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Côte d’Ivoire / Human Rights: UN expert highlights challenges to national reconciliation

ABIDJAN / GENEVA (20 January 2017) – The United Nations Independent Expert on capacity building and technical cooperation for Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights, Mohammed Ayat, today examined the challenges for the new Ivorian political and social landscape in view of the imminent withdrawal of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).

At the end of his fifth visit to Côte d’Ivoire, from 10 to 17 January, Mr. Ayat called for vigilance to preserve achievements and strengthen progresses in the country’s security and stability, political dialogue, transitional justice and human rights.

“I call on the Ivorian authorities to continue without delay the reform of the security sector and the strengthening of institutions for peace and good governance as vital steps to achieve the objectives of emergence set for 2020,” he said.

The Independent Expert expressed concern at the military and police mutinies, and the violent incidents at a high school in Abidjan, as well of civil servants’ strikes. Mr Ayat recalled that their demands have to be expressed and heard in an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and respect for human rights.

“The successful organization of the 2015 and 2016 elections in a peaceful and serene atmosphere is a remarkable step forward in a country where electoral periods are very much apprehended because they were in the past the frame of political tensions and serious violence,” the expert added.

Mr Ayat noted with satisfaction the publication of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Dialogue Committee in November 2016 and encouraged a careful study of the recommendations for optimal implementation. He also drew attention to the instructions given by the President of the Republic for the publication of the report of the National Commission for the Reparation and Compensation of Victims, which lists the victims of the crises in Côte d’Ivoire and proposes concrete modalities for reparation and compensation. The expert referred to the request of Ivoirians, particularly victims, displaced persons and refugees, to have diligent access to this report.

On the aspect of national reconciliation devoted to justice, Mr. Ayat recalled that “Justice remains a priority area for national reconciliation, since it leads to the manifestation of the truth while respecting the guarantees of a fair trial.”

On the economic front, Côte d’Ivoire has registered very encouraging development indicators since 2012. The expert stressed the challenges of strengthening human development in parallel with macroeconomic development with a view to a better distribution of national wealth.

Mr Ayat noted with satisfaction the five priority projects of the Government’s program, reiterated during the investiture speech of the Vice-President, notably the structural transformation of the economy and the improvement of living conditions of the population.

The expert took note of the plan for the handover and consolidation of the peacekeeping achievements drawn up by the UN and the Government to continue the support to the Ivorian institutions in the field of human rights. He questioned the national authorities on the merger of the Ministries of Justice and Human Rights in the new Government of January 11, 2016.

“I encourage the Government to seize the opportunity of the current context to adjust the handover plan with UNOCI and the United Nations country team to ensure necessary support for the promotion of human rights,” he said.

Mr Ayat congratulated the National Commission for Human Rights in Côte d’Ivoire (CNDHCI) for its growing dynamism and stated that “the recommendations of the annual report of the CNDHCI constitute an ambitious plan that the State will have to support, with the international community.”

In particular, the independent expert welcomed the mechanism for monitoring violations of human rights established by the CNDHCI and the Armed Forces of Côte d’Ivoire with the support of UNOCI, with a view to reducing violations of human rights including sexual abuse. He encouraged the consolidation of this mechanism guaranteeing a renovated army, able to protect civilians.

During his visit, the Independent Expert met with members of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, representatives of non-governmental organizations and victims’ associations. He met with representatives of the diplomatic corps and the UN country team in Côte d’Ivoire.

The expert will present his final report at the thirty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2017.

Mr. Mohammed Ayat was designated as the Independent Expert on capacity building and technical cooperation for Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights by the Human Rights Council. He took over his mandate on December 2014. Check Check all the reports by the Independent Expert.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page: Côte d’Ivoire

For more information and media requests, please contact Martin Seutcheu (+41 22 928 9618 / mseutcheu@ohchr.org)

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

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