Cote d’Ivoire is a democratic republic ruled by a freely elected government. Authorities failed at times to maintain effective control over the security forces, who committed some human rights abuses.
The 2010 national presidential elections that brought President Alassane Ouattara to office were generally free and fair, but a five-month crisis ensued, during which defeated incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power. Violence perpetrated by both sides resulted in approximately 3,000 deaths, significant population displacement, torture, sexual violence, and widespread property destruction. The postelectoral crisis officially ended in April 2011 with Gbagbo’s capture. At year’s end Gbagbo, who was indicted at the International Criminal Court (ICC), awaited confirmation of charges for crimes against humanity. In August Ivoirian authorities provisionally released 14 pro-Gbagbo defendants, including Pascal Affi N’Guessan, Gbagbo’s former spokesman and the former president of the Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI), Gbagbo’s party. Continued insecurity and slow political reconciliation complicated the government’s efforts to restore the rule of law and address impunity. While armed individuals launched a few attacks during the year that targeted military positions and police stations, the overall security situation improved.
The most serious human rights problems were security force abuse and the government’s inability to enforce the rule of law. The Republican Forces of Cote d’Ivoire (FRCI), the country’s military, were responsible for extrajudicial killings, acts of torture, and arbitrary detentions. Dozos--traditional hunters who often assumed unofficial security roles, particularly in the west of the country--were involved in human rights abuses including killings, torture, and arbitrary detention. Prison and detention center conditions were harsh. Corruption persisted in the judiciary, which was inefficient and lacked independence. The government restricted press freedom and freedom of assembly. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) faced insecure and difficult living conditions.
Discrimination, sexual assault, and violence against women and children, including female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), occurred. Societal discrimination against ethnic groups, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, persons with disabilities, and victims of HIV/AIDS was a problem. Employers subjected children and informal sector workers to forced labor and hazardous conditions, particularly in rural areas.
The government seldom took steps to prosecute officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in the government. Security force impunity for pro-Ouattara forces who committed crimes during and since the 2011 postelectoral crisis continued to be a problem.