UN independent expert stresses need for justice to aid reconciliation in Côte

“It is important that the authorities give clear signal on their willingness to assure equity of the justice machinery,” said Doudou Diène, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, at the end of a visit to the country. “Those responsible of human rights violations from both sides have to be brought to justice.”The UN has been supporting the reunification and stabilization of the West African country, split by civil war in 2002. A 2010 presidential election, meant to culminate the peace process, resulted in months of violence when former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after losing to Alassane Ouattara, who finally took office in May 2011.Last year saw a resurgence of violence over several months, with a spate of attacks targeting national security forces in and around Abidjan and along the borders with Ghana and Liberia.“After more than ten years of political crisis, justice is key for the reconciliation process in Côte d’Ivoire,” Mr. Diène said.During his seven-day visit, Mr. Diène met high-level officials, including Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan, and a number of other ministers, judicial officials, security officials, and the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The human rights expert met also with civil society representatives.“I commend the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for its efforts on establishing the rule of law in Côte d’Ivoire,” the Independent Expert said. “I urge the authorities to continue the political dialogue with the opposition in establishing an inclusive dialogue. The organization of the regional and local elections is a positive step.”Mr. Diène stressed that the National Commission on Dialogue and Reconciliation has an important role to play in the reconciliation process, and called on the Government to provide the necessary resources and time to allow the Commission to fulfil its mandate properly.The Independent Expert also followed up on the implementation of his previous recommendations and those of other UN mechanisms, including the International Commission of Inquiry on Côte d’Ivoire of 2011. He will present a report on his findings to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June.

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