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Laurent Gbagbo Transferred to the ICC: Latest Statements and Documents
30 Nov 2011
On 30 November 2011, Laurent Gbagbo was transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the issuance of an ICC arrest warrant under seal. The suspect is expected to make his initial appearance shortly.
Please find below latest media advisories and documents issued by the International Criminal Court (I) and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (II) relating to this development.
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 STATEMENTS AND DOCUMENTS
1. "New suspect in the ICC's custody: Laurent Gbagbo arrived at the detention centre," press release, International Criminal Court, ICC-CPI-20111130-PR747, 30 November 2011, http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/exeres/4814FA54-AF2D-4EA3-8A89-9E809318D1D8.htm
"Laurent Koudou Gbagbo, national of Côte d'Ivoire, 66 years, arrived today at the International Criminal Court (ICC) detention centre in the Netherlands. He was surrendered to the ICC on 29 November 2011 by the national authorities of Côte d´Ivoire following a warrant of arrest issued under seal by the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber III on 23 November 2011. The suspect's initial appearance hearing before the Pre-Trial Chamber III, composed of Judges Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi (presiding judge), Elizabeth Odio Benito and Adrian Fulford, will be held promptly.
Mr Gbagbo allegedly bears individual criminal responsibility, as indirect co-perpetrator, for four counts of crimes against humanity, namely murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhuman acts, allegedly committed in the territory of Côte d'Ivoire between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011.
The date and time of the initial appearance hearing will be announced on the ICC Twitter account followed by a press release.
Pre-Trial Chamber III found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that in the aftermath of the presidential elections in Côte d'Ivoire pro-Gbagbo forces attacked the civilian population in Abidjan and in the west of the country, from 28 November 2010 onwards, targeting civilians who they believed were supporters of the opponent candidate. Allegedly, the attacks were committed pursuant to an organisational policy and were also widespread and systematic as they were committed over an extended time period, over large geographic areas, and following a similar general pattern. The attacks were allegedly often directed at specific ethnic or religious communities and left a high number of reported victims.
The Chamber also found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a plan existed between Mr Gbagbo and his inner circle and that they were aware that implementing it would lead to the commission of the alleged crimes. Mr Gbagbo, together with others, allegedly exercised joint control over the crimes, and made a coordinated and essential contribution to the realisation of the plan.
Mr Gbagbo allegedly engaged his responsibility as "indirect co-perpetrator" (article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute) for the above-mentioned charges of crimes against humanity. However, the Chamber highlighted that this issue may well need to be revisited in due course with the parties and participants.
For more information on this case, please click here: http://www.icc-cpi.int/menus/icc/situations and cases/situations/icc0211/related cases/icc02110111/background information/ginfo?lan=en-GB
Background information on the situation in Côte d'Ivoire
The warrant of arrest for Laurent Koudou Gbagbo is the first warrant issued in the situation in Côte d'Ivoire.
Côte d'Ivoire is not party to the Rome Statute, but it 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.
On 3 October 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III granted the Prosecutor's request for authorisation to open investigations on his own initiative into the situation 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. The judges authorised the Prosecutor to open an investigation with regard to crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed by pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces, including murder, rape, enforced disappearance, imprisonment, pillage, torture and intentionally directing attacks against civilians.
Pre-Trial Chamber III 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 Prosecutor complied with this request on 3 November 2011. The Chamber is now considering whether or not to grant authorisation to the Prosecutor to investigate crimes committed between 2002 and 2010.
The International Criminal Court is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression."
2. "Ivorian victims will see justice for massive crimes: Mr. Gbagbo is the first to be brought to account, there is more to come," Statement, Office of the Prosecutor, ICC, 30 November 2011, http://www.icc-cpi.int/menus/icc/structure of the court/office of the prosecutor/reports and statements/statement/âivorian victims will see justice for massive crimes_ mr_ gbagbo is first to be brought to account_?lan=en-GB
"It is exactly a year since the presidential election that led to one of the worst episodes of violence Cote d'Ivoire has ever known, with ordinary Ivorians suffering immensely, and crimes allegedly committed by both parties.
