Friday, April 8, 2011

Duékoué massacre: "An impartial investigation of international justice is necessary"

After the massacre of large-scale attack in Duekoue 29 and March 30, only the UN mission (UNOCI) has designated the Republican Forces (FRCI) pro-Ouattara as responsible for "most" of killings committed in the city of West. NGOs, they remain cautious and cite several tracks. They argue for an independent investigation conducted by the International Criminal Court.

Florent Geel is responsible for Africa of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH). Things are still unclear and should be taken with great caution. What is certain is that at least 816 people were killed in Duékoué. What is more certain is that they have been in the space of two days, Tuesday 29 and Wednesday, March 30, when taking the city by FRCI.

However, one should avoid drawing conclusions too quickly. Because this region is experiencing intercommunal fighting for years, well before the post-election crisis. And a majority of the victims belong to ethnic Guere - and I speak in the conditional. This appears especially certain testimony, telling the armed men were sorted into the population, choosing their victims.

But the ethnic explanation is not necessary either. For other corpses were discovered earlier this week, would belong to a different ethnicity. Only part of this violence could be inter. Reportedly, the head of an armed gang - what Ivorians call a "road cutter" - that exists in a national park near Duekoue, could be responsible for abuses quite serious.

It would have ventured beyond his usual theater, enjoying the ambient disorder. Then, what remains unclear is its link with FRCI: does this individual and his men acting under the effective control of the Republican forces? Do without it as clear and claimed the FRCI could control them covertly, in one way or another? Or is it that this warlord is controlled by someone? That is why it is very important that impartial justice as the International Criminal Court (ICC) is entered.

We have two main sources: direct witnesses of the massacres, as those who attended the "triage" the victims of indirect witnesses arrived at the scene after the massacre, for example who participated in counting the bodies. These witnesses, they must examine and take the time to cross-check their stories, to verify the content and the weight, which is essential in a region where few people are not polarized, stakeholders in a camp either.

For now, these witnesses are still rare. The situation is very tense and few dare to speak. From our side, we are also careful not to expose those who speak. A witness involved locally enough to know what happened, and is considered reliable, that is to say non-partisan, is scarce and therefore very easy to spot: if you smuggle him out now he will never return.

Collect solid evidence is a painstaking job. That is what will make the ICC if it is seized: a fieldwork that will have a much clearer and more objective about what happened, and the alleged perpetrators. [ICRC teams have discovered and collected the bodies can not be compelled to testify before the ICC.] It's like a little ambiguous position.

For if Côte d'Ivoire has not ratified the Rome Statute, Laurent Gbagbo has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court in 2003, using Article 12-3 which allows a state not party to seize it, because that 'He wanted her to investigate war crimes committed in 2002 [when he was the victim of an attempted coup by the rebels].

And the court has also been recognized by Alassane Ouattara, who also appealed to the ICC in January. So the Court has the ability to consider before and could start immediately, without recourse to a third State to seize it. I think it's a way for the prosecutor not to lay itself open to critics who say that this Court determines that the African States.

But for that, he must above all that the ICC continue to investigate in Chechnya, Colombia, to show that it is universal. It can not fail to react quickly on the case of Duekoue, on which it is perfectly legitimate. In the situation we are currently experiencing, there is the risk of victor's justice.

If Alassane Ouattara took power, he let the judge who commits a crime if it is derived from his rank? The ICC is the guarantee of impartiality in fact and in spirit. And must pass this impartial justice. It is necessary to enable the country to rebuild. This may happen through a truth commission is one of the solutions that we discuss in our discussions with Alassane Ouattara.

But here, the scale of atrocities is such that it can no longer pass the towel and say "you forget everything." It is not enough to build peace in the long term. Interview by Aline Leclerc

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