Twenty-six extrajudicial executions in Côte d'Ivoire, including that of a 17-month-old baby, and 100 other human rights abuses were perpetrated in the past month, as the country recovers from its former president’s abortive effort to stay in power, a senior United Nations official said today.
But the security situation in Abidjan, the main city, has improved, Guillaume Ngefa, the acting human rights chief in the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), told a news conference in the city that was a focal point of months of deadly violence when Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after losing last year’s UN-certified election to Alassane Ouattara, who was finally installed as president in April.
“Violations committed include proven cases of summary, extrajudicial executions, illegal arrests and detention, the freeing of people in return for cash, extortion, and criminal rackets against numerous drivers,” he said of the abuses perpetrated in the south of the country, which was divided into a Government-held south and a rebel-controlled north following a civil war in 2002. The election won by Mr. Ouattara reunited the country again.
Mr. Ngefa also voiced concern at violent clashes between the army and young villagers in several areas, denouncing “acts of intimidation, extortion and numerous obstacles to free movement committed by army elements.”
Citing cruel and inhuman treatment and violation of property rights, he said similar abuses had also been perpetrated against ethnic groups, such as the Bété, Bakwé, Attié and Ebrié.
In the north of the country Mr. Ngefa cited routine rights abuses such as criminal rackets and arbitrary arrests, deploring the fact that State functions such as tax collection, mining and customs still remain in the hands of army elements which justify “this kind of ransom” by claiming it is their sole source of revenue and they do not intend to end it.
As to the former regime members who are now in detention in the north, whom he visited last week, he said that Mr. Gbagbo, his wife and nearly 40 other officials did not complain of any torture but there was room for improvement in the hygienic and physical conditions of their various detentions centres where the walls leak during the rains.
In another development, as part of its effort to disarm the warring factions outside the regular army, UNOCI yesterday collected the weapons and munitions of nearly 90 members of the Ouermi Amadé group some 540 kilometres northwest of Abidjan.
The mission, which with some 10,000 uniformed personnel on the ground has been supporting stabilization and reunification efforts in Côte d’Ivoire over the past seven years, launched its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration operation last month to make the country peaceful and secure, urging those with arms in the various communities to hand them in.