International Criminology World

World : Africa : Cote_D'Ivoire

The early history of Cote d'Ivoire (herein referred to as "Ivory Coast") is virtually unknown, although it is thought that a Neolithic culture existed. France made its initial contact with Ivory Coast in 1637, when missionaries landed at Assignee near the Gold Coast (now Ghana) border. Early contacts were limited to a few missionaries because of the inhospitable coastline and settlers' fear of the inhabitants. In the 18th century, the country was invaded by two related Akan groups--the Agnes, who occupied the southeast, and the Bales, who settled in the central section. In 1843-44, Adm. Bouet-Williaumez signed treaties with the kings of the Grand Bassam and Assinie regions, placing their territories under a French protectorate. French explorers, missionaries, trading companies, and soldiers gradually extended the area under French control inland from the lagoon region. However, pacification was not accomplished until 1915.

Ivory Coast officially became a French colony in 1893. Captain Binger, who had explored the Gold Coast frontier, was named the first governor. He negotiated boundary treaties with Liberia and the United Kingdom (for the Gold Coast) and later started the campaign against Almany Samory, a Malinke chief, who fought against the French until 1898. From 1904 to 1958, Ivory Coast was a constituent unit of the Federation of French West Africa. It was a colony and an overseas territory under the Third Republic. Until the period following World War II, governmental affairs in French West Africa were administered from Paris. France's policy in West Africa was reflected mainly in its philosophy of "association," meaning that all Africans in Ivory Coast were officially French "subjects" without rights to representation in Africa or France. During World War II, the Vichy regime remained in control until 1943, when members of Gen. Charles De Gaulle's provisional government assumed control of all French West Africa. The Brazzaville conference in 1944, the first Constituent Assembly of the Fourth Republic in 1946, and France's gratitude for African loyalty during World War II led to far-reaching governmental reforms in 1946. French citizenship was granted to all African "subjects," the right to organize politically was recognized, and various forms of forced labor were abolished. A turning point in relations with France was reached with the 1956 Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre), which transferred a number of powers from Paris to elected territorial governments in French West Africa and also removed remaining voting inequalities.

In December 1958, Ivory Coast became an autonomous republic within the French community as a result of a referendum that brought community status to all members of the old Federation of French West Africa except Guinea, which had voted against association. Ivory Coast became independent on August 7, 1960, and permitted its community membership to lapse. Ivory Coast's contemporary political history is closely associated with the career of Felix Houphouet-Boigny, President of the republic and leader of the Parti Democratique de la Ivory Coast (PDCI) until his death on December 7, 1993. He was one of the founders of the Rassemblement Democratique Africain (RDA), the leading pre-independence inter-territorial political party in French West African territories (except Mauritania). Houphouet-Boigny first came to political prominence in 1944 as founder of the Syndicat Agricole Africain, an organization that won improved conditions for African farmers and formed a nucleus for the PDCI. After World War II, he was elected by a narrow margin to the first Constituent Assembly. Representing Ivory Coast in the French National Assembly from 1946 to 1959, he devoted much of his effort to inter-territorial political organization and further amelioration of labor conditions. After his 13-year service in the French National Assembly, including almost 3 years as a minister in the French Government, he became Ivory Coast's first Prime Minister in April 1959, and the following year was elected its first President. In May 1959, Houphouet-Boigny reinforced his position as a dominant figure in West Africa by leading Ivory Coast, Niger, Upper Volta (Burkina), and Dahomey (Benin) into the Council of the Entente, a regional organization promoting economic development. He maintained that the road to African solidarity was through step-by-step economic and political cooperation, recognizing the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other African states.

After Houphouet-Boigny's death in 1993, he was replaced as president by Henri Bedie. Bedie initiated new election laws requiring candidates for public office to have been born in Ivory Coast. This law very likely was directed at Bedie's Muslim rival, northerner Alassane Ouattara. In 1995 Bedie, a southerner and Christian and his BDCI party won 80% of the seats in the National Assembly. However, Bedie was overthrown in 1999 in a bloodless coup, and General Robert Guei assumed the presidency. In the October 2000 election in which Guei trailed FPI candidate Laurent Gbagbo, Gue tried to declare himself the winner but was overwhelmed by a popular uprising that brough Gbagbo to office.