We have evidence that the violence did not happen by chance: widespread and systematic attacks against civilians perceived as supporting the other candidate were the result of a deliberate policy. In December last year, we put Mr. Gbagbo and the others on notice. Today, we are following up.
Mr. Gbagbo is brought to account for his individual responsibility in the attacks against civilians committed by forces acting on his behalf. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty and will be given full rights and the opportunity to defend himself.
Let me make it clear: investigations continue. We will collect evidence impartially and independently, and bring further cases before the Judges, irrespective of political affiliation.
Leaders must understand that violence is no longer an option to retain or gain power.
The time of impunity for these crimes is over."
3. Questions and Answers Document, International Criminal Court, 30 November 2011, http://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/PIDS/publications/GbagboQandAEng.pdf
"Who is Laurent Koudou Gbagbo?
Laurent Koudou Gbagbo was born on 31 May 1945 in the Mama village of the Ouragahio sous-préfecture, Gagno a department in Côte d'Ivoire. He is an Ivorian national and former President of Côte d'Ivoire.
What crimes is Mr Gbagbo alleged to have committed?
Pre-Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, in the aftermath of the presidential elections in Côte d'Ivoire, pro-Gbagbo forces attacked the civilian population in Abidjan and in the West of the country, from 28 November 2010 onwards, targeting civilians who they believed were supporters of the opponent candidate Alassane Outtara. Allegedly, the attacks were widespread and systematic, were committed over an extended time period and over large geographic areas, and followed a similar general pattern. The attacks were allegedly often directed at specific ethnic or religious communities and left a high number of reported victims.
The Chamber also found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a plan existed between Mr Gbagbo and his inner circle, and that they were aware that implementing it would lead to the commission of the alleged crimes. They allegedly exercised joint control over the crimes, and made a coordinated and essential contribution to the realisation of the plan.
Mr Gbagbo allegedly bears individual criminal responsibility, as indirect co-perpetrator, for four counts of crimes against humanity, namely murder, rape and other sexual violence, persecution and other inhuman acts, allegedly committed in the context of post-electoral violence in the territory of Côte d'Ivoire between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011.
Why did the ICC issue a warrant of arrest against Mr Gbagbo?
Based on the Prosecution's request and on the evidence submitted to Pre-Trial Chamber III, the Judges found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Gbagbo is responsible for four counts of crimes against humanity.
The Chamber also found that his arrest is necessary to ensure his appearance before the Court, to ensure that he does not use his political or economic resources to obstruct and endanger the investigation, and to prevent the commission of further crimes.
What will happen after Mr Gbagbo arrives at the ICC detention centre?
Within a reasonable time after the suspect's surrender and arrival at the ICC detention centre, Pre-Trial Chamber III will hold an initial appearance hearing to verify the identity of the suspect and to ensure that he was clearly informed of the charges brought against him and of his rights under the Rome Statute. At the end of this first appearance, the Pre-Trial Chamber will set the date of the next step in the pre-trial proceedings: the hearing on the confirmation of Charges
What is a hearing on the confirmation of charges?
A confirmation of charges hearing is not a trial or a mini-trial. It is a public, pre-trial hearing during which the ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber will decide whether or not to confirm all or any of the charges brought against the suspect by the Prosecutor and, if confirmed, to commit the case to trial before a Trial Chamber.
The Prosecution is required to support each of the charges with sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that the suspect committed the crimes with which he is charged. In addition to the Prosecution and the Defence, the legal representatives of the victims may attend the hearing and may make an oral presentation.
What are the rights of the suspect before the ICC?
All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Like all suspects before the ICC, Mr Gbagbo has the right to a public, fair and impartial hearing of his case. To this end, a series of guarantees are set out in the Court's legal documents, including the following rights, to mention but a few:
* to be defended by the counsel (lawyer) of his choice, to present evidence and witnesses of his own and to use a language which he fully understands and speaks;
* to be informed in detail of the charges against him in a language which he fully understands and speaks;
* to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate freely and in confidence with counsel;
* to be tried without undue delay;
* not to be compelled to testify or to confess guilt, and to remain silent, without such silence being a consideration in the determination of guilt or innocence;
* to have the Prosecutor disclose to the Defence evidence in his possession or control which he believes shows or tends to show the innocence of the defendant, or to mitigate the guilt of the defendant, or which may affect the credibility of the Prosecution's evidence.
