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IMPARTIAL JUSTICE FOR ALL, THE KEY TO RECONCILIATION IN CÔTE D’IVOIRE – UN EXPERT HUMAN RIGHTS EXPERT

27 March 2014

The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Cote d’Ivoire, Doudou Diène, expressed concern over unresolved issues in the national reconciliation process of the West African country, ahead of presidential elections in 2015.  The key, he stressed, lies in applying “impartial justice for all” in a country still recovering from months of unrest after a disputed poll in 2010.

“The 2015 presidential election has to be the ultimate test and proof that Cote d’Ivoire has recovered from this crisis,” Mr. Diène said during the presentation of his latest report* to the United Nations Human Rights Council.  “However, there are key problems that have not been resolved, and which have to be resolved to make the election democratically credible and consensual.”

“The most important point, because all the problems are very closely interrelated, is that the reconciliation process is linked to the key issue of justice and, more precisely, the issue of impartiality and equity of justice, and to the problem of fully participating democratic process,” he said.

The Independent Expert warned that - for the time being - only people accused of crime and coming from the side of the former president Laurent Gbagbo are being tried or imprisoned.  “The problem of equity of justice is that all that have committed violent crimes whatever their political, ethnic or tribal or religious background should be tried,” he underscored.

He particularly called for the expedition of the trial of the country’s former first lady, President Gbagbo’s wife.  The former president is currently facing trial in the Hague’s International Criminal Court.

The Independent Expert charged by the United Nations Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advice on the human rights situation in Cote d’Ivoire, also called for the reform of the national electoral body ahead of the 2015 elections.

“For the election to be credible, the independent electoral commission has to be reformed,” Mr. Diène said.  “Everybody agrees that it has to be reformed because it does not reflect the reality of the political landscape of Cote d’Ivoire.”

“Cote d’Ivoire is on the way of recovering from ten years of violent crisis, but it is just a process because the crisis has been very deep,” the human rights expert stated.  “It will take time for Cote d’Ivoire to totally recover but I feel the grounds have been rebuilt and the basis is there for recovery.”

(*) Check the Independent Expert’s report to the United Nations Human Rights Council (A/HRC/25/73): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session25/Pages/ListReports.aspx

Mr. Doudou Diène (Senegal) took up his functions as UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d'Ivoire in 2011.  In that capacity, he acts independently from any Government or organization.  Mr. Diène was previously the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in 2002-2008.

The mandate of the Independent Expert was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2011 for a period of one year to assist the Government and relevant actors in the follow-up of the recommendations of the International Commission of Inquiry on Côte d’Ivoire and the Human Rights Council, including the ones addressed to the international community.  The mandate was renewed by the Human Rights Council in June 2013 for one year.

Watch the Independent Expert on UN Human Rights YouTube channel: http://youtu.be/Aun0oKrTzFk

UN Human Rights, country page – Cote d’Ivoire: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CIIndex.aspx

For additional information and media requests, please contact Johel Dominique (+41 22 929 9398 / jdominique@ohchr.org).

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For use of the information media; not an official record

HR14/080E