Côte d'Ivoire : ICC trial offers hope of justice for victims of conflict

The International Criminal Court (ICC) must ensure that justice is done for all victims of crimes under international law committed in Côte d’Ivoire, Amnesty International said today as the trial against former President Laurent Gbagbo and his youth minister Charles Blé Goudé kicks off in The Hague.

Following the country’s 2010-2011 post-election crisis during which more than 1,000 people were killed the two are being tried by the ICC on four charges of crimes against humanity including murder and rape, other inhumane acts, and persecution.

“This trial marks a milestone in the search for justice for the victims of crimes committed during the post-election crisis. It is the first time a former head of state has been put on trial at the ICC, which sends a strong message that no-one is above the law,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International West Africa Researcher.

This trial marks a milestone in the search for justice for the victims of crimes committed during the post-election crisis.
Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International West Africa researcher

“All those suspected of criminal responsibility for these horrific crimes, including current President Alassane Ouattara’s supporters, must be brought to account through fair trials, either in country or by the ICC. This is the only way to ensure justice for the hundreds of victims.”

Background

Laurent Gbagbo, former President of Côte d'Ivoire, was surrendered to the ICC on 30 November 2011 and he first appeared before the pre-trial chamber on 5 December 2011. The Ivorian authorities surrendered Charles Blé Goudé to the ICC on 22 March 2014 following an arrest warrant issued on 21 December 2011.

The ICC has also issued an arrest warrant against Simone Gbagbo, the former First Lady, but Côte d’Ivoire refuses to surrender her to the Court. Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Ivorian authorities and the ICC Prosecutor to investigate all crimes under international law committed by all parties during Côte d’Ivoire’s post-election crisis.

In a hugely worrying step, ICC investigations into alleged crimes committed by those loyal to President Ouattarra have been delayed due to resource constraints placed on the Office of the Prosecutor by states party to the Court. Until now, the prosecutions have been largely focused on those who had supported former President Gbagbo.