Côte d’Ivoire

Overview:  In January, Prime Minister Achi launched a social welfare program to render more resilient those communities at the front lines of the terrorist threat spilling over from the Sahel.  While Côte d’Ivoire did not experience any new terrorist attacks in 2022, it assessed the security situation to have further deteriorated because of democratic backsliding in Burkina Faso and Mali.  In response to the increased risk, the Ivoirian government has undertaken a whole-of-government approach to counter the expansion of violent extremism and the threat of terrorism encroaching from the Sahel.

The new social welfare program, PS-Gouv-2, sought to improve livelihoods in communities along the nation’s northern border.  It did so by increasing the availability of government-provided education and training, empowering women, and making available financial resources for youth employment.  On the security side, the Ivoirian government continued to maintain the Northern Operational Zone (known by the French acronym ZON and comprising an estimated 3,000 soldiers on active patrol).  It successfully launched and sustained the operations of a counterterrorism fusion cell, the Counterterrorism Operational Intelligence Center (CROAT).

CROAT is leading the way in francophone West Africa on the capacity to use intelligence as evidence in civilian criminal trials, to enable the authorities to better identify, detain, and prosecute alleged terrorists.  The Government of Côte d’Ivoire assesses the Macina Liberation Front (aka Katiba Macina), part of the al-Qa’ida affiliate Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), to be responsible for the series of attacks that took place during 2020 and 2021 in northern Côte d’Ivoire.  JNIM exploits historic tensions between ethnic communities and is trying to expand into Coastal West Africa.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  Côte d’Ivoire did not experience any confirmed terrorist incidents in 2022.  Recent military coups and other military takeovers in countries to its north, uncertainty around the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, rising inflation and economic pressure attributable to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a six-month-long detention of Ivoirian soldiers in Bamako on reportedly false pretexts, and the breakdown in cross-border counterterrorism coordination since the arrival of Russia’s Wagner Group in Mali all aggravate a worsening situation.

Law Enforcement and Border Security:  Antiterrorism Act No. 2015-493 of 2015 remains in effect.  Those convicted of terrorism under this law may face penalties of up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $80,000 (CFA franc 50 million).  There were no changes to report.

  • There were no counterterrorism-related government policies that suppress political opposition or dissent; however, there were accounts of individuals from one specific ethnicity being subjected to more-frequent questioning and temporary detention by civilian law enforcement in the northern regions of Côte d’Ivoire.  Aware of the negative impact this pattern of behavior undertaken by civilian law enforcement has had on the subject population, the Ivoirian government took steps to reduce stigmatization of historically vulnerable and marginalized communities, especially members of this vulnerable ethnicity, and work in this space should be built into any CVE programming.
  • There are seven law enforcement units responsible for and contributing to the country’s counterterrorism effort.  Their names are provided in French for consistency:  the Brigade Antiterroriste, Centre de Coordination des Décisions Opérationnelles, Force de Recherche et d’Assistance, Unité de Lutte Contre le Criminalité Organisée Transnationale, the Cellule de Traitement des Informations Financières, Police Criminelle, and Police Économique.
  • The units responsible for the Ivoirian government’s counterterrorism efforts include the CROAT, CCDO (the Center of Coordination for Decision making Operations), UIGN (Intervention Units of the National Gendarmerie), FRAP (the Research and Assault and Protection Force), GMI (the Mobile Intervention Group), and CTM (the Maritime Counterterrorism Group).  The Ivoirian armed forces also maintain a counterterrorism unit called the Forces Spéciales Ivoiriennes.  While these units collaborate with one another, they also acknowledge the need to improve coordination.  Côte d’Ivoire partners with INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on counterterrorism.  The Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DST) carries out systematic controls at land, air, and sea borders.  DST relies on INTERPOL-provided international databases to verify individual identities.  Most of Côte d’Ivoire’s borders with its neighbors are poorly demarcated and difficult to monitor.  When not prevented by flooding during the rainy season, migrants and others take advantage of the lack of demarcations or barriers to enter Côte d’Ivoire.
  • On November 30 the Ivoirian courts opened a trial against 18 individuals accused of taking part in the 2016 terrorist attack in Grand-Bassam.  Press reported the trial concluded on December 28, with 11 individuals receiving life sentences for their role in the attack that killed 19 people.  Four of the defendants were present in the Ivoirian court.  Currently, Ivoirian authorities are holding seven individuals with ties to Burkina Faso and armed terrorist groups on charges of financing terrorism and recruitment.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Côte d’Ivoire is a member of the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa, and its FIU, the National Unit for the Processing of Financial Information in Côte d’Ivoire (or CENTIF-CI), is a member of the Egmont Group.  There were no significant changes in 2022.

Countering Violent Extremism:  In 2022 the Ivoirian Government undertook actions to reduce the vulnerability of communities in the North by launching a series of social welfare programs.  The PS-Gouv-2 program funded youth employment, improved access to capital, and increased population touchpoints with the government (such as health and other public services).  The government also established a youth employment fund specifically for the northern regions of Bagoué, Bounkani, and Tchologo.  The Government of Côte d’Ivoire is aware that civilian law enforcement patterns of behavior result in individuals from one specific ethnic group being subject more frequently to scrutiny and the possibility of detention.  The Ivoirian government has taken steps to reduce stigmatization of this community through public messaging and senior leadership engagement.  But it recognized that much more work yet needs to be done in this space.  In 2019, Cote d’Ivoire, with support from France, launched the International Counterterrorism Academy (AILCT) to provide classroom and kinetic training to law enforcement, gendarme, and military officials across the region and conduct research to strengthen regional counterterrorism and countering violent extremism efforts.  The AILCT hosted SOCAFRICA’s annual multinational exercise FLINTLOCK in 2022.

International and Regional CT Cooperation:  These include the following:

International

  • The United Nations — member state
  • The UN Office of Counterterrorism
  • UNODC
  • The Global Counterterrorism Forum
  • AILCT — founder

Regional

  • The African Union — member state
  • The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) — member state
  • The ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff Committee — member state
  • The Accra Initiative — member state

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