Côte D’ivoire 2022
Modifications to two laws adopted by the senate threatened to curtail the right to freedom of expression. Political parties and civil society organizations released a report recommending a process to provide reparation for victims of electoral violence. Survivors of sexual and gender-based violence continued to face obstacles in their search for justice. There were several incidents of badly constructed buildings collapsing, causing deaths. The government took measures to ensure the rights to health and food. Activists and local people continued to criticize deforestation, and the authorities took measures to fight environmental degradation.
The year was marked by the rising cost of living; an influx of refugees fleeing armed conflict in Burkina Faso; and the continuing “political dialogue” between the ruling party, opposition parties and civil society organizations. The objective of the political dialogue was to agree on necessary measures to achieve “political appeasement” and “strengthen democratic culture” to end decades of political crisis.
A diplomatic crisis erupted with Mali after the latter arrested 49 Ivorian soldiers, labelled as mercenaries, in July. In August, activist Pulchérie Edith Gbalet was arrested after returning from Mali and publishing a video which criticized the Ivorian government for its handling of the crisis.
Freedom of expression and assembly
In December, the senate adopted two bills modifying the laws on the press and on audiovisual communication in order to combat the publication of false information; and ensure that individuals active online, specifically bloggers, activists and influencers, are subject to regulations by the relevant authorities. During the year, activists had warned that, if enacted, the laws could be used to repress the right to freedom of expression online and target critics of the authorities.
In April, student protesters in Bouaké were injured when the police used tear gas to disperse them. More than twenty students were arrested and released the following month. They had been calling for better conditions to allow them to study.
In December, 46 academics were arrested in Abidjan while marching to deliver a memorandum to the prime minister demanding employment in the civil service. After being detained for a week, one was acquitted while 45 were each given a four-month suspended sentence for disturbing the peace.
Right to truth, justice and reparation
The March report of the fifth round of the political dialogue recommended measures to ensure peaceful elections and a mechanism to provide reparations for victims of violence during the 2020 elections. According to official numbers, 85 people were killed and hundreds injured during demonstrations and clashes between the ruling party and opposition supporters in 2020.
Sexual and gender-based violence
In March, the International Federation for Human Rights published a report highlighting the obstacles faced by survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. They included pressure to settle their cases out of court, and lack of social service resources and legal and judicial assistance.
Right to housing
A lack of sufficient government oversight led to people living in unsafe or inadequate housing. Badly erected buildings, which lacked authorization for construction, collapsed, causing deaths. In Abidjan, there were two such incidents in 30 days. In February, a building under construction collapsed on houses in Treichville, causing at least five deaths and more than 20 injuries. In March, a residential building collapsed in Cocody, resulting in seven deaths and the hospitalization of 13 people. On 9 March, the government announced measures to address this phenomenon, including by imposing administrative sanctions against officials who allow constructions to go ahead without prior authorization; and establishing a joint control brigade to oversee the implementation of the regulations which, according to the government, includes representatives of city halls, district authorities and the Department of Urban Sanitation and Drainage.
Right to health
The Covid-19 vaccination campaign continued, with vaccinations more than doubling from December 2021 to March 2022. In March, vaccination was extended to teenagers.
In September, a decree adopted by the Council of Ministers made membership of the universal healthcare coverage mandatory for everyone. It is intended to cover 70% of health costs and make healthcare more affordable.
Right to food
In March, the government announced a list of measures to address the rising cost of living, including increased monitoring to ensure that prices of certain food products were controlled. In August, the president announced new measures to protect purchasing power, including enhanced job benefits for public officials.
In July, the National Council Against the High Cost of Living, created to combat inflation, sanctioned about 2,000 merchants who had not respected price controls on protected products.
The Coffee-Cocoa Council, in charge of regularizing, stabilizing and developing the industries of cocoa and coffee production, announced the launch of a system starting in April to trace cocoa production from the plantation to the ports of export, in order to combat child labour and deforestation.
In May, the state minister of agriculture and rural development, and the minister of the environment and sustainable development signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Genesis, a French agency specializing in environmental impact assessments. Under the MOU, the agency would evaluate the impact of soil restoration projects financed by the governmental Initiative d’Abidjan to fight deforestation and foster restoration of forests. In the same month, the prime minister announced that the government had replanted 38 million trees in less than three years.
In parallel, villagers from Bébou demanded that the government help them fight illegal cocoa plantations, which are destroying forests, including the protected Bossématié Forest Reserve. In June, activists started a petition calling on the government to renounce a project which would destroy hectares of land in a wildlife park, to make way for a hotel in Bingerville.