UN right council hears call for Ivory Coast probe

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An independent probe into the violence in Ivory Coast must be carried out and all perpetrators held to account, the UN rights chief said in a report presented Monday to the Human Rights Council.

The report issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, concluded that the country has suffered "a drastic deterioration in the human rights situation" since November's presidential elections, particularly in Abidjan and the west of the country.

Ivory Coast has been locked in turmoil since the elections, as strongman Laurent Gbagbo has refused to cede his place even though Alassane Ouattara has been recognised as the winner of the polls by the international community.

"Members of the defence and security forces loyal to Mr Gbagbo used excessive and deadly force to repress political opponents, thus progressively driving the country into political turmoil and installing a climate of suspicion, fear and repression," said the report.

According to the UN, more than 400 people have been killed in post-elections violence.

Pillay's report urged an "in-depth, independent and impartial investigation into all politically related violence, including serious human rights violations and abuses perpetrated... and hold all perpetrators to account."

Diplomats are understood to be readying a resolution on the issue, which is to be submitted to the council for consideration by March 25, the end of this sitting.

Jeannot-Kouadio Ahoussou, Ouattara's minister of justice, urged the international community to "act quickly."

"In Ivory Coast, not a day goes by when we do not see funeral processions and tragedies. This tyranny has to cease," he said, pointing to a "toll which is increasing daily."

Since the elections, "we count thousands dead, hundreds missing, arrests and arbitrary detentions, rapes and diverse violence," he added.

Ahoussou stressed that those responsible "must respond to their action before competent jurisdictions" including the International Criminal Court.

He also reiterated Ouattara's support for an international probe, so that "the perpetrators of these horrible crimes can be seen before the competent international tribunals."

© 2011 AFP

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