In October 2000, Laurent Gbagbo was elected as the country's third elected president, which ended an almost 10-month period of military rule. In July 2000, the citizens overwhelmingly approved a new Constitution in a referendum, which was implemented on August 4, 2000. On October 26, 2000, after a flawed October 22 presidential election, which was marred by significant violence and irregularities, including a suspension of the vote count for several days, the Supreme Court declared Gbagbo the victor with 53 percent of the vote. Except for the Republican Rally (RDR), the party of rival presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, which decided not to accept ministerial posts, major political parties are represented in the Government, which was made up of 28 ministers. The December 2000 election for the National Assembly was marred by violence, irregularities, and a very low participation rate. To protest the invalidation of the candidacy of Ouattara, the RDR boycotted and disrupted the legislative elections. The Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI) won 96 of the 225 seats; the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI), the former ruling party, won 77; independent candidates won 17; and 4 other parties won a combined 7 seats. At year's end, 28 seats remained unfilled. In January by-elections, the parties won the following number of seats: The FPI, 96 seats; PDCI, 94; RDR (despite their boycott), 5; PIT (Workers' Party), 4; small parties, 2; independents, 22. Two seats from Kong, the home district of Ouattara, remained unfilled at year's end. The judiciary is subject to executive branch and other outside influence.


The economy of Ivory Coast is largely market-based and heavily dependent on the commercial agricultural sector. Most of the rural population remains dependent on smallholder cash crop production. Principal exports are cocoa, coffee, and wood. In 1999 an estimated 56 percent of the population of approximately 15.4 million was literate, but the rate among women (44 percent) is only two-thirds of the rate among men (66 percent). Recorded gross national product per capita in 2000 was approximately $660 (485,000 CFA francs). After several years of 6 to 7 percent annual economic growth following the 1994 currency devaluation, growth slowed to approximately 3 percent in 1999 and was an estimated negative 2 to 3 percent in 2000. The decrease in political violence and the resumption of some foreign aid during the year 2001 helped reverse the negative economic growth rate; estimated economic growth rate for the year is a net zero. Income remained unevenly distributed, and government expenditures for basic education and health services remained far below planned levels. Widespread corruption remained rooted in a lack of transparent and accountable governance. Doubts about the future of the Gbagbo Government, particularly concerns about the susceptibility of the judiciary to outside influences and corruption, resulted in continued investor and consumer uncertainty, which impeded economic growth. Assistance from international financial institutions was limited during the year 2001 due to lingering questions about the Government's human rights record and economic mismanagement; however, such assistance resumed in the final quarter of the year.

The colonial imposition of plantation agriculture allowed the emergence of the first nontraditional African elite, when those who could claim rights to land began to employ farm laborers to produce cash crops for the colonial regime. This group of planters, as they came to be known, formed the core of the earliest Ivoirian political machine, which continued to influence the course of change in the 1980s. Alongside the rural elite, a fledgling civil servant middle class also appeared in response to the needs of the bureaucracy, as new levels of political awareness and activism surfaced throughout the region.

Economic modernization paralleled political and social change in the shift from colonial to African power arrangements. Spurred by the opening of the Vridi Canal to the Gulf of Guinea in 1950 and the concentration of government functions in the southeastern port of Abidjan, population migration toward the south increased, and secondary towns developed along routes to Abidjan. Modernization essentially became the process of urbanization, and the distinction between urban and rural came to symbolize the widening rift between rich and poor.

Despite official descriptions of their society as "classless" and egalitarian in the 1980s, Ivoirian citizens were acutely aware of the distinction between the rich and the poor. People perceived "temporary distortions" in the social fabric--as social inequities were described by the president--as continuing trends. They attributed these distortions to a variety of factors but rarely to the role of the government in maintaining and subsidizing the elite. Regional and international competition in commodity markets was cited as a source of economic recession and hardship in general. Within Côte d'Ivoire, regional inequities were often blamed on mismanagement by presidential advisers but not on the president himself. Cabinet ministers, in particular, were often blamed for poor policy decisions and implementation and were often subjected to invidious comparisons with presidential wisdom and imagination.

At the same time, Ivoirian society was permeated with a sense of apathy about social development, except among those in or very close to political office. Even those who acknowledged the nation's strengths often did not feel like active participants in its development. The large foreign presence within the economy, the entrenched political machine, and the relatively unchanging living conditions among the poor contributed to this sense of alienation from the overall progress that has marked Côte d'Ivoire since independence.


Most Ivoirians practice local religions, which are sometimes infused with elements of Christianity or Islam, or both. Government estimates in the 1980s suggested that about one-fourth of the population was Muslim, and one-eighth, Christian--mostly Roman Catholic.

