Reforms needed in Ivory Coast, says UN Expert

Diene says several key questions are still pending

Diene says several key questions are still pending

United Nations Independent Expert Doudou Diène has called on the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to adopt urgent reforms before presidential elections scheduled for October 2015.

Mr. Diène’s appeal came at the end of his latest visit to the country, from 11-23 February, during which he organised an “International Conference on the situation of victims of the Ivorian crisis” and gathered information on the human rights situation in the country.

“As the 2015 electoral year approaches, several key questions linked to justice and the organisation of the elections are still pending,” warned Mr Diène, who is charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire.

“The authorities must accelerate the resolution of substantive issues, including the reform of the Independent Electoral Commission, the updating of the electoral list, the unbiased reintegration of ex-combatants, and the organisation of trials related to the post-election crisis, as well as reparation for victims of the crisis,” the Independent Expert noted.

Mr. Diène expressed concern at the slow pace of judicial proceedings in following up the recommendations of the National Commission of Inquiry, which reported grave human rights violations committed by both sides during the crisis. He also stressed the need for the proceedings to be impartial.

“Provisional releases granted to detainees should not lead to a general de facto amnesty that could be dangerous for the future of democracy in Côte d’Ivoire,” he said. “The authorities must find a balance between the fairness of the judiciary, the fight against impunity and the national reconciliation process.”

Mr. Diène welcomed the decision by the President to extend the mandate of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission and urged all members of Ivorian society to support the upcoming phases of investigations and public hearings. “The State of Côte d’Ivoire must make available to the Commission the necessary means to achieve its mandate,” he stressed.

The human rights expert welcomed the significant steps achieved by improving the security situation, establishing State institutions and re-launching the political dialogue between the Government and the opposition. “I encourage the different political parties to refrain from divisive comments that could undermine the success of the ongoing political talks,” he said.

The Independent Expert acknowledged the authorities’ efforts to re-establish the rule of law and reinforce the democratic process that included extending the mandates of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Special Investigation Cell, provisionally releasing detainees linked to the electoral crisis, and urging exiles to return.

During his thirteen-day mission, Mr. Diène met government officials, including Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan, members of the judiciary, top security officials, the President of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the president of the National Human Rights Commission. He also met civil society representatives and members of the diplomatic corps.

The Independent Expert met also with several political parties, including the Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI), the Rassemblement des Démocrates pour la République (RDR) and the LIDER.

Mr. Diène visited detainees at the Abidjan prison (MAMA), and also met former Ivorian First Lady Simone Gbagbo under house arrest since in 2011 for crimes against humanity. He met with several victims organisations which expressed frustration at the slow progress of the reparation process.

The Independent Expert will present a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2014.

African Press Organization