Côte dIvoire UN sets up inquiry on rights abuses during 2002 early

The United Nations has set up an Independent Commission of Inquiry for Côte d’Ivoire to establish the facts and responsibilities for the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law which occurred in the country between mid-September 2002 and the signing of a peace agreement the following January. Violence flared up in the West African nation on 19 September 2002 with deadly attacks by elements of the armed forces. Refugees in Côte d’Ivoire reported losing their homes after government forces allegedly burned parts of the city’s immigrant districts during a security sweep. Shantytowns were also razed in government operations. Following clashes between government troops and rebels, a UN team termed Bouaké a “ghost city.” Tens of thousands of people fled across the border to neighbouring countries. After a ceasefire was brokered, in January 2003 the parties concluded the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, which called for the establishment of the investigative panel announced Tuesday in Geneva. Bertrand Ramcharan, the Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the Commission will take into account the sub-regional dimension of the events in question and visit relevant countries neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire. The mission is set to last initially for three months. Commission members are Aref Mohamed Aref, a lawyer from Djibouti; Gérard Balanda, a judge from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); Fatima Mbaye, a lawyer from Mauritania; Radhia Nazraoui, a lawyer from Tunisia; and Justice Almiro Rodrigez of Portugal, a lawyer and former judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). They are expected to begin their work shortly. Earlier this year, the Acting High Commissioner established, at the request of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, an inquiry panel that looked at alleged atrocities committed during demonstrations in Abidjan on 25 and 26 March of this year.

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