Islam and Christianity are practiced in a variety of forms throughout the country, as different social and spiritual problems bring forth a variety of responses. Islam has been practiced in the far north for roughly seven centuries, shifting its appeal over this time from its strength as a world religion and its basis in written testaments to its symbolic importance as an alternative to European religions. Christian missionaries arrived at the coast in the seventeenth century but did not win converts in large numbers until the nineteenth century. Christianity's appeal was strongest among educated Africans and those who sought advancement through European contact. Christian holidays are officially recognized, but Muslim celebrations are also held, and, as in many areas of national life, tolerance is the general attitude toward the practice of religion.

Religious communities generally coexist peacefully, in part because no world religion has been enthusiastically embraced by a majority of people. Conversions have been an individual matter in most cases, and many families include Muslims and Christians living together. Religious tolerance is also part of government policy. The president personally contributes to the cost of building mosques and churches, and he encourages both Muslims and Christians to assist in projects undertaken by other religious communities. Religious practitioners have also earned substantial goodwill through the services they offer their communities, especially in health and education, and by their overall contribution to social harmony.

The Constitution calls for a secular state, although this is not interpreted as strict separation of church and state. Officials often attend religious ceremonies as representatives of the state, and some mission schools receive government aid. Missionaries are generally welcomed throughout the nation, although their teachings seldom replace centuries-old systems of spiritual belief and practice that form the basis of cultural unity.

African religions have maintained their credibility because they provide effective explanations for many of life's dilemmas in ways that can only be understood in their cultural context. Local religions reassure people that they are living in harmony with the universe and that this harmony can be preserved by maintaining proper relationships with all beings. For this reason, separating religion from other aspects of life serves to distort, rather than clarify, its meaning.

According to most local belief systems, spiritual beings--a creator, ancestral spirits, and spirits associated with places and objects--can influence a person's life and luck. This is the major premise on which belief and practice are based. The distinction between the spiritual and physical "worlds," in Western secular terms, is unimportant in the face of what is interpreted as overwhelming evidence that physical events may have spiritual causes.

Lineages are also important in understanding the organization of many Ivoirian religions. The spiritual unity of the descent group transcends distinctions among the unborn, the living, and the deceased. In this context, religious differences are not based on disagreements over dogma or doctrine. Rather, groups living in different social and physical environments encounter different spiritual and physical dangers, and their religious needs differ accordingly. This diversity accounts, in part, for early missionaries in West Africa who often described the spiritual "chaos" they encountered, when they were actually observing different social groupings, each with different spiritual obligations to ancestral and other spirits, acting in accordance with common beliefs about the nature of the universe.


According to many observers, Côte d'Ivoire has one of the most stable political systems in Africa. As of 1988, President Houphouët-Boigny had been the dominant national figure for more than forty years. He was the country's founding father and its first and only president. In 1988 political violence was relatively rare in Côte d'Ivoire. Since independence, there have been few political prisoners, no executions of political opponents, and no officially sanctioned disappearances or abductions. At the same time, there were numerous indications of political instability. Since the 1970s, the Ivoirian polity has experienced several crises.

After the alleged coup attempts in 1962 and 1963, HouphouëtBoigny disarmed, disbanded, and reorganized the army; took over the defense and interior portfolios; formed a party militia composed predominantly of ethnic Baoulé kinsmen to maintain order in Abidjan; overhauled the State Security Court; and, for his personal protection, established a Presidential Guard separate from the army. Nevertheless, Houphouët-Boigny considered the army to be the cornerstone of Ivoirian internal security.

Following the 1973 alleged coup attempt in Côte d'Ivoire and the April 1974 military coup in Niger that ousted President Hamani Diori, a lifelong friend and regional political ally, HouphouëtBoigny ceded a larger political role to the armed forces to give them a formal stake in the regime. In June 1974, he removed the French commander of the FACI and the French commandant of the military academy at Bingerville, replacing them with Ivoirian officers. A month later, he brought military officers into the cabinet for the first time. Houphoüet-Boigny also promoted several senior army officers and appointed ten officers as prefects.

At same time, the new minister of interior, Mathieu Ekra, undertook organizational reforms and made new appointments in the territorial administration and police forces. By the end of 1974, a new ethnic balance had emerged among the security forces. Northerners controlled higher positions in the army; the demographically preponderant Baoulé dominated the National Security Police; and southerners were a plurality in the police and National Gendarmerie.

