NPWJ welcomes the arrival of former Ivorian President Gbagbo at the ICC in The Hague

1 Nov, 2011 | Press Releases

On 30 November 2011, former Ivorian President, Laurent Koudou Gbagbo, arrived at the International Criminal Court (ICC) detention centre in The Hague, marking the first transfer of a former head of State to the ICC. Following an ICC arrest warrant issued one week earlier, the Ivorian authorities transferred Mr Gbagbo on 29 November 2011. Mr Gbagbo is allegedly criminally responsible as “indirect co-perpetrator” for crimes against humanity (murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhumane acts), committed in Côte d’Ivoire between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011, following national elections. Côte d’Ivoire, while not being a party to the Rome Statute, had accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC on 18 April 2003 and reconfirmed that acceptance on 14 December 2010 and 3 May 2011.

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 arrival of Mr Gbagbo at the ICC and the cooperation of the current leadership of Côte d’Ivoire with the ICC to this end. Mr Gbagbo’s transfer to the ICC is an important step in the quest for justice and healing for countless Ivorian victims of grave human rights violations. Furthermore, this first appearance of 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. We hope this event will herald the removal from power and end to crimes of other heads of State who have been accused of crimes against humanity but who have not yet been brought to justice, notably Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

“However, the ICC arrest warrant issued by Pre-Trial Chamber III concerns solely the crimes allegedly committed by Pro-Gbagbo forces and thus constitutes only one aspect of the abuses that have taken place in Côte d’Ivoire. Indeed, serious crimes under international law against civilians have also ostensibly been committed by forces loyal to the current Ivorian President, Alassane Ouattara, as well as by different factions in the past decade.

“NPWJ and the NRPTT urge the Prosecutor to investigate crimes allegedly committed by all fighting forces as a matter of urgency and we hope that there will also be investigations into crimes committed over the past decade. This will ensure that impartial and effective justice is finally done for the victims, which is a crucial precondition for lasting peace. This is the best chance to break the cycle of violence, by ensuring that those who bear the greatest responsibility for crimes against the civilian population are brought to justice, irrespective of their rank or political allegiance. We further urge the Ivorian authorities to extend the same level of cooperation to the ICC in respect of additional investigations or arrest warrants as they have done so far. 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.

“NPWJ also urges the Court to start outreach in Côte d’Ivoire as soon as possible. With the detention of Mr Gbagbo and the start of the next phase in his trial, there is now a compelling need for the Court to engage with victims and affected communities 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 on or +32-(0)2-548-3912 or Nicola Giovannini on or +32-(0)2-548-3915.