International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Forced Extraditions of Ivorians in Liberia

The BBC recently reported that the UN refugee agency had expressed concerns over the “forced extradition” of 14 Ivorian refugees who were suspected of being mercenaries and perpetrators of post-election violence in 2011. Over 52,000 Ivorians fled to Liberia after violence engulfed the country. The Liberian government claimed no knowledge of the forced extradition and promised to begin an immediate investigation.

This particular incident highlights some of the difficulties with holding potential perpetrators accountable for their actions, especially when these perpetrators are living in refugee communities. The extradition of these refugees to the Ivory Coast is in clear violation of the principle of non-refoulement. This principle is meant to guarantee the protection of asylum seekers and refugees, preventing forced return to the area from which they fled.

However, former combatants often become part of refugee communities out of a legitimate fear that they might be harmed if they returned. In the case of the Ivorian refugees, their forced extradition could have put them in harms way, placing them in the custody of those that may wish them harm.

Considering large Rwandan refugee population in the DRC, many of whom fled after the RPF forces took control after the genocide, this is not a unique scenario. Here we may see cases where local and national courts do not have the capacity to prosecute perpetrators. It would be interesting to see what kind of considerations the international community has in place for such situations.

 

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