Ivory Coast announces human rights investigation

AP News
Posted: Jul 21, 2011 1:45 PM
Ivory Coast announces human rights investigation

Ivory Coast's president is setting up an independent commission to investigate human rights abuses committed during Ivory Coast's postelection crisis earlier this year.

Government spokesman Bruno Kone on Wednesday read a presidential decree creating the commission, after a special Cabinet meeting. The decree gives the commission six months to present its findings.

The commission will attempt to explain how and why widespread human rights abuses were planned and carried out during the six months of violence sparked by the longtime leader's refusal to cede power.

Kone said the commission will also respond to accusations by international rights organizations that President Alassane Ouattara's forces carried out a campaign of revenge killings after arresting former president Laurent Gbagbo in April.

The wording of the decree implied that the commission would rebuff the accusations and seek to exonerate Ouattara's forces.

While Ouattara has promised to bring all those responsible for abuses to justice, regardless of their political affiliation, the government has repeatedly contested Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports that claim that his commanders are responsible for human rights abuses.

Dozens of members of the former government, including Gbagbo himself and his wife, remain under arrest in various locations around the country's north. Several have been charged with embezzlement and violent crimes, but the former president has yet to be formally charged with a crime.

Not a single member of Ouattara's armed forces, nor his government, has been arrested or charged.

While the commission will not have any judicial power, it has been ordered to cooperate with domestic and international investigators.