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UN-commissioned panel urges Côte d'Ivoire to strengthen fight against impunity

UN-commissioned panel urges Côte d'Ivoire to strengthen fight against impunity

An international panel commissioned by the United Nations has urged the Government of Côte d'Ivoire to strengthen its fight against impunity and to take the necessary steps to bring to justice those responsible for serious human rights violations.

In a just released report, the International Commission of Inquiry - an independent body established by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in February following discussions with Côte d'Ivoire authorities - found that members of the Gendarmerie bore responsibility with regards to the October 2000 massacre in Yopougon.

In another finding, the Commission said members of the military were responsible for the deaths of civilians during the demonstrations that followed General Robert Guei's declaration of victory in last October's presidential elections.

The Commission also concluded that members of the security forces, in particular the gendarmes, used excessive force and were responsible for serious human rights violations during demonstrations that took place before the legislative elections of December 2000.

The Commission recommended improving the human rights training of the military and police, and highlighted the Government's responsibility to protect persons who gave testimony to the international commission of inquiry. It also stressed the importance of national reconciliation in order to bring to an end the tensions in the country.

The three-member Commission of Inquiry, which did its work during a two-month stay in Côte d'Ivoire, later forwarded its report to Abidjan authorities, who said they would pay attention to its recommendations.