In the 1980s, as political upheavals became more frequent, Houphouët-Boigny repeatedly changed his government. In February 1981, in the wake of the 1980 coup and assassination attempts, he enlarged the cabinet from twenty-five to thirty-six ministers, bringing in Banny as minister of defense and Leon Konan Koffi, who had a reputation for being tough, as minister of interior. (Ironically, Banny had been the minister of defense who was arrested and sentenced to death for his role in the 1963 coup plot but later given presidential amnesty. Kouadio M'Bahia Blé, who replaced Banny after the 1963 incident, kept that post until Banny took it back from him in 1981.) In late 1985, several senior military officers were appointed to leadership posts in the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (Parti Démocratique de Côte d'Ivoire--PDCI), furthering the process of political co-optation that began in the mid-1970s.

Several other groups, including political exiles, labor unions, teachers, and university students, at times posed a threat to civil order; however, none of these groups was likely to topple the government. Secondary-school teachers in particular became especially outspoken during the mid-1980s. In April 1983, the National Union of Secondary School Teachers of Côte d'Ivoire (Syndicat National des Enseignants du Secondaire de Côte d'Ivoire--SYNESCI) staged a two-week strike to protest an 80 percent reduction in the teachers' housing allowance. The government responded by threatening to conscript union leaders, dissolve the union, expel teachers from their houses, and close all secondary schools. In July 1987, SYNESCI's leaders (who had also called the 1983 strike) were ousted by a progovernment faction during irregular rump proceedings of the union's congress, while uniformed police and plainclothes officers surrounded the union headquarters. The new union officials immediately pledged their loyalty to the government and charged their predecessors with misappropriation of union property and funds. Thirteen of the ousted unionists were arrested, and in late October the eleven males were sent to the army base in Séguéla. According to Minister of Education Balla Keita (who had taken over the newly consolidated ministry in the midst of the 1983 SYNESCI strike with instructions to break it), the detainees were "well-known agents of international subversion" who had been "sent to the army for national service and civic and moral education in the supreme interest of the country." Significantly, SYNESCI--which was one of the last unions independent of the government--appeared finally to have fallen under government influence.

University students have also been a continuing source of antigovernment protest, much to the chagrin of a government that has invested up to 40 percent of the national budget in education. In 1969 police and soldiers occupied and closed the University of Abidjan (present-day National University of Côte d'Ivoire), arrested dozens of students, and detained them at Akouédo after they protested the government's attempt to place their newly formed Movement of Ivoirian Primary and Secondary School Students (Mouvement des Etudiants et des Elèves de Côte d'Ivoire--MEECI) under the PDCI. In February 1982, the government again closed the university after both students and faculty protested the government's banning of Professor Laurent Gbagbo's speech on political freedom. In 1985 police broke up a violent demonstration by students protesting wholesale reduction in scholarship aid.

Alien migrant labor also represented a potential security threat. Côte d'Ivoire's relatively robust economy made the country a magnet for migrant labor. In 1988 at least 2 million foreign Africans in the country--about half of them Burkinabé--(residents of Burkina Faso) comprised about one-fifth, and perhaps much more, of the population of Côte d'Ivoire. Most aliens were agricultural laborers or unemployed urban squatters, politically helpless and economically deprived migrants who turned to crime.

Foreigners who were more industrious often became scapegoats for the wrath of hard-strapped Ivoirians, who saw these outsiders taking jobs that they themselves had allegedly been denied. In April 1980, for example, hundreds of Mauritanians were taken under protective custody, and some 1,500 others took refuge in the Mauritanian embassy in Abidjan after days of rioting and fighting with Ivoirians. More serious incidents directed against Burkinabé occurred during xenophobic riots in 1985, leading Burkina Faso to recall its ambassador from Abidjan.


The crime rate in Ivory Coast is low compared to industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Ivory Coast. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Ivory Coast will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 1997 was 2.34 per 100,000 population for Ivory Coast, 1.02 for Japan, and 6.8 for USA. For rape, the rate in 1997 was 2.34 for Ivory Coast, compared with 1.31 for Japan and 35.92 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 1997 was 66.72 for Ivory Coast, 2.23 for Japan, and 186.05 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 1997 was 174.58 for Ivory Coast, 15.29 for Japan, and 382.04 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 1997 was 40.83 for Ivory Coast, 175.70 for Japan, and 919.57 for USA. The rate of larceny for 1997 was 175.03 for Ivory Coast, 1117.08 for Japan, and 2886.55 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 1997 was 19.07 for Ivory Coast, compared with 27.34 for Japan and 505.8 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 481.19 for Ivory Coast, compared with 1339.97 for Japan and 4922.73 for USA.


