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Côte d’Ivoire: “Provisional release of pro-Gbagbo detainees, major step towards national reconciliation,” says UN expert

GENEVA (7 August 2013) – “The release of 14 pro-Gbagbo detainees linked to the post-electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire constitutes a major step in the national reconciliation process and a strong act in the construction of an equitable justice in the country,” the United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, Doudou Diène, said today. The prisoners were released this week by the Trial Chamber in Abidjan after two years in detention.

“The authorities’ decision is likely to re-launch the political dialogue vigorously,” Mr. Diène noted. “It is also a key step in the process of national catharsis by which the Ivorian people must recognize and accept the profound moral and political causes of the past violence and grave human rights violations and eradicate their social, cultural and psychological consequences.”

The release, which conforms to international human rights law, represents one of the core recommendations from the Independent Expert and various reports on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire by the United Nations as well as by national, regional and international NGOs.

Earlier this year, during the presentation of his latest report on Côte d’Ivoire to the UN Human Rights Council, the Independent Expert called on the Ivorian authorities to proceed to the trial of detainees close to former President Laurent Gbagbo or to release them. Mr. Diène, who visited these detainees during his missions to the country, insisted on the need of justice equity in the national reconciliation process and the democratic reconstruction process in the country.

“An impartial and equitable justice constitutes a solid guarantee for the democratic reconstruction, the promotion of human rights and the national reconciliation,” the Independent Expert said.

“I hope the provisional release of detainees, which reflects fairness of justice, falls within an irreversible process of national reconciliation, and also is accompanied by emblematic measures as to give meaning and substance to the fight against impunity,” he stressed while hoping that the Ivorian authorities will take concrete steps in implementing a process of national reconciliation.

Mr. Diene also called on the Ivorian authorities to find a fair balance between the need to respect the rights of detainees and the rights of the victims. “This measure of openness from the authorities should also take into account the rights of all victims of the post electoral crisis, in particular, by the fairness of the ongoing proceedings and the implementation of a policy on effective remedies necessary to the national reconciliation process.”

The mandate of the Independent Expert was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 for a period of one year to assist the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and relevant actors in the follow-up of the recommendations of the International Commission of Inquiry on Côte d’Ivoire and the Human Rights Council, including the ones addressed to the international community. As Independent Expert, Mr. Doudou Diène acts independently from any Government or organization. He was previously the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in 2002-08.

OHCHR Country page – Cote d’Ivoire: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CIIndex.aspx

Check the Independent Expert’s latest report on Côte d’Ivoire: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/A-HRC-19-72_en.pdf

For additional information and media requests, please contact Johel Dominique (+41 22 928 9398 / jdominique@ohchr.org) or write to EICotedivoire@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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