Supporting National Prosecutions in Cote d'Ivoire


On June 12, 2013, ICTJ will co-host high-level talks on strengthening Cote d’Ivoire’s judicial capacity to prosecute serious crimes proscribed by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

International justice practitioners and development actors will join their Ivorian counterparts in Abidjan for the one-day, closed-door discussions on criminal justice in Cote d’Ivoire, a country that continues to grapple with a complex legacy of political violence.

The Abidjan meeting is part of the ongoing Greentree discussions on complementarity, and aims to address the specific need for improved collaboration between the country’s national transitional justice mechanisms and international efforts designed to combat impunity for serious crimes.

“Cote d’Ivoire is facing the challenge of establishing credibility for its transitional justice processes and ensuring accountability and safety for all citizens,” said David Tolbert, president of ICTJ.

“By demonstrating its commitment to prosecuting perpetrators regardless of political affiliation, Cote d’Ivoire would take important steps towards establishing civic trust in the country’s institutions.”

ICTJ is hosting the meeting in cooperation with the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and with the assistance of the Ministry of Justice and Public Freedoms.

Accountability in Cote d’Ivoire

Cote d’Ivoire has embarked on a process of addressing the legacy of internal strife that culminated in the post-election violence of 2010. Criminal accountability for recent political violence continues to form a central pillar in the country’s process of engaging in transitional justice measures.

After President Laurent Gbagbo lost the 2010 elections to challenger Alassane Ouattara, his refusal to step down sparked a wave of intense political violence in which whole constituencies were targeted based solely upon political identification. Ultimately, forces loyal to Ouattara succeeded in taking control of Abidjan, and Gbagbo was ousted from office.

Approximately 3,000 people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced.

Upon assuming office, President Ouattara invited the ICC to investigate the post-election crisis. At the national level, he established the Commission Nationale d’Enquete (National Commission of Inquiry, or CNE) as well as the Cellule Spéciale d'Enquête (Special Investigative Unit, or CSE), under the Ministry of Justice.

The latter was tasked with the investigation and prosecution with serious crimes punishable under national law—including economic crimes, serious crimes, and crimes against the state.

However, progress on criminal investigations into serious crimes has been slow and indictments are still to be issued by national institutions. Furthermore, the lack of proceedings against Ouattara supporters and alleged perpetrators of post electoral violence has generated strong criticism from civil society and relevant stakeholders.

Photo: Ivory Coast: Undertakers carry a body wrapped in a cloth as they exhume him for the investigation of Prosecutor Simplice Koffi on January 25, 2012 in the neighborhood of Yopougon in Abidjan (Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images)