[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [HRW report] on Wednesday that since July 2011 at least 40 people including women and children have been killed during cross-border attacks on Ivory Coast [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] villages by armed militants in Liberia [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The report stated that militants were using children to conduct those attacks on the villages in the Ivory Coast and killing civilians who support President Alassane Ouattara [official website, in French]. The attackers were identified as Liberians and Ivorians who fought for the former President Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] during 2010 post-election violence [JURIST news archive] in the Ivory Coast and remain violently opposed to Ouattara's government. HRW urged the Liberian government to take measure to ensure that children are not recruited to the armed groups and to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict [text], which makes it a crime to recruit children under 18 into armed forces. HRW also condemned Liberia's failure to convict those responsible for the post-election violence and letting them find refuge around the borders as well as to investigate into the cross-border attacks.
The continuing prevalent violence in Ivory Coast has been subject to criticism by international human rights groups. In February, HRW expressed concern [JURIST report] over the flawed investigation into the post-election violence and advocated six-month extension of the probe. Another concern was that all 17 members of the investigating commission were chosen by President Ouattara creating possibility of bias in the investigation. During the same month, International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] was granted permission [JURIST report] to expand his investigation of war crimes in the Ivory Coast to incidents dating back to 2002.