Alarming deterioration in Ivory Coast: UN rights chief

10th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN human rights chief expressed alarm on Thursday at the deteriorating violence in Ivory Coast, warning of inter-ethnic clashes as well as systematic inhuman acts.

"Overall, the situation appears to be deteriorating alarmingly, with a sharp increase in inter-communal and inter-ethnic confrontations," said Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

UN officials in the country have documented at least 392 deaths since mid-December, including at least 27 in the past week.

Pillay highlighted a rally on March 3, during which security forces supporting strongman Laurent Gbagbo opened fire, killing seven women. Video footage of the incident could be used to prosecute perpetrators, she added.

She also noted a further four people who were killed in clashes Wednesday between pro-Gbagbo forces and another group called the Invisible Commando.

"Such apparent systematic inhuman acts and persecution are clearly impermissible under international law," Pillay warned.

"Those responsible should bear in mind that they may be held individually criminally responsible."

The UN rights chief slammed the Invisible Commando group in particular, for reportedly using civilians as human shields and from "actively preventing civilians from leaving Abobo and other tense areas of Abidjan."

"I strongly urge all sides to respect the rights of civilians," Pillay said.

"There is a risk of resurgence of the civil war in the country. I urge all parties to show utmost restraint to prevent it, and to resolve their differences peacefully," she stressed.

© 2011 AFP

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