The violence that followed the disputed presidential election in November 2010 has caused the most serious humanitarian and human rights crisis in Côte d'Ivoire since the de facto partition of the country in September 2002. Hundreds of people have been unlawfully killed, often only on the grounds of their ethnicity or presumed political affiliation. Women and adolescents have been victims of sexual violence, including rape, and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes to seek refuge in other regions of Côte d'Ivoire or in neighbouring countries, especially Liberia.
Human rights violations and abuses continued to be committed after the arrest of the former president, Laurent Gbagbo, on 11 April 2011. In Abidjan, a manhunt was launched against real or perceived supporters of the former president and several senior officials very close to the former president were beaten and ill-treated in the hours following their arrest. In the west of the country, thousands of people fled their homes and, by the time the document was finalized (i.e. 17 May 2011), many were still living in the forest for fear of returning to their homes. These people, belonging to ethnic groups considered to be supporters of Laurent Gbagbo, have been left to their own devices and have little or no protection from either the Forces républicaines de Côte d'Ivoire (FRCI, Republican forces of Côte d'Ivoire), created on 8 March 2011, by President Alassane Ouattara, or the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI). In some cases, people who tried to return home
were victims of violence and noted at times that their homes were occupied by others.
The country's new leaders, notably President Alassane Ouattara and his Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, face three imperatives: put an immediate end to the human rights violations and abuses currently being committed against the real or presumed supporters of Laurent Gbagbo; re-establish the rule of law and order the security forces to protect all sections of the population whatever their political affiliation or ethnic group, notably the displaced and refugee populations so that these people can return to their homes and recover their belongings and lands; and promptly conduct an impartial investigation into the violence committed by all parties since December 2010.
On 11 April 2011, in his first speech after Laurent Gbagbo's arrest, President Alassane Ouattara announced his intention to "set up a truth and reconciliation commission to shed light on all the massacres, crimes and other human rights violations." Two days later, the new president publicly asked the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, to begin an investigation into the massacres that took place in the west of the country at the end of March 2011. Amnesty International welcomes these two decisions but notes that no reconciliation will be possible in Côte d'Ivoire unless justice and reparation
is provided to all the victims of the terrible massacres and other human rights violations and abuses, committed not only since December 2010 but also during the last decade.
This report is based on research carried out in Côte d'Ivoire for more than two months between January and April 2011 both in Abidjan and some parts of the west of the country. The conclusions in this report clearly show that all parties to the conflict have committed crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
For the last two decades, Côte d'Ivoire has been subject to amnesia and amnesties. Successive governments have deliberately refused to accept their responsibility to fight impunity for gross human rights violations.
The mass violations committed by all parties during these last six months have left victims, their families and large section of the population scarred and traumatized. The country's new authorities must urgently re-establish the rule of law and the people's trust in impartial security forces. Without justice and reparation for the victims of today and yesterday, any further appeals for reconciliation made by President Ouattara, the international community and all Ivorians run the risk of foundering on an unstable and unsatisfactory compromize that could lead to more violence and vengeance in the future.