HRW raises alarm over Ivorian abuses

Nov. 19, 2012 at 1:55 PM

PARIS, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Widespread abuses allegedly carried out by the military in Ivory Coast do little to advance reconciliation efforts in the country, Human Rights Watch said.

Ivory Coast last year was pushed to the brink of civil war following disputed presidential elections meant to unite a country divided by earlier conflict. Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo is on trial at the International Criminal Court for war crimes, though both sides are accused of committing atrocities.

Human Rights Watch, in a report published Monday, said military forces were responsible for human rights abuses during a military crackdown last summer. The report said abuses ranged from torture to illegal detentions.

Corinne Dufka, a senior researcher on West Africa for Human Rights Watch, said the government of President Alassane Outtara should hold soldiers accountable for any criminal activity.

"The security threats to Ivory Coast are real but widespread abuses by the military will fuel, rather than end, them," she said in a statement from Paris.

The crackdown during the summer followed early fighting along the country's border with Liberia.

In April, the rights group accused Ivorian and Liberian rebels of stoking unrest in the country. In June, peacekeepers with the U.N. mission in Ivory Coast were attacked by unidentified assailants while on patrol near the Liberian border. The mission said an undetermined number of Ivorians were killed along with seven members of the peacekeeping unit.

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