A year after the international community pushed for polls in the Ivory Coast and helped remove the former president, Laurent Gbagbo, serious abuses of human rights by the current administration have been documented in a new report by the rights watchdog Amnesty International.
“Ivory Coast's army has committed "widespread human rights violations" against supporters of ousted former president Laurent Gbagbo, Amnesty said in its report published Tuesday.
"This new national army, along with an armed militia of traditional hunters, are carrying out extra-judicial executions, deliberate and arbitrary killings, politically motivated arrests and torture". "They are acting with almost total impunity under the pretence of ensuring security and fighting against perpetrators of armed attacks," the report said.
The Amnesty team heard first-hand evidence about how detainees were being held for months, with no access to their families, doctors or lawyers. Amnesty delegates visited several places of detention. They heard accounts of torture with electricity or molten plastic to extract confessions about alleged participation in armed attacks.
Gbagbo himself has been detained by the International Criminal Court in The Hague since the end of 2011, accused of crimes against humanity. Amnesty called for an international commission of inquiry into a July 2012 raid on a displaced persons' camp near the town of Duekoue, which targeted people from the Guere ethnic group, considered to be pro-Gbagbo. Fourteen people were reported killed, but Amnesty said "many more bodies are believed to have been dumped in wells".
Meanwhile, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan begins a four-day visit Wednesday to the Ivory Coast to discuss with other leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) the current crises in Mali and Guinea-Bissau. At the end of the summit, Pres. Jonathan will remain for a 3-day state visit at the invitation of Pres. Alassane Ouattara. w/pix of Ivory Coast special forces