Arusha, November 19, 2012 (FH)– Ivory Coast’s military committed widespread human rights abuses in August and early September this year, says Human Rights Watch in a report released today. The abuses came in response to attacks on military installations allegedly committed by loyalists of former President Laurent Gbagbo, who is now jailed by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on crimes against humanity charges.

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“The Ivorian security forces have committed a myriad of human rights abuses in responding to these attacks, including mass arbitrary arrests, illegal detention, extortion, cruel and inhuman treatment, and, in some cases, torture,” reads part of the report.

HRW says the military crackdown “recalled the grave crimes committed during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis, in some cases under the same commanders previously identified as responsible for brutal abuses”. It calls on the government of President Alassane Ouattara to ensure the “prompt investigation and prosecution”of forces who committed serious human rights abuses.

It is in connection with the 2010-2011 post-election violence that Gbagbo faces charges before the ICC. The ICC prosecution has promised in the past to investigate abuses by all sides.

HRW based its report on a three week research mission to Côte d’Ivoire in late August and early September 2012. The work focused primarily on the crackdown by security forces in the Abidjan neighborhood of Yopougon and in the town of Dabou, some 40 kilometers to the west of Abidjan.

During its field work, Human Rights Watch interviewed 39 people who had been arrested and detained within the period, as well as another 14 witnesses to mass arrests, beatings, and other abuses. It also met several others in relation to the security forces’ response to the August attacks.