Between 1996 and 1997, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder decreased from 2.62 to 2.34 per 100,000 population, a decrease of 10.7%. The rate for rape increased from 2.60 to 2.62, an increase of .8%. The rate of robbery increased from 16.67 to 66.72, an increase of 300.2%. The rate for aggravated assault increased from 99.32 to 174.58, an increase of 75.8%. The rate for burglary decreased from 113.28 to 40.83, a decrease of 64%. The rate of larceny increased from 12.81 to 175.03, an increase of 1266.4%. The rate of motor vehicle theft decreased from 23.23 to 19.07, a decrease of 17.9%. The rate of total index offenses increased from 270.53 to 481.19, an increase of 77.9%.


Crime in Côte d'Ivoire has been linked to abrupt socioeconomic and cultural change related to uncontrolled and rapid urbanization, industrialization and associated labor migration, unemployment and underemployment, the proliferation of urban slums, the absence or collapse of urban and human services, and the inability of government authorities to enforce law and order. In the 1980s, serious crime increased markedly, particularly in Abidjan and other urban areas. Like other modernizing countries, Côte d'Ivoire experienced increases in theft, armed robbery, myriad petty crimes, prostitution, and drug and alcohol abuse. The most frequent offenders were young men and juveniles, although women also increasingly resorted to crime.

Crime and security have become major public concerns in Côte d'Ivoire. The alarming increase in crime rates, particularly in Abidjan, has induced a psychose sécuritaire (obsession with security) among Ivoirians. Frequently thefts and armed robberies, often accompanied by violence, have led some neighborhoods and businesses to form defense committees to protect their lives and property. Private security firms also have prospered in the cities, especially in Abidjan, filling the growing gap between levels of crime and police protection. Various communal and business interest groups have provided equipment and resources to the overtaxed and underequipped public security forces. The most notable recent example was the Abidjan bankers' contribution of motor vehicles to the new bank surveillance unit. The Union of Burkinabé in Côte d'Ivoire also donated ten vehicles to the police during 1983 and 1984. The Lebanese community, whose estimated 100,000 to 300,000 members control much of the retail trade, contributed twenty vehicles and 200,000 liters of fuel to security forces, and the Italian business community donated fifty-five Fiat vehicles to the police. France also has furnished substantial assistance to the paramilitary forces. After Houphouët-Boigny made an obviously undeliverable promise in November 1983 to rid the country of banditry within five months, the French government promptly donated about 100 Peugeot-504 diesel vehicles to the National Gendarmerie. In 1984 France also dispatched a special police brigade to reinforce Ivoirian counterparts. Despite such self-help and French support, in early 1988 there was no indication that the magnitude of Côte d'Ivoire's crime problem would diminish or that the capacity of the security forces to control it would improve.


Security forces include the army, navy, and air force, all under the Ministry of Defense; the Republican Guard, a well-funded presidential security force; the national police (Surete Nationale); and the Gendarmerie, a branch of the armed forces with responsibility for general law enforcement, maintenance of public order, and internal security, including suppression of violent crime. The civilian Directorate of General Intelligence (DRG) is responsible for countering internal threats. A security staff (L'Etat Major de la Securite) collects and distributes information about crime and coordinates the activities of the security forces in times of crisis. The Special Anticrime Police Brigade (SAVAC) and the Anti-Riot Brigade (BAE) continued their operations. An October 2001, press report described a new 10-12 "secret police" unit or Presidential Investigations Unit established by President Gbagbo, under the control of Colonel Alain-Marc Gbogou. The Government reduced the number of groups operating under its control, and most "parallel forces" operating under the Guei regime were disbanded or absorbed into the legitimate security forces. For example, President Gbagbo dissolved the P.C. Crise Marine shortly after the October 2000 presidential elections. The Government generally maintained effective control of the security forces, and there were no reported instances in which security forces acted independently of government authority. There are major divisions within the military based on ethnic, religious, and political loyalties. Security forces committed numerous human rights abuses.

Responsibility for internal security in Côte d'Ivoire was shared by three ministries in a coordinated, multilayered pattern adapted from the French colonial system. The Ministry of Interior was responsible primarily for territorial and local administration and included local police forces; the Ministry of Internal Security was charged with state security and national police functions; and the Ministry of Defense and Maritime Affairs (primarily through the National Gendarmerie) provided paramilitary forces throughout the country in coordination with the respective regional and local authorities.

