ICC postpones decision on former Ivorian president’s trial: victims continue to wait for justice

Victims of widespread abuses in Ivory Coast still await justice as on 3 June a pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) postponed deciding whether Laurent Gbagbo, former President of Ivory Coast, should be sent to trial.

The Chamber found that the ICC Prosecutor had not submitted enough evidence to establish whether Gbagbo was responsible, as an indirect co-perpetrator, for the crimes against humanity of murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, other inhumane acts and persecution committed in Ivory Coast in 2010 and 2011 following the contested presidential election in 2010.

The judges stressed that the Prosecutor’s case was relying too heavily on evidence from NGOs, UN reports and press articles and that those had limited value as evidence.

The Chamber asked the Prosecutor to provide additional evidence or to conduct further investigations by 15 November 2013, and postponed its decision on the confirmation of charges.

The postponement highlights the need for further clarity on the standards of proof required to proceed to a full trial. It also raises questions regarding the Prosecutor’s strategy in view of some recent court decisions stressing that more efforts should be made to complete investigations prior to the confirmation of charges.

This latest decision means further delay for victims to know the truth and see justice being served. It is now clear that it will not be known until next year whether there will be a trial in that case.

“There is a high risk that this decision will not be fully understood by victims and affected communities on the ground. The ICC should undertake urgent outreach to explain the decision to those who have been waiting for justice for too long,” said Dadimos Haile, Interim Director of REDRESS. “We also call on State parties to cooperate with the Prosecutor and to provide her with all the necessary support to conduct thorough investigations,” Haile added.

Further information from:

Eva Sanchis, Communications Officer, on [email protected] or +44 (0) 20 7793 1777.

Note to editors:

REDRESS was founded by a torture survivor in 1992. Since then, it has consistently fought for the rights of torture survivors and their families in the UK and abroad. REDRESS, along with others, played a role in ensuring that key provisions for victims were incorporated into the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). We are also the informal coordinator of the Victims’ Rights Working Group (VRWG), a network of 400 national and international organisations and experts that advocates on victim’s issues before the ICC. More information about the VRWG is available on www.vrwg.org.