What are the conditions of the detention of Mr Gbagbo at the ICC detention centre?
The ICC detention centre operates in conformity with the highest international human rights standards for the treatment of detainees, such as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules. At the ICC detention centre, the daily schedule affords the detainees the opportunity to take walks in the courtyard, exercise, receive medical care, take part in manual activities and have access to the facilities at their disposal for the preparation of their defence. ICC detainees also have access to computers, a TV, books and magazines. Each 10m2 cell is designed to hold one person only. A standard cell contains a bed, desk, shelving, cupboard, toilet, hand basin, TV and an intercom system to contact the guards when the cell is locked.
Persons convicted of crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC do not serve their sentence at the ICC detention centre in The Hague, as the facility is not designed for long-term imprisonment. Convicted persons are therefore transferred to a prison outside the Netherlands, in a State designated by the Court from a list of States which have indicated their willingness to allow convicted persons to serve their sentence there.
Who are the Judges sitting in this case?
Pre-Trial Chamber I is composed of Judges Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi (presiding), Adrian Fulford and Elizabeth Odio Benito.
The ICC Judges are persons of high moral character, impartiality and integrity who possess the qualifications required in their respective States for appointment to the highest judicial offices. All have extensive experience relevant to the Court's judicial activity.
The Judges are elected by the Assembly of States Parties on the basis of their established competence in criminal law and procedure and in relevant areas of international law such as international humanitarian law and the law of human rights.
How and why can victims participate in the proceedings?
The Rome Statute, founding treaty of the Court, is innovative in several respects. One of the most significant points is that it grants victims rights never previously granted to victims before an international criminal court. Victims can become involved in proceedings before the ICC by sending information to the Prosecutor to ask him to open an investigation, by willingly testifying before the Court, or by participating in the proceedings through their legal representatives (i.e., their lawyers).
This voluntary participation enables victims to express an opinion independently of the parties and offers them the opportunity to voice their own concerns and interests. If the Court considers it appropriate, victims may present their point of view directly to the judges at various stages in the proceedings. Such participation is generally through a legal representative (that is, a lawyer) who presents their views and concerns to the Court, since criminal proceedings are quite complex.
Should victims with to participate, they are required to fill out an application for participation form. Applications are free of charge. Victims may obtain a copy of the application forms from the Court's website or from the Victims Participation and Reparations Section in The Hague. The forms must be returned to the Victims Participation and Reparations Section in The Hague by fax, e-mail
or post, using the information provided below.
Victims who wish to be assisted in filling out the form and sending it to the Court may contact that same section. The Victims Participation and Reparations Section at The Hague may be contacted at:
International Criminal Court
Victims Participation and Reparations Section
P.O. Box 19519
2500 CM, The Hague
Fax: +31 (0) 70 515 9100
Email: [email protected]
Questions regarding the Situation in Côte d'Ivoire
Does the ICC have jurisdiction over the situation in Côte d'Ivoire even though this State has not ratified the Rome Statute?
Yes. Côte d'Ivoire is not party to the Rome Statute, but it had accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC on 18 April 2003, by a declaration made in accordance with article 12-3 of the Rome Statute; 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.
Why is the ICC intervening in the situation in Côte d'Ivoire?
The ICC is a court of last resort. It can intervene only under the principle of complementarity. It can investigate and, where warranted, prosecute and try individuals only if the State concerned does not, cannot or is unwilling genuinely to do so. This might occur where proceedings are unduly delayed or are intended to shield individuals from their criminal responsibility.
Following the declaration of Côte d'Ivoire accepting the jurisdiction of the Court, the ICC Prosecutor conducted a preliminary examination of the situation. He concluded that the criteria to open an investigation are met and submitted, on 23 June 2011, a
request for authorisation to open investigations on his own initiative (called investigation proprio motu) into the situation in Côte d'Ivoire.
