Ivory Coast: New evidence of human rights abuse after Gbagbo forces raid

Amnesty International has today called on Ivory Coast security forces to stop their attacks on political opponents as new information emerged about a deadly raid on political allies of Alassane Ouattara, the internationally-recognised winner of the presidential election.

While outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo has agreed on unconditional negotiations to resolve the political stalemate following December’s poll, Amnesty has received reports of security forces yesterday raiding the Abidjan headquarters of the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI), the country’s former ruling party.

One person was killed, 16 wounded and 63 arrested by several dozen security forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, in a 5am raid yesterday at the Abidjan headquarters of the PDCI. Eyewitnesses told Amnesty that security forces fired live rounds at those inside the building while several people were also beaten.

Amnesty International West Africa researcher Salvatore Saguès said;

“No political solution to the current crisis in Ivory Coast can be lasting unless it ensures full respect for human rights and the restoration of the rule of law.

“Security forces should be called to account for carrying out enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and extrajudicial executions of their political opponents.”

One female eyewitness to yesterday’s raid told Amnesty:

“Some of us were praying when we heard security forces enter the room. They looked everywhere and found nothing. Then they asked some of our young leaders to leave the room and accompany them outside where they were beaten with clubs. Some people protested, and security forces entered. I went to hide myself in a corner and saw security forces throwing tear grenades in the room and firing at us”.

On PDCI party member, Karim Sidibé, was killed as a result of the gunfire. A person who was beside him, who cannot be identified for security reasons, said: “They fired point-blank at us, they hit me on the foot and hit Karim on the stomach. The bullet went through him. I went to see him but he was already dead”.

Amnesty received a credible report this morning that none of the wounded people detained during the raid had yet received medical treatment.

Officials from the Ministry of the Interior loyal to Laurent Gbagbo said on Ivorian TV yesterday that the raid followed reports of complaints from neighbouring residents of “acts of vandalism and theft” by activists close to Alassane Ouatarra. They also said that one person had been killed but “was dressed in a traditional hunter outfit and carried a knife”, and that he had threatened police officers before being killed.

Those arrested are set to be presented today to a investigating judge to face five different charges including “robbery with violence (vol avec violence)”, “assault and battery” (coups de blessures) and “destruction of private property” (destruction de biens d’autrui).

Salvatore Saguès added:

“Amnesty International is calling for the unconditional release of these detainees and for immediate access to medical care for those who have been ill-treated and wounded.”

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