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Press briefing notes on Côte d'Ivoire and El Salvador

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 24 July 2012

(1) Côte d’Ivoire

We condemn the attack on a relocation camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nahibly, near the town of Duékoué in Côte d’Ivoire, that occurred last Friday (20 July) during which at least seven people were killed, 67 injured and the camp completely burned to the ground, causing its 5,000 inhabitants to flee in all directions. A UN investigation team, including human rights officers, is being dispatched to the area today for a ten-day mission.

The attack, which was clearly ethnically motivated, underscores the urgent need to combat impunity for past violations in Côte d’Ivoire. At the height of the post-electoral crisis in March last year, two massacres took place in the Duékoué-Guiglo area. One reportedly resulted in the deaths of around 100 members of the Dioula ethnic community and, in another, approximately 244 mostly male members of the Guere ethnic group were found to have been killed during the capture of Duékoué on 28 March 2011 by the Forces Républicaines de Côte d'Ivoire (FRCI). It appears that the attack on the IDP camp in Nahibly was targeted at members of the Guere community, which is being blamed by the Dioula community for an armed robbery earlier in the day on Friday during which five Malinké (a sub-group of the Dioula people) were killed.

More than a year after the March 2011 Duékoué ethnic violence, little progress has been made in advancing justice and accountability. While more than 176 members of the pro-Gbabgo camp, aligned with former President Laurent Gbagbo, have been indicted for violations committed during the post-electoral crisis, we understand that no arrests have been made of supporters of current President Alassane Ouattara in relation to these crimes.

The High Commissioner has stressed the importance of fighting against impunity and we again encourage the Government to prosecute perpetrators from all sides of the political divide, through a fair and impartial judicial process, to take the country forward. There can be no national reconciliation without justice and in the worst cases, the wounds fester and can result in violence of the kind that occurred in Nahibly last Friday.

The Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Côte d’Ivoire is due to organise a national consultation in September, with the support of our human rights officers on the ground. This is a very important initiative, but it is essential to remember that the work of this Commission does not replace the need for prosecutions for gross human rights violations.

We welcome President Ouattara’s unequivocal condemnation of the crimes in Duékoué and call on him to ensure that the investigation into the events of last week is independent, impartial and that perpetrators are held accountable in a court of law.

(2) El Salvador

We remain concerned about the continuing dispute between the Legislative Assembly and the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court in El Salvador. On 19 July, the High Commissioner Navi Pillay sent a letter to the President of the Legislative Assembly expressing concern at the situation and calling on him to put an end to the conflict with the Judiciary in a manner consistent with the international human rights obligations of El Salvador, safeguarding the independence of the judiciary.

We understand that President Funes has summoned all political parties represented in the Legislative Assembly to a meeting today to discuss the situation. We hope that a solution will be found that will enable El Salvador to preserve the rule of law, in line with the country's own constitution and relevant international treaties which El Salvador has ratified and is bound by.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+ 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org).

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