ICC: NPWJ and NRPTT welcome the confirmation of charges against former Côte d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo

14 Jun, 2014 | Press Releases

Brussels – Rome – New York, 14 June 2014

On 12 June 2014, the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed by majority the charges against Laurent Gbagbo, former President of Côte d’Ivoire, for crimes against humanity (murder, rape, other inhumane acts or – in the alternative – attempted murder, and persecution) allegedly committed in the context of the post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire between December 2010 and April 2011. Following the confirmation of charges hearing that was conducted from 19 to 28 February 2013, the Chamber, by majority, had decided to adjourn the hearing and requested the Prosecutor to consider providing it with further evidence or conducting additional investigations. In accordance with an established calendar, the Chamber received additional submissions of evidence and observations by the Prosecution, the Defence and the victims’ representative. Laurent Gbagbo was surrendered to the ICC on 30 November 2011 and he first appeared before the Pre-Trial Chamber on 5 December 2011. In February 2012, the ICC judges extended their authorisation to investigate crimes in Côte d’Ivoire since the 19 September 2002 coup attempt. Côte d’Ivoire became a state party to the ICC in 2013.

Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice:
“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) welcome the Pre-Trial Chamber I’s decision to confirm charges for crimes against humanity against Mr Gbagbo and to commit him to trial before a Trial Chamber in The Hague. Impunity for political violence has been the norm in Côte d’Ivoire for far too long and this ruling by the ICC is an important step in the quest for justice and healing for countless Ivorian victims of grave human rights violations Moreover, this first case against a former head of State before the ICC sends a clear message that impunity for perpetrators of crimes under international law is never an option, regardless of rank or official status.

“However, the crimes allegedly committed over a four-month period between 2010 and 2011 by Mr Gbagbo and his armed forces constitute only one aspect of the abuses that have taken place in Côte d’Ivoire. The victims of crimes committed in Côte d’Ivoire prior to December 2010 also deserve justice and redress. NPWJ and the NRPTT therefore look forward the ICC Prosecutor continuing to investigate all serious crimes under international law committed against civilians since September 2002 and ensuring that all those, irrespective of their political allegiance, who bear the greatest responsibility for their commission will be held accountable for their actions. We also look forward to the Ivorian authorities continuing to provide the Court with full cooperation, both for the current cases against Mr Gbabo and other members of his inner circle (namely Simone Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé) and in respect of possible additional ICC investigations or arrest warrants.

“At the same time, NPWJ and the NRPTT note that who is prosecuted at the ICC will depend on the crimes and their level of responsibility. The ICC can only prosecute so many people and we urge the Prosecutor to continue her focus on those who bear the greatest responsibility for the crimes, even if this means all sides are not equally represented on the ICC’s docket. In any event, Côte d’Ivoire also has a responsibility to its citizens to pursue justice and prevent impunity at all levels. We urge the Ivorian authorities to provide appropriate and effective accountability for the entirety of crimes allegedly committed by all fighting forces in Côte d’Ivoire over the past decade, utilising  various domestic transitional justice approaches that must include criminal justice. It is only by ensuring that justice is finally done for victims irrespective of the perpetrators and upholding the rule of law that the Government can show a real break with the past and regain the trust of the Ivorian people in State institutions. This would be an important signal that Côte d’Ivoire is committed to turning a new page and moving to a future based on full respect for the human rights of all.

“Finally, with the start of a new phase in the judicial process against Mr Gbagbo, it is of the utmost importance that the ICC implements effective and sustained outreach activities. NPWJ and the NRPTT call on the ICC to take immediate steps to strengthen its outreach program in Côte d’Ivoire to promote understanding of the legal proceedings and to manage expectations of the victims and the population as a whole. The ICC must also ensure enhanced victims participation, to help the Court fulfil the greatest part of its role: delivering a sense of justice and accountability to victims of crimes it investigates and prosecutes.”

Previous press releases:

For further information, please contact Alison Smith on asmith@npwj.org or +32-(0)2-548-3912 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32-(0)2-548-3915.