ICC finally in Cote d’Ivoire: NPWJ welcomes ICC Prosecutor’s request to open an investigation; concerned request only covers crimes committed after 28 November 2010

Brussels-Rome, 23 June 2011

 
Today the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has requested authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed on the territory of Cote d’Ivoire since 28 November 2010. Cote d’Ivoire accepted the exercise of jurisdiction by the ICC through the submission of declarations under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute in 2003 and again in 2011.
 
Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice:
 
“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Transnational Nonviolent Radical Party (TNRP) welcome the Prosecutor’s request to open an investigation into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Cote d’Ivoire. However, the request is limited to an investigation of events that followed 28 November 2010. We consider an ICC investigation into the extreme violence that erupted after the last disputed elections as a fundamental step to ensure justice is finally done in Cote d’Ivoire. However, we are very concerned that the Prosecutor has restricted the focus of his request to events that happened since November 2010.
 
“ The situation in Cote d’Ivoire has been under preliminary examination by the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) since 1 October 2003, when then President Gbagbo agreed the Court may exercise jurisdiction over events since 19 September 2002. Cote d’Ivoire’s own history demonstrates that granting impunity for serious crimes only encourages those crimes to continue, whether by the same perpetrators or others. The people of Côte d’Ivoire deserve a chance for lasting peace, which in turn requires impartial and effective justice.
 
The ICC together with the Ivorian Government should make clear their commitment to stand on the side of victims in Cote d’Ivoire for the crimes committed in the last decade, not just those committed in the last 6 months. To break Côte d'Ivoire's cycle of violence and impunity, immediate and strong measures should urgently be taken to ensure that all perpetrators of human rights abuses and crimes under international law against the civilian population are brought to justice, irrespective of their rank or political allegiance.
 
“We call on the ICC Prosecutor and President Alassane Ouattara to investigate fully the entirety of crimes committed by all forces in Côte d'Ivoire since 2002. Limiting the investigation to recent crimes when it is possible to investigate crimes since 2002 only opens the Prosecutor to suggestions of partiality in the selection of cases and individuals for prosecution at a later stage. We further urge President Ouattara to demonstrate his full commitment to human rights, as indicated by accepting the Court’s jurisdiction, by ensuring Gbagbo supporters currently detained in Cote d’Ivoire are either charged promptly or released.
 
“NPWJ and the TNRP also urge the Court to start outreach in Cote d’Ivoire as soon as possible. With the Prosecutor’s request to open an investigation for a limited period of time compared to the past violence, there is now even a greater need to engage the people of Cote d’Ivoire in two‑way dialogue to promote understanding of the Court and manage expectations, with a particular focus on women and children.”
 
For further information, please contact Alison Smith, phone +32 2 548 3912, email asmith@npwj.org or Nicola Giovannini, phone +32-2-548-3915, email ngiovannini@npwj.org