The Hague, October 3, 2011 (FH) - Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) Monday authorized Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Côte d'Ivoire since the second round of presidential elections in November 2010. The UN estimates that more than 3,000 people were killed in violence that broke out when Laurent Gabgbo refused to accept the victory of the internationally recognized winner Alassane Ouattara.

1 min 45Approximate reading time

"The Chamber authorizes the commencement of an investigation in Côte d'Ivoire with respect to crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed since 28 November 2010," reads the decision of Pre-Trial Chamber III. "The Investigation is also authorised with respect to continuing crimes that may be committed in the future (...), insofar as they are part of the context of the ongoing situation in Côte d'Ivoire."

In accordance with ICC rules, the judges also asked the Prosecutor to "revert to the Chamber within one month with any additional information that is available to him on potentially relevant crimes committed between 2002 and 2010." The ICC came into being on July 1, 2002, and does not have competence to try crimes committed before that date.

When he asked the judges in June for permission to investigate, Ocampo also sent them a confidential list of the persons he suspects of bearing the most criminal responsiblity. Gbagbo is thought to be on this list. Speaking on satellite TV station France 24 in December 2010, Ocampo also named Charles Blé Goudé, head of the pro-Gbagbo "Young Patriots" militia.

Gbagbo was arrested on April 11, 2011, by Ouattara forces assisted by the French. He is currently being detained in Korhogo, northern Côte d'Ivoire. Blé Goudé went into exile when the Gabgbo regime fell in April.  

According to several human rights organizations, pro-Ouattara militia called Forces républicaines de Côte d'Ivoire (FRCI) are still committing abuses against civilians, while their leader Guillaume Soro is the current Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire.

On September 28, Côte d'Ivoire launched in Yamoussoukro a Truth and Reconciliation Commission designed to help the country deal with its past and foster national unity. The TRC is composed of eleven well-known Ivorians including soccer star Didier Drogba, and is chaired by former Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny. Some members of the opposition are already saying they will not join the reconciliation process unless Gbagbo is freed.  

While Côte d'Ivoire is not a member of the ICC, it first accepted the Court's jurisdiction in 2003. More recently, President Ouattara "reconfirmed the country's acceptance of this jurisdiction" and asked the ICC for assistance in ensuring that "the perpetrators would not go unpunished".


© Hirondelle News Agency