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International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced on October 15 that the ICC would investigate three to six individuals for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the post-November 2010 election violence in Côte d’Ivoire. Ocampo said no names would be published until ICC judges had approved his list of suspects. He also said investigations would include violence committed as early as 2002. The ICC prosecutor met with current Ivoirian president Alassane Ouattara, but not with former president Laurent Gbagbo, whose lawyers say he should be tried by his own country and not an international tribunal.

Ouattara says nobody in his government will be spared from investigation, though none of his allies or supporters have been arrested or investigated so far. Human Rights Watch said on October 6 that, “President Ouattara needs to swiftly match his soaring rhetoric on ending impunity with credible prosecutions of those in his camp who committed serious crimes.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa also commented on the need for impartial justice in a statement on September 27: “We are convinced that the perception that ‘victor’s justice’ is being applied would greatly undermine the reconciliation process.” In an October 18 article, the Daily Maverick of South Africa said that if impartial justice is not provided, “public distrust in the government will only deepen, this time with the south feeling aggrieved. Côte d’Ivoire will be back where it started again.”

Photo: usip.org

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On October 3 the International Criminal Court approved an investigation by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo into alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes in Côte d’Ivoire, Human Rights Watch said. The investigation centers on the events of last year’s disputed November presidential elections. On his impending investigation, Ocampo said, “from today, the Prosecution will collect evidence impartially and independently, and as soon as possible we will present our cases before the Judges, who will ultimately decide who should face trial. Our investigation should be part of national and international efforts to prevent future crimes in Côte d’Ivoire.” Ocampo has been ordered to return in a month to provide any additional information on crimes committed between 2002 and 2010.

The situation in Côte d’Ivoire has been under investigation by the ICC since 2003, when the Ivoirian government sent a letter to the ICC accepting its jurisdiction in accordance with article 12(3) of the Rome Statute. In December 2010 the newly elected president Alassane Ouattara sent a letter to the ICC accepting the Court’s jurisdiction, and sent another in May 2011 requesting an investigation into the crimes committed following the November 2010 elections. Ocampo requested authorization for said investigation on June 23 2011, a request that was approved on October 3 by the Pre-Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court.

The violence surrounding last year’s elections resulted in at least 3000 civilian casualties, 72 disappearances, and over 100 reported cases of rape. Radio Netherlands Worldwide said on October 3 that Ocampo had created a confidential list of suspects that he sent to the ICC judges along with his request for an investigation; Laurent Gbagbo, former president of Côte d’Ivoire, is thought to be on the list. This investigation will examine the actions of both Ouattara and Gbagbo supporters, both of whom are thought to have committed crimes against humanity during the post-election violence. This investigation is also to include crimes committed before the November 2010 elections, particularly after the 2002-2003 armed conflict and its aftermath.

Photo: unmultimedia.org

* Human Rights Watch stated that more international monitors are “urgently needed” to help protect civilians and prevent crimes against humanity during the ongoing conflict in the Sudanese state of South Kordofan. The Sudanese government called claims of genocide in South Kordofan “misleading and subjective” after the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations called for an international investigation in the area.

* Despite the abatement in post-election fighting in Côte d’Ivoire, Amnesty International claims that hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons cannot return home because government forces are targeting ethnic groups thought to be loyal to former president Laurent Gbagbo with arbitrary arrests, executions, and other crimes.

* In a letter to Myanmar’s president and the leaders of four rebel groups, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi warned of a return to all-out civil war unless all sides pursue a ceasefire and peaceful negotiations.

*According to the global activist group Avaaz, an estimated 3,000 people have gone “missing” in Syria since the government began its crackdown on the democratic uprising there.

Photos (from top): Stuart Price, Peter DiCampo/Pulitzer Center, almostdorothy.wordpress.com

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