Citizens fear Gbagbo handover to ICC could stall reconciliation
As former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo is placed behind bars at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, reports from Abidjan say many Ivorians have expressed concern and outrage over the move, while others hail it.
WADR’s Abidjan correspondent says some ordinary citizens he talked to see the action as “deception” and questioned why the former Ivorian leader was not allowed to face justice in the country for alleged crimes he had committed. He said others, including Gbagbo supporters, also spoke of the pursuit of partial justice by the current Ivorian authorities.
Others have also spoken of the serious implications Gbagbo’s hand over to the ICC would have on furthering national reconciliation in a country that is yet to recover from the devastating effects of the post election violence. The United Nations estimates that some 3,000 people were killed in the post election violence.
The former Ivorian leader, who was ousted from power after his capture last April, refused to leave office after the country’s Independent Electoral Commission had declared his main rival (now President) Alassane Ouattara winner of the November 2010 election.
He was transferred to The Hague after being issued an arrest warrant last night from the northern town of Korhogo, headquarters of the former New Forces rebels who backed Ouattara.
On the mood in the Ivory Coast on Wednesday in the wake of Gbagbo’s transfer to The Hague, Frank Sainworla interviews WADR’s Abidjan Correspondent Suy Khaofi.
Click audio below to listen
Meanwhile, the New York based rights group, Human Rights Watch has hailed Gbagbo’s hand over to the ICC for trial for alleged crimes committed during the post election violence, but called on the court Prosecutor to “move swiftly on investigations for grave crimes committed by forces allied with the current President Alassane Ouattara.”
Below is text of HRW press statement issued Tuesday evening:
“Gbagbo’s refusal to step down when the Independent Electoral Commission and international observers proclaimed Ouattara the winner of the November 28, 2010 presidential run-off set off six months of violence. At least 3,000 people were killed and more than 150 women raped during the conflict period, often in targeted acts by forces on both sides along political, ethnic, and religious lines.
“This is a big day for the victims of Côte d’Ivoire’s horrific post-election violence,” said Elise Keppler, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch. “That Laurent Gbagbo now has to answer to the court sends a strong message to Ivorian political and military leaders that no one should be above the law.”
According to news reports, Ivorian judicial authorities informed Gbagbo of the ICC arrest warrant on November 29, 2011. Gbagbo is the first former head of state taken into custody by the ICC. President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, have likewise been subject to ICC arrest warrants. Al-Bashir has not come into ICC custody, nor did Gaddafi.
“The ICC is playing its part to show that even those at the highest levels of power cannot escape justice when implicated in grave crimes,” Keppler said.
Efforts by both the ICC and the Ivorian government to ensure accountability for the post-election crimes are important in returning the rule of law to Côte d’Ivoire, Human Rights Watch said. However, investigations with a view to prosecutions are needed without delay for individuals implicated in grave crimes who fought in the forces allied with Ouattara,” Human Rights Watch Press statement said.