Ivory Towers...? Not quite

The fighting has subsided, the television news crews have departed and to the casual observer normality has returned to the West African state of Ivory Coast.  Given the ongoing unrest and turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, it is rare for this cocoa-producing state to still grab any news headlines now that Alassane Ouattara has been sworn in as the country’s new President.

However despite the media hush, Amnesty continues to closely monitor developments across Ivory Coast and has uncovered some worrying findings. A recent delegation to the country found dozens of supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo – and the former President himself – are still being held without charge in various parts of Ivory Coast.

Amnesty International was able to visit the detainees being held in the Pergola Hotel – including the former Prime Minister and former Minister of Foreign Affairs and found some of the detainees had been beaten, one severely enough to lose consciousness.  Worse still, it appeared that French and UN soldiers were present during the detainees’ arrest and transfer to the hotel, yet did nothing to prevent the ill-treatment.

Meanwhile the former President is still being held with his wife and other supporters loyal to him in the northern town of Korhogo.  Amnesty’s concerned that the conditions in which they’re being held are life-threatening.   

Several of those being held at the Pergola Hotel went voluntarily, believing they would be protected from the widespread violence and reprisals in Abidjan in the days following Laurent Gbagbo’s arrest. They didn’t realise they were going to be detained.

Although allowed access to the detainees in Pergola Hotel, Amnesty was denied permission to visit the northern towns where the former President Gbagbo is being held.

Despite the great promises which Ouattara declared as he was sworn in, of “ensuring a new beginning of reconciliation for Ivory Coast”, there’s clearly still a long way to go.  He could start by ensuring that all those being detained including the former President are charged and tried immediately or released.  

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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