Côte d’Ivoire: ICC investigation must not exclude serious crimes

A proposed International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into Côte d’Ivoire must be expanded to cover serious human rights violations committed since 2002, Amnesty International said today.ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested an investigation today into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed after a disputed presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire in November 2010. The ICC judges have yet to open the investigation. “It’s a positive step for the ICC to focus on serious human rights abuses in Côte d’Ivoire, but limiting it to the recent post-election violence would deny justice to hundreds of women who suffered rape and other sexual violence since 2002,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director.For nearly a decade, Amnesty International has extensively documented systematic violations by security forces and armed groups in Côte d’Ivoire. In particular, widespread rape and other sexual violence against women and girls amount to crimes against humanity. Endemic impunity has meant that the perpetrators of these crimes on both sides of the conflict have not been brought to account.  “If the Court proceeds with an investigation into only the most recent crimes, the vast majority of victims will find neither justice, nor truth nor reparations. Their rights must not be denied by arbitrary limits,” said Erwin van der Borght.The ICC has limited its previous investigations – on Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, Kenya and Libya – to only a handful of accused individuals. Amnesty International urged the Court to ensure its investigation on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire delivers justice to all victims of grave human rights abuses. Côte d’Ivoire is not a party to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, but the Ivorian government has accepted the Court’s jurisdiction to investigate and try crimes under international law committed in the country since 19 September 2002.  President Alassane Ouattara confirmed this commitment in a letter to the ICC last December.