Côte d’Ivoire : Three organisations lodge an appeal against presidential amnesty

Press release
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On National Peace Day in Côte d’Ivoire (1), FIDH, MIDH and LIDHO are revealing the appeal lodged with President Alassane Ouattara against the amnesty order of 6 August 2018. This amnesty concerns 800 persons involved in crimes committed during the post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011. It includes high-ranking military officers and political leaders from both sides of the conflict. Our organisations call on the authorities of Côte d’Ivoire to reverse this decision in order to guarantee an access to justice for the victims of serious human rights violations, according to the obligations of the State of Côte d’Ivoire. The former amnesties of 2003 and 2007 did not prevent the perpetration of other serious crimes. A lasting peace in Côte d’Ivoire will only be possible if those responsible for the most serious crimes are in fact prosecuted.

« The decision to amnesty is unacceptable because it is illegal, but also because its intention is to annihilate the hopes for justice of victims who have been participating since 2011 in the judicial proceedings. Several dozens of alleged perpetrators have already been convicted. Drawing a line on certain people’s responsibilities does not consolidate peace, as was declared, but rather sets the ground for future tensions that no one wants to relive in Côte d’Ivoire »

Yacouba Doumbia, lawyers of the victims and president of the MIDH.

FIDH, MIDH and LIDHO are accompanying 250 victims of the 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis before national courts. In an appeal filed on 5 Octobre with the President, our organisations have asked the Head of State to repeal his decree 2018/669 of 6 August 2018 providing amnesty, and adopted in violation of the Constitution of Côte d’Ivoire. If no answer is given by the President in due time (2), this appeal will be presented to the administrative chambers of the Supreme Court.

This appeal is primarily based on the illegality of this decision with regards to the Constitution. The President can not make a decree in terms of justice or amnesty if the National Assembly did not allow him to do so. In fact, the National Assembly has allowed the President to make decrees during the year 2018 (3), but only « regarding the economy and finances ». The decree is thus illegal because President Ouattara did not have the power to make such a decision which is strictly a matter of national representation.

Beyond this flagrant violation of the Constitution, the appeal filed by our organisations is based on the State of Côte d’Ivoire’s obligations to guarantee the respect for human rights and thus to prosecute those responsible for crimes of war and crimes against humanity. President Ouattara, as the national and international investigation commissions (4), had confirmed that such crimes had been committed during the crisis. Several international treaties ratified by Côte d’Ivoire (5) compel the State to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes and preclude amnesty.

« This illegal decision, which benefits especially several military and political leaders, is a worrying signal for the Rule of Law in Côte d’Ivoire, but also for peace-building efforts. History has shown that in Côte d’Ivoire and elsewhere, impunity never enables durable peace. The two amnesty measures taken in 2003 and 2007 certainly did not prevent the 2010-2011 crisis »

Drissa Traore, FIDH Vice President.

On the contrary, these amnesty measures have prevented judicial proceedings against the perpetrators of serious human rights violations committed during this decade, such as the Yopougon mass grave (2000), or the execution of military police officers in Bouake (2002) to cite but a few emblematic events.

Indeed, in the aftermath of the 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis, all of the actors on the national scene agreed that the impunity of the 2000-2010 decade had been one of the major causes of the post-electoral crisis. President Ouattara had declared in 2012 : « There will be no impunity in Côte d’Ivoire.[…] All the individuals who have committed reprehensible acts during the post-electoral crisis will answer before a court. This is the price Côte d’Ivoire will have to pay to turn the page for good and find a sustainable and lasting justice.»

Among those concerned by the amnesty are eight leaders of the security system of Côte d’Ivoire, and affiliated with different political parties, who have been charged by the justice of Côte d’Ivoire for war crimes and crimes against humanity. FIDH, MIDH and LIDHO fear that the stakes of the 2020 presidential election, in addition to the reformatting of the political landscape, lead to a new round of violence. Besides, tensions – sometimes intense – have marred the local elections of 13 Octobre 2018 and at least six people were killed. This happened two months after the implementation of the decree which was supposed to ease the social climate.

For all of these reasons, FIDH, MIDH and LIDHO call on the President of Côte d’Ivoire to repeal the amnesty decree of 6 August in order to enable the justice of Côte d’Ivoire (5) to finalize the procedures started in 2011 and to organize the trials of those identified during the investigations.

« The presidential amnesty stunned many victims. It is now time to respond to this attempt to deny justice to the victims. If the amnesty is not repealed, we will consider any and all of the resorts, in Côte d’Ivoire, but also before regional and international, and even foreign, jurisdictions. The perpetrators of the 2010-2011 crimes will not go unpunished. And, in any case, this amnesty which goes against international law will not prevent proceedings before the International Criminal Court or any other jurisdiction»

Mr Pierre Adjoumani Kouamé, President of LIDHO.

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Press Contact :
Audrey Couprie
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