The International Criminal Court, or ICC, has unsealed a warrant against Simone Gbagbo, the wife of Cote d’Ivoire’s former President Laurent Gbagbo, for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the West African nation’s recent political crisis. Gbagbo’s refusal to accept defeat in the 2010 election triggered months of fighting, leading to his arrest and transfer to the ICC late last year to face similar charges.
The ICC prosecutor charged that Mrs. Gbagbo was responsible for crimes committed during the post-election violence including murder, rape, and persecution. She is currently in custody in Cote d’Ivoire where she is under investigation for crimes during the Gbagbo regime.
Though Cote d’Ivoire isn’t party to the Rome Statute, the international treaty that established the ICC, it accepted the court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory, and has an obligation to cooperate with the Court. The United States urges the Ivorian government to cooperate with the court and demonstrate its commitment to seeking justice for the abuses committed by all sides during the crisis.
Ivorian authorities have arrested about 100 pro-Gbagbo military and political figures for their roles in the post-electoral crisis. The only supporters of President Alassane Ouattara who have been arrested for crimes during the post-election violence are several low-level soldiers, despite the fact that Côte d’Ivoire’s own National Commission of Inquiry, established to investigate atrocities during the crisis, cited thousands of killings attributable to both the Pro-Gbagbo and Pro-Ouattara supporters.
We continue to stress the need for accountability on all sides in the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire, at both the national and, where appropriate, international level, and for thorough investigation of the crimes outlined in the Commission of Inquiry report. If the nation is to put the crisis behind it and achieve true reconciliation, there must be credible, transparent legal processes at both the international and national levels to ensure that alleged crimes are investigated and that the perpetrators – regardless of which side they supported – are held to account.