Retaliatory killings in the Ivory Coast [JURIST news archive] between factions loyal to ousted former president Laurent Gbagbo and current president Alassane Ouattara [BBC profiles] have continued, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text] Thursday. Violence has riddled the nation since last November's disputed election, after which Ouattara was eventually declared the winner. Gbagbo had to be forcefully removed from office and is currently under the protection of UN personnel [CNN report]. Despite both Gbagbo's and Ouattara's telling their forces to stop fighting, hostility continues, with HRW reporting approximately 150 murders by Ouattara supporters and 220 by Gbagbo supporters:
In addition to killings, Human Rights Watch interviewed young men who had been detained by the Republican Forces and then released, and documented the arbitrary detention and inhumane treatment of scores more young men - often arrested for no other apparent reason than their age and ethnic group. Nearly every former detainee described being struck repeatedly with guns, belts, rope, and fists to extract information on where weapons were hidden or to punish them for alleged participation in the Young Patriots, a pro-Gbagbo militia group. Several described torture, including forcibly removing teeth from one victim and placing a burning hot knife on another victim, then cutting him.HRW recommended that Ouattara immediately investigate the killings and detainments, and cooperate with and seek aid from the international community and the UN. The report also asked the UN Security Council [official website] to release a report on the violence, and the UN Operations in the Ivory Coast [official website] to significantly increase their patrols and inspections of detention centers.
Last month, Ouattara asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to launch an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged crimes committed as a result of the disputed presidential elections last November. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] then submitted a request to the court [JURIST report] to begin an investigation into the Ivory Coast political conflict, but a formal investigation has yet to begin. In April, HRW urged Ouattara to conduct an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged atrocities carried out by his forces in its attempts to secure the presidency. According to the report, the pro-Ouattara forces, known as the Republican Forces of the Ivory Coast, killed more than 100 civilians, raped at least 20 supporters of Gbagbo and burned at least 10 villages in March. Also last month, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] reported the deaths of at least 800 civilians [JURIST report] in the Ivory Coast town of Duekoue as a result of intercommunal violence.