Lack of Accountability in Ivory Coast could lead to continued violence
December 15, 2012
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Violent attacks persist in Ivory Coast along ethnic/political lines between former President Laurent Gbagbo’s supporters and those of current President Alassane Ouattara. A visiting senior UN human rights official noted the urgency of ending impunity for Ouattara’s supporters in maintaining peace in the region.
The two most relevant incidents were a result of political/ethnic tensions between the group that supported the ousted President Laurent Gbagbo and those who support the current president Alassane Ouattara. In April 2011, Ouattara supporters raided the town of Dueokoue as part of their campaign to gain territorial control of the country, leaving approximately a thousand victims, mostly members of the ethnic group that supported Gbagbo. “After taking over the town, pro-Ouattara forces committed horrific abuses, killing several hundred people.” (Human Rights Watch)
More on Duekoue massacre: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12951990
As a result of the post-election violence, refugee camps were set up, one of these being Nahibly. This camp, which housed mostly Gbagbo supporters, was burnt to the ground in July, 2012, allegedly in response to an attack by some of the dwellers on Ouattara supporters the day before in a town nearby. Five people were killed and most camp residents had to flee to the surrounding areas. Read more here.
“[The] gruesome attack reflects the country’s persistent political tensions between supporters of former ousted President Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept defeat at the polls in 2010, and the loyalists of democratically elected President Alassane Ouattara.” (Aljazeera)
These “persistent political tensions” may be due in great part to the lack of accountability Ouattara supporters’ crimes enjoyed. According to Human Rights Watch, “no one has been credibly investigated, much less arrested, for these crimes.” Because of the state’s inability to bring perpetrators on Ouattara’s side to justice, tensions are never alleviated, and cycles of violence continue endlessly. This is a really relevant example of our discussion on the relationship between peace and justice, in this case, how accountability is essential for the prevention of future violence.