Cote d'Ivoire risks further destabilization if human rights violations not addressed, warns UN human rights chief

09:48, April 14, 2011      

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Grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law occurring in Cote d'Ivoire need to be addressed or it could propel the West African country into further destabilization, the top UN human rights official warned Wednesday.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, told the UN Security Council in a meeting on Cote d'Ivoire that while the arrest of former President Laurent Gbagbo "offers the prospect of an end to the conflict," immediate action must be taken.

"Serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that occurred must be addressed or they may yet serve as cause for further destabilization in an already fragile situation," Pillay said.

"Immediate and decisive action is now called for not only to respond to the dire humanitarian needs but also to build public confidence in the rule of law and ensure that justice is done."

As part of the UN coordinated response, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) conducted a mission to the region on April 2-9 to assess the human rights situation there.

"Our mission found evidence of large-scale human rights violations including extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and sexual violence in Abidjan and the rest of the country in the course of the conflict," Pillay said.

According to the Human Rights Division of the UN mission in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI), at least 400 people were killed in Abidjan between the first round of presidential elections and the entry of Republican Forces, loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized victor, into the city, said Pillay.

In the west of the country, towns such as Duekoue have been " the scene of large-scale killings" from the second half of March leading to a total displacement of at least 28,000 people from that town alone, said Pillay.

As Ivorian President Ouattara is taking power in the country, " it is of utmost importance that, in this transition, all necessary measures be taken to prevent any security vacuum or acts of retaliation," Pillay said. "Law and order should be restored as soon as possible in Abidjan."

She also highlighted concern about the climate of "entrenched division and distrust amongst the communities," in which re- building social cohesion and to foster reconciliation needs to be one of the main priorities of the government.

Meanwhile, an International Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday to investigate the allegations of serious abuses and violations of human rights committed following the presidential election of Cote d'Ivoire in November 2010.

The three-member commission is due to present its findings to the Human Rights Council at its next session in June.

Source: Xinhua
 
 
     
 
 
 
     
 
 
 
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