Simone Gbagbo Trial: First of many

Press release
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The start of the trial of 83 people, including Simone Gbagbo who stands accused of attempting to undermine the security of the State, is an important milestone in the judicial process related to the Ivory Coast’s post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011. However, our organisations consider this to be only the beginning of the process, as the most serious crimes are still under investigation by prosecutors. When these proceed to trial, it is the alleged perpetrators of crimes from all parties who should finally face justice.

The Ivorian justice system chose to prosecute the crimes committed during the post-electoral crisis in several stages. Today, it is not the serious violations of human rights that will be prosecuted in Court, but only charges related to the security of the State. We must commend this progress, but the victims - who still carry their wounds – impatiently await the commencement of trials for more serious crimes. Thus, this is not the definitive trial of the crisis which begins today, but rather a first trial of the crisis  “ stated Yacouba Doumbia, MIDH President.

Most of the 83 people referred to the Criminal Court of Abidjan, by an ordinance of the Indictment Chamber (10 July 2013), will face multiple charges, including threatening national security, attacking or conspiring against the authority of the State, creation of armed bands, directing or participating in an insurrectionist movement, and disturbing public order.

 In this first trial, the only “victims” are the State and public order. Certainly, this is a major step towards justice, but we must not forget that the bereaved families, the victims of sexual crimes and those who lost so much between December 2010 and April 2011 - that these people are still waiting for investigations to move forward and satisfy their demands for truth, justice and reparation. Moreover, crimes were committed by both sides, and victims will not cease in their demands to see both sides face justice.  “ declared Patrick Baudoin, FIDH Honorary President.

Cases involving serious human rights violations are still being investigated by the Special Investigation and Examination Unit (CSEI). A second trial will have to be organized by the Ivorian justice system, in which some of the accused in the current trial who are also under investigation by the CSEI, might be referred to the Court a second time.

“ We will follow and observe this trial in its entirety because it is an important challenge for the Ivorian justice system. It is the first time that a Criminal Court will have to try so many accused in a single case. It is imperative that the Court rises to the challenge of providing a fair trial that respects the rights of the defendants, otherwise ongoing investigations into other crimes will be discredited. “ declared Drissa Traoré, FIDH Vice-President.

FIDH, LIDHO and MIDH have filed a civil action in the “violent crimes” case. Our organisations assist a hundred victims before Ivorian justice, and will have a team of legal observers present for the duration of the trial.

“ Neither political nor electoral considerations have any place in this judicial process. Over the past several months, we have denounced the circumstances in which some of the accused were released on bail by a decision of the Executive. To succeed, this trial will have to uphold only the Law and its proceedings, not political considerations that do not belong in Court “ declared Pierre Adjoumani Kouame, LIDHO President.

Our organizations recall that an international arrest warrant was issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Simone Gbagbo on the 22nd of November 2012, as an indirect co-perpetrator for four counts of crimes against humanity – murder, rape and other sexual violence, persecution and other inhuman acts – allegedly committed during the post-electoral violence between the 16th of December 2010 and the 12th of April 2011. According to the principle of complementarity of jurisdiction between the ICC and the national courts, national authorities will either have to try Simone Gbagbo for the above mentioned crimes, or cooperate with the ICC and transfer her to the Court in The Hague.

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