Ivorian security plagued by corruption

July 1, 2013 at 10:45 AM

PARIS, July 1 (UPI) -- Security in Ivory Coast is plagued by corruption more than two years after the country was pushed to the brink of civil war, Human Rights Watch said.

Presidential elections in Ivory Coast in 2010 were meant to unite a country divided by war. Rival claims to victory, however, pushed the country to the brink of civil war. Conflict abated when former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo was captured and transferred to The Hague to face war crimes charges in 2011.

Human Rights Watch said in a Monday report extortion was common among security forces operating in western Ivory Coast near the border with Liberia.

"Members of the security forces are shamelessly enriching themselves off of the backs of people in western Ivory Coast," researcher Matt Wells said in a statement from Paris.

The report said soldiers are openly bribing normal Ivorians trying to pass through roadblocks in the west of the country. The organization said it has seen evidence this type of extortion has led to the death of some Ivorian citizens seeking medical care.

Human Rights Watch said Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara was focused more on economic recovery than national security.

"Ivorian authorities need to quickly stamp out security force abuse of the very people they are supposed to protect," Wells said.

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