Cote d’Ivoire on Thursday started exhuming corpses in an area of Abidjan where many are believed to have been killed in violence that followed the 2010 and 2011 elections.
“We have identified 57 mass graves in Abidjan, 36 of which are in Yopougon,” said Coulibaly Gnenema, Minister of Justice, at the ceremony launching the exhumation in Yopougon, a neighbourhood of the country’s commercial capital.
“The authorities have exhumed four bodies from the first mass grave near a mosque,” he said, adding that “the operation is expected to continue over the next few months as part of a government investigation”.
Youpougon is one of the city’s most densely populated areas and largely remained loyal to ousted President Laurent Gbagbo during the post-election conflict.
Battles between armed forces backing President Alassane Ouattara and Mr. Gbagbo supporters took place there.
Some 3,000 people died in the chaos that followed Mr. Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat to Ouattara. The ousted president is in custody at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
A decision is due on whether there is enough evidence to try him on four counts of crimes against humanity.
Rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), said that president Ouattara has failed to deliver on his promise to bring to justice all those responsible for the violence.
“President Ouattara’s expressed support for impartial justice rings urging more concrete action to bring justice for victims of crimes committed by pro-government forces,” said Param-Preet Singh, a senior analyst with HRW.
The organization has called on the ICC to “investigate crimes committed by those on the Ouattara side, and based on evidence, to seek arrest warrants.”