On 3 October 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III granted the Prosecutor's request and authorised him to open an investigation with respect to alleged crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed in Côte d'Ivoire since 28 November 2010, as well as with regard to crimes that may be committed in the future in the context of the same situation in this country.
Pre-Trial Chamber III also requested the Prosecutor to revert to the Chamber with any additional information that is available to him on potentially relevant crimes committed between 2002 and 2010. The Prosecutor complied with this request on 3 November 2011.
The Chamber is now considering whether or not to grant authorisation to the Prosecutor to investigate crimes committed between 2002 and 2010.
Is the ICC independent of the United Nations and the Security Council?
Yes. The ICC is an independent body whose mission is to try individuals for crimes within its jurisdiction, without the need for a special mandate from the United Nations. On 4 October 2004, the ICC and the United Nations signed an agreement governing their institutional relationship.
What are the crimes under investigation by the ICC Prosecutor?
Based on the request submitted by the Prosecutor and the supporting material presented to the Chamber, the Judges authorised the Prosecutor to open an investigation in the situation of Côte d'Ivoire with regard to crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed by pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces, including murder, rape, enforced disappearance, imprisonment, pillage, torture and intentionally directed directing attacks against civilians.
These criminal acts were allegedly committed in several areas, including Abidjan and the west of Côte d'Ivoire, in the context of the violence that started in the aftermath of the 2010 presidential elections in Côte d'Ivoire.
Will the ICC prosecute other suspects in Côte d'Ivoire?
The Prosecutor's statement makes clear that his Office's investigation continues, and, based solely on the evidence collected, he intends bring further cases before the Judges.
The policy adopted by the Prosecutor is to focus on those bearing the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes. Most importantly, the ICC does not replace national criminal justice systems; rather, it complements them. States retain the primary responsibility for trying the perpetrators of the most serious of crimes."
II. COALITION MEDIA STATEMENTS
1. "Laurent Gbagbo Transferred to the International Criminal Court: ICC Judges Issue Arrest Warrant Under Seal for Crimes Against Humanity Allegedly Committed in Côte d'Ivoire," Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Media Advisory, 30 November 2011, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/CICC_MA_CDI_LaurentGbagboTransfer_301111.pdf
"WHAT: On 30 November 2011, Laurent Gbagbo was transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the issuance of an ICC arrest warrant under seal. The suspect is expected to make his initial appearance shortly. The ICC is the world's first and only permanent international court to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
WHO: Laurent Koudou Gbagbo is the former president of Côte d'Ivoire. He is suspected of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Côte d'Ivoire between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011 following the disputed presidential election of 28 November 2010. Alleged acts include murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhuman acts.
WHY: On 23 November 2011, judges of ICC Pre-Trial Chamber III issued an arrest warrant under seal, following a request made by the ICC prosecutor. On 3 October 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III had granted authorization to the prosecutor to open an investigation into the 2010 post-election violence in Côte d'Ivoire as judges considered there was a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation and that the matter appeared to fall within the Court's jurisdiction.
NEXT STEPS: The suspect is expected to shortly appear for the first time before the judges of ICC Pre-Trial Chamber III. During this hearing, the chamber will verify the identity of the suspect and ensure that he was clearly informed of the charges brought against him and of his rights under the Rome Statute-the Court's founding treaty- including the right to apply for interim release pending trial.
In addition, the Court may also open further cases against other individuals allegedly involved in the 2010 post-election violence.
COMMENTS: "International justice can help states emerge from crisis and fight against impunity. Gbagbo's transfer to the ICC is a welcome step to bring justice to victims of grave crimes in our country. But it is critical that the Court investigate all serious crimes committed by all parties since the outbreak of armed conflict in 2002," said Ali Ouattara, president of the Côte d'Ivoire Coalition for the ICC (CI-CPI). "Only through fair and impartial justice addressing all sides of the conflict can the ICC avoid criticisms of bias and thus truly help bring justice and reconciliation to Ivorians," he added. "The Court should be prepared to move quickly in issuing subsequent warrants lest the time lag create presumptions of partiality."
