The decision to try Côte d’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo at the ICC for crimes against humanity is an important step forward in the fight against impunity in the country. He will become the first former president to be tried at the Court.
Following months of deliberations, two of three judges in ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I found that evidence presented by the prosecution established substantial grounds to believe Gbagbo is responsible for crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, other inhumane acts (or in the alternative attempted murder, and persecution) allegedly committed during violence that erupted following Côte d’Ivoire’s disputed 2010 presidential election.
Coalition Convenor William Pace:
“The many victims of Côte d’Ivoire’s 2010-11 post-electoral crisis have long-awaited the prosecution of those responsible for the heinous crimes they suffered, and the decision to try Laurent Gbagbo at the ICC is an important step towards providing them with accountability. Having a former head of state such as Gbagbo face trial at the ICC is a timely reminder that no one – no matter their station in life of place in society – is immune to prosecution in the Rome Statute system of international justice.”
The crimes Gbagbo will face trial for are said to have been committed in the capital Abidjan between 16 and 19 December 2010 during and after a pro-Ouattara march on the RTI headquarters, on 3 March 2011 at a women’s demonstration in Abobo, on 17 March 2011 by shelling a densely populated area in Abobo, and on or around 12 April 2011 in Yopougon.
He is accused of committing these crimes jointly with members of his inner circle and through members of the pro-Gbagbo forces or—in the alternative—for ordering soliciting and inducing the commission of these crimes or—in the alternative—for contributing in any other way to the commission of these crimes.
President of the Ivorian Coalition for the ICC Ali Ouattara:
“This is another step forward for the victims of the post electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. The confirmation of charges against former president Laurent Gbagbo opens a new era for Ivorian human rights defenders and all those committed to fighting impunity. We now hope that accountability will be extended to all perpetrators of serious human rights violations committed in Côte d’Ivoire since 19 September 2002. The Ivorian judiciary system must bolster the proceedings linked to the post electoral violence.”
The confirmation of charges came after ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda submitted additional evidence to judges, who in June 2013 delayed issuing a decision on whether the case against Gbagbo would move to trial due to insufficient evidence.
They requested that the prosecutor to consider providing further evidence or conducting further investigation, emphasizing however that the evidence did not appear to be so lacking that it left them with no choice but to decline to confirm the charges. In her dissenting opinion Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert maintained that the evidence provided by the Prosecutor was not sufficient to send Gbagbo to trial, although she did not dispute that horrendous crimes were committed against civilians by forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo.
While Gbagbo can still appeal the decision, a chamber of judges will now be composed for the trial.
On 18 August 2014, the confirmation of charges hearing will take place in the case against Charles Blé Goudé, the former leader of the Young Patriots, the youth wing of Gbagbo’s political movement. He is charged with similar crimes.
Simone Gbagbo is also wanted by the ICC for her alleged part in the post-election violence. However, Côte d’Ivoire has challenged the ICC saying it is willing and able to try the former first lady before a national court.
Read our press release.
For more information visit our Côte d’Ivoire webpage.