Human rights in Côte d’Ivoire remain restricted in 2017. A small country located in West Africa, the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (also known as the Ivory Coast) has recently gained an atmosphere of political stability and continued macroeconomic growth. This has, in turn, influenced a positive change in law and an upward trend in certain economic and social rights.
However, there is still much work to be done in addressing the political violence caused by the denial of or controversy surrounding certain human rights in Côte d’Ivoire.
Some of the rights that those in the United States take for granted every single day are the rights to freedom of expression, press and assembly. In Côte d’Ivoire, joining a peaceful protest can often be met with arrest or what is known as “mobile detention,” which is essentially just being held in a moving police vehicle and then forced to walk all the way home.
While the country’s new constitution removes the stipulation that a future presidential candidate has an Ivorian mother and father, a past source of political conflict, other controversies over the new constitution were effectively shut down by restricting the freedom of the press. Those that opposed various aspects of the new constitution were limited in the expression of their opinions by a lack of access to state media and the suspension of two newspapers that had opposing views. The campaign period was only seven days, giving those with opposing views little time to make their voices heard.
This form of political bias has also been visible during trials. Current president Alassane Ouattara claims to ensure country-wide justice for those who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, many of which were committed during a particularly turbulent post-election era in 2010. However, only those who are allegedly supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo were prosecuted for human rights violations. Those loyal to President Ouattara who committed similar human rights violations were not prosecuted.
Côte d’Ivoire remains vulnerable to extremist groups like Al-Qaeda, another negative impact on human rights in Côte d’Ivoire. While there are always improvements that can be made, hopefully the upward trend in social and economic rights will continue.
In June 2017, the World Bank approved a $120 million credit for the Cote d’Ivoire Infrastructure for Urban Development and Competitiveness of Secondary Cities Project. This project aims to create an environment more conducive to local business growth and make cities more appealing to investors and workers. As economic and social factors improve, there is hope that human rights will, too.
– Ellen Ray