"While from the point of view of the International Criminal Court, this is just step one in its investigations in Cote d'Ivoire, the decision to go after the defeated President alone at this point is likely to be explosive on the ground," said Francis Dako, Africa Coordinator at the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. "The ICC must be prepared to explain its decision as well as to reiterate that it will continue to investigate both sides and issue arrest warrants accordingly. Otherwise, the sense that the Court is practicing victor's justice may be overwhelming on the ground," he added. "The ICC must also communicate with victims and affected communities on both sides of the Ivorian conflict on their rights as victims in the Rome Statute process."
BACKGROUND: The situation in Côte d'Ivoire is the International Criminal Court's seventh investigation. The Rome Statute allows non-states parties to accept the jurisdiction of the Court on an ad hoc basis (article 12(3)). The Côte d'Ivoire investigation marks the first time that the Court has opened an investigation on this basis. The only other such declaration submitted was made by the Palestinian National Authority in January 2009. 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 regarding Côte d'Ivoire 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.
Judges granted the authorization to open an investigation in October 2011 but 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. On 4 November 2011, the ICC prosecutor provided judges with further information regarding potentially relevant crimes committed between 2002 and 2010 in Côte d'Ivoire. Based on this information, judges may decide to extend the timeframe of the prosecutor's investigation to events predating the 2010 electoral violence. Should this be the case, the prosecutor would also be able to request authorization to open cases into crimes committed between 2002 and 2010 in Côte d'Ivoire.
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. ..."
2. "Côte d'Ivoire: Gbagbo's ICC Transfer Advances Justice - Promptly Investigate Ouattara Camp's Crimes as Well," Human Rights Watch, Press release, 29 November 2011, http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/11/29/c-te-d-ivoire-gbagbo-s-icc-transfer-advances-justice
"The transfer of former President Laurent Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for his alleged role in international crimes during Côte d'Ivoire's devastating post-election violence is a major step toward ensuring justice, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called on the ICC prosecutor to move swiftly on investigations for grave crimes committed by forces allied with the current president, Alassane Ouattara.
Gbagbo's refusal to step down when the Independent Electoral Commission and international observers proclaimed Ouattara the winner of the November 28, 2010 presidential run-off set off six months of violence. At least 3,000 people were killed and more than 150 women raped during the conflict period, often in targeted acts by forces on both sides along political, ethnic, and religious lines.
"This is a big day for the victims of Côte d'Ivoire's horrific post-election violence," said Elise Keppler, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch. "That Laurent Gbagbo now has to answer to the court sends a strong message to Ivorian political and military leaders that no one should be above the law."
According to news reports, Ivorian judicial authorities informed Gbagbo of the ICC arrest warrant on November 29, 2011. Gbagbo is the first former head of state taken into custody by the ICC. President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, have likewise been subject to ICC arrest warrants. Al-Bashir has not come into ICC custody, nor did Gaddafi.
"The ICC is playing its part to show that even those at the highest levels of power cannot escape justice when implicated in grave crimes," Keppler said.
Efforts by both the ICC and the Ivorian government to ensure accountability for the post-election crimes are important in returning the rule of law to Côte d'Ivoire, Human Rights Watch said. However, investigations with a view to prosecutions are needed without delay for individuals implicated in grave crimes who fought in the forces allied with Ouattara.
Since Gbagbo's arrest by pro-Ouattara forces on April 11, Ivorian civilian and military prosecutors have charged more than 120 people linked to the Gbagbo camp with post-election crimes. No one from the pro-Ouattara forces has been charged with post-election crimes. This creates a perception of victor's justice and risks stoking further communal tensions, Human Rights Watch said.
"While the Gbagbo camp fueled the violence through its refusal to relinquish power and its incitement, forces on both sides have been repeatedly implicated in grave crimes," Keppler said. "The many victims of abuse meted out by forces loyal to President Ouattara also deserve to see justice done."
