I urge it to now turn its attention to these extremely important human rights cases, without further delay.”
Zeid pointed out that Tuesday's verdict in the case against 83 alleged supporters and relatives of former president Laurent Gbagbo laid bare structural deficiencies in the judicial system in Côte d'Ivoire that need to be urgently addressed.
“While important measures have already been taken to bring the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code in conformity with Côte d'Ivoire's obligations under the Rome Statute, it is essential that the authorities take prompt measures to ensure the adoption of the draft law on victim and witness protection in judicial proceedings, to shorten pre-trial detention periods and to develop an effective appeals process,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “All of these will be important when the human rights cases start to come before the courts.”
“For the peace gains to be secured and sustainable, Côte d'Ivoire must prioritize equitable justice, truth and reconciliation, particularly ahead of the presidential elections later this year,” he added.