Human Rights Watch Report on Cote D’Ivoire

Cote d’Ivoire has made progress in restoring state authority, but problems with parallel command and control structures within the armed forces remain significant. On election day and in the days following, groups of opposition supporters clashed with government supporters in towns including Abidjan and Toumodi.

President Ouattara won re-election in March under conditions generally considered free and fair. However, concerns about impunity and victor’s justice persist.

Discrimination against LGBT+ people

Amid a climate of political and intercommunal tensions, violence against LGBT+ people remains widespread. Gay men and lesbians are frequently harassed or beaten by militiamen, while women experience sexual and domestic violence at a high rate.

The government should investigate and prosecute those responsible for unlawful killings during the election and post-election violence. Authorities should also ensure that security forces do not use excessive force against civilians.

State religious exemption laws encourage discrimination against LGBT+ people by legitimizing and signaling official acceptance of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. These laws violate the core principle of nondiscrimination laws and should be repealed.

Land rights

Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced during the postelection violence and many returned to find their land had been illegally sold or taken over in hostile occupations. While the government made progress in restoring state authority, many aspects of justice and security sector reform remained incomplete and unimplemented.

The ICC continued its investigations, though frustration grew among Ivorian civil society groups at the court’s significant delay in issuing an arrest warrant for someone from the Ouattara side of the conflict. Some of Cote d’Ivoire’s international partners, including France, largely stayed silent on this issue, failing to learn from the country’s own history of impunity.

Ivorian citizens enjoy the freedom of movement, assembly, and speech, but their rights to organize labor are limited. There are frequent strikes by workers, including teachers and university lecturers.

Freedom of expression

Although freedom of expression is generally protected, the government has censored social media posts that call for violence and incite ethnic hatred. Individuals may be prosecuted for insulting the president or other senior officials, and the national press council can suspend newspapers found to defame the country.

Civil society groups operate and report on human rights issues. Government officials meet with these groups and are sometimes cooperative, but they can be defensive on sensitive topics.

The government is implementing democratic reforms and has improved electoral conditions, but some root causes of the armed conflict remain. In March, members of the National Assembly were elected in credible and generally peaceful polls. However, former President Laurent Gbagbo’s party, which had boycotted the election, remained in power.

Freedom of assembly

Cote d’Ivoire has made progress in rebuilding its economy and political institutions following the end of nearly a decade of conflict. However, ongoing insecurity and failure to deliver justice for past abuses undermine the country’s recovery.

Local and international journalists are generally able to operate freely, but there have been incidents of intimidation and harassment. In June, members of the opposition Rassemblement des Houphouetistes pour la Democratie and its youth wing disrupted a post-meeting press conference by throwing rocks and forcing journalists to leave.

Journalists have also been subjected to physical violence and harassment, including threats and harassment by state security agents. In July, police confined journalist Noel Kouadio Konan for publishing an allegation that a bank had assisted thieves who stole money from former President Bedie.

Freedom of religion

There were signs of progress in addressing impunity and victor’s justice issues that remained after the 2010-11 postelectoral conflict. President Ouattara created a single agency to oversee disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of tens of thousands of youth who fought on opposing sides in the conflict.

Insecurity remained high in Abidjan, with frequent attacks by armed groups. There was little progress in disarming armed youth.

The national police, the National Gendarmerie, and the Armed Forces of Côte d’Ivoire report to the ministry of internal security. The government lacked full control over these agencies. Civilian police and prosecutors rarely exercised effective control over security forces in urban areas, where they sometimes collaborated with local militias. The government prohibited forced or compulsory labor but it was not effectively enforced.

Recommended Posts

Leave A Comment