Cote d'Ivoire: Press Briefing Notes On Côte d'Ivoire

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara casting his vote in Abidjan.

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani

Location: Geneva

Date: 27 October 2020

We urge the Government of Cote d'Ivoire to ensure accountability in relation to reports that at least 20 people have been killed in inter-communal clashes and in confrontations between security forces and supporters of opposition parties in several localities of Côte d'Ivoire in the run-up to the 31 October elections.

Inter-communal clashes occurred in the towns of Bongouanou in the east and in Dabou in the south-east of the country, between 17 and 21 October. In various opposition demonstrations in other towns and in the capital Abidjan, unidentified individuals assaulted, threatened and intimidated protestors using machetes and knives with apparent impunity. On some occasions, voting stations were damaged, people's voting cards destroyed, and private businesses were looted.

To prevent recurrence of such events, it is crucial that the authorities conduct prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all human rights violations and abuses, regardless of the political affiliation of the alleged perpetrators. We understand that a number of individuals have been arrested in relation to the violence in Dabou.

Also deeply worrying is the persistent use of hate speech - or language amounting to advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination and violence on the basis of ethnic and political affiliations - both online and offline, and the manipulation of ethnic differences for political ends.

Given the history of electoral violence in Côte d'Ivoire, we appeal to all parties to refrain from using discriminatory and provocative language along ethnic affiliations that could lead to more divisions in society and, ultimately, to violence.

We call on the authorities to protect the right to political participation in accordance with international standards, and to ensure its exercise without discrimination, fear or reprisals. The authorities must ensure respect for the right to peaceful assembly and protect participants against attacks from third parties. We appeal for calm in the lead up to the election and in its aftermath, and for differences to be resolved through dialogue.

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