Cote d’Ivoire is a democratic republic. Legislative elections held in December 2011, although boycotted by the main opposition party, were considered free and fair by the international community and certified by the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI). Since the postelectoral crisis ended in May 2011, persistent security incidents and slow political reconciliation complicated government efforts to restore the rule of law and address impunity. During the year there were instances in which elements of the security force acted independently of civilian control.
The 2010 national presidential elections that brought Alassane Ouattara to office were free and fair, but a six-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. While the postelectoral crisis officially ended in May 2011 with Gbagbo’s capture, continued insecurity and slow political reconciliation complicated the government’s efforts to restore the rule of law and address impunity. Elements loyal to the former president carried out numerous attacks throughout the year. Although the targets were mainly government military forces, victims also included civilians and seven UNOCI peacekeepers. Gbagbo was indicted and awaiting trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The most serious human rights problems were security force abuses 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. Although originally from the north of the country, Dozos, traditional hunters who often assumed unofficial security roles, were found nationwide and involved in human rights abuses including killings and arbitrary detention during the year. Prison and detention center conditions were harsh. Corruption persisted in the judiciary, which was inefficient and lacked independence. The government restricted press freedom and privacy rights. 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. Children and informal sector workers were subjected to forced labor and hazardous conditions, particularly in rural areas. Corruption was pervasive.
The government seldom took steps to prosecute officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in the government. Security force impunity, particularly for crimes committed during the 2011 postelectoral crisis, was a problem.