Human Rights Watch conducted six field missions to Côte d'Ivoire during the crisis, documenting the evolution of the post-election violence from its outbreak in November 2010 through the conclusion of fighting in May 2011. A report released by Human Rights Watch on October 5 detailed serious international crimes committed by both sides and implicated 13 military and civilian leaders as among those responsible. Gbagbo was specifically named for his role as commander-in-chief of armed forces that committed war crimes and likely crimes against humanity. Despite clear evidence of grave crimes committed by his military and militia supporters, Gbagbo neither denounced nor took steps to prevent or investigate the crimes.
In May, 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 authorized the prosecutor to open an investigation on October 3, citing evidence of war crimes and likely crimes against humanity by both sides' armed forces and allied militia groups. Gbagbo's arrest and transfer on November 29 is the first for the ICC's investigation in Côte d'Ivoire. Credible information suggests that several Gbagbo allies implicated in serious crimes may likewise be subject to imminent ICC arrest warrants.
The ICC prosecutor should also pursue cases involving crimes committed during the 2002-2003 armed conflict and its aftermath, Human Rights Watch said. The 2010 violence capped a decade ofhuman rights violations and impunity in Côte d'Ivoire. The failure to address the worst earlier abuses risks undermining important efforts to enshrine the rule of law, Human Rights Watch said.
Ouattara has promised repeatedly that anyone implicated in crimes committed during the post-election period will be brought to justice. But in terms of charges brought at the national level, the reality remains in stark contrast.
"Especially given the lack of domestic accountability efforts for crimes committed by forces allied with President Ouattara, the ICC prosecutor should move promptly to investigate their grave crimes and encourage the Ivorian government to proceed with domestic prosecutions against all responsible serious crimes, whatever side they were on," Keppler said. "Justice for crimes by both sides is key in breaking the cycles of violence that have plagued Côte d'Ivoire during the past decade."
Beginning in December 2010, after Gbagbo refused to accept the election results, elite security force units closely linked to Gbagbo abducted neighborhood political leaders from Ouattara's coalition, dragging them away from restaurants or out of their homes into waiting vehicles. Family members later found the victims' bodies in morgues, riddled with bullets.
Pro-Gbagbo militia manning informal checkpoints throughout Abidjan murdered scores of real or perceived Ouattara supporters, beating them to death with bricks, executing them by gunshot at point-blank range, or burning them alive. Women active in mobilizing voters - or who merely wore pro-Ouattara t-shirts - were targeted and often gang raped by armed forces and militia groups under Gbagbo's control.
As international pressure increased on Gbagbo to step down, the violence became more appalling, Human Rights Watch said. The Gbagbo government-controlled state television station, Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI), incited violence against pro-Ouattara groups and exhorted followers to set up roadblocks and "denounce foreigners." This marked, in many ways, the culmination of a decade of Gbagbo's manipulation of ethnicity and citizenship, in which northern Ivorians were treated as second-class citizens and West African immigrants as unwelcome interlopers.
Hundreds of people from both groups were killed in Abidjan and the far west between February and April, sometimes solely on the basis of their name or dress. Mosques and Muslim religious leaders were likewise targeted.
Abuses by pro-Ouattara forces did not reach a comparable scale until they began their military offensive in March 2011 to take over the country. In village after village in the far west, particularly between Toulepleu and Guiglo, members of the Republican Forces allied with Ouattara killed civilians from pro-Gbagbo ethnic groups, including elderly people who were unable to flee; raped women; and burned villages to the ground. In Duékoué, the Republican Forces and allied militias massacred several hundred people, pulling unarmed men they alleged to be pro-Gbagbo militia out of their homes and executing them.
Later, during the military campaign to take over and consolidate control of Abidjan, the Republican Forces again executed scores of men from ethnic groups aligned to Gbagbo - at times in detention sites - and tortured others.
By the conflict's end, both sides' armed forces had committed war crimes and likely crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said. An international commission of inquiry presented a report to the Human Rights Council in mid-June that likewise found war crimes and likely crimes against humanity to have been committed by both pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Operations in Côte d'Ivoire, the International Federation of Human Rights, and Amnesty International have all released similar findings."
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