The Ministry of Interior, as chartered by decrees of January 1961 and May 1962, had broad regulatory functions. As part of its security-related responsibilities, it regulated public associations, gun control, access to public buildings, emigration and immigration, foreign propaganda, foreign visitors, and passport controls. It also directed the National Security Police, supervised traditional chieftaincies, and administered territorial subdivisions.

Although the National Security Police was transferred to the Ministry of Internal Security in 1976, the other functions of Ministry of Interior have remained essentially intact. In February 1981, Leon Konan Koffi replaced Alexis Thierry-Lebbe as minister of interior. As of 1985, its constituent elements included the minister's cabinet and six directorates covering territorial administration, local communities, financial affairs, personnel and manpower programs, the National Printing Office, and the National Archives. It had a staff of about 4,900 and an operating budget of CFA F13.3 billion, or 3.2 percent of the government's budget.

Territorial administration remained the ministry's most important function pertaining to public order and internal security. The prefects and subprefects executed government policies and represented the interests of the local population. Each prefecture and municipality also was responsible for maintaining order; executing government laws, regulations, and policies; and administrating the police. Moreover, the prefects and subprefects were empowered to call upon the armed forces if needed and to requisition persons and property in matters of public safety. Prefects were authorized to detain for fortyeight hours anyone apprehended for crimes and offenses involving state security.

The Ministry of Internal Security was established as part of a governmental reorganization in March 1976 to consolidate the national police and state security functions that had formerly been assigned to the Ministry of Interior. In November 1983, Brigadier General Oumar N'Daw, who had been the high commander of the National Gendarmerie for nine years, succeeded Colonel Gaston Ouassenan Koné, who served as minister of internal security from 1976 to 1983. In 1985 the ministry was reorganized into the following groups: the minister's cabinet; eight directorates (National Security Police, Regional Security, Inspector General of Police Services, Materials, Financial Affairs, Personnel, Police Economics and Finances, and Judicial Affairs); the National Police Academy, and an intelligence service. In 1985 the ministry had a staff of about 5,600, and its operating budget of CFA F11.7 billion (or 2.8 percent of the government's budget) represented a 5.8 percent increase over its 1984 operating budget.

The National Security Police was an investigative bureau and national police force with a strength of about 5,300 in 1987. It enforced law and order and provided special police services. The various directorates of the National Security Police were responsible for public security, internal and cross-frontier traffic, counterespionage, intelligence, criminal investigation, narcotics and drug control, and the administration of sixteen national police districts. In larger towns and cities, the National Security Police cooperated with the municipal police forces; in the smaller communities and rural areas, it worked with the local police and the National Gendarmerie. The ministry's Regional Security Directorate included three separate divisions grouping the commissariats for subprefects and major urban centers and the Frontier Police. The Special Police, Frontier Police, and the Abidjan Port Police were grouped under the Central Commissariat.

The National Security Police Public Security Directorate consisted of the uniformed national police and the Companies for the Security of the Republic (Compagnies Republicaines de Securité- -CRS), which were at the immediate disposal of the minister of internal security for deployment throughout the country. In emergencies, prefects could call upon the minister to use any CRS in his or her jurisdiction. The CRS were most frequently used to handle certain kinds of local emergencies and rescue operations. They also cooperated with the local National Gendarmerie forces and the Frontier Police. The Intelligence Directorate was responsible for collecting intelligence on security-related political, economic, and social events (such as industrial strikes and antigovernment demonstrations). The Counterespionage Directorate was responsible for protecting the state against treason and espionage. The Criminal Investigation Directorate coordinated and directed crime-fighting efforts, maintained the central files, and served as liaison with international police through the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).

Before independence and until the National Police Academy (Ecole Nationale de Police) was opened in 1967, police training consisted of a six-month course given at the Federal School in Dakar, Senegal. By 1988 about 6,000 police officers had been trained at the National Police Academy; in the 1980s, the academy annually graduated about 450 officers, who were then assigned to the Police Forces of the Ministry of Internal Security. Like its military counterparts, the National Police Academy also served as a regional training center for francophone Africa and has graduated officers from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Niger, and Senegal.

The academy's basic course of study varied from six months to two years (depending on the student's rank) and included forensic medicine, judicial procedure, criminal investigation, criminology and criminal psychology, police administration, computer technology, and communications. Admission was by direct recruitment or entrance examinations. Candidates for commissioner were required to have credits toward a law degree to gain entrance and to complete their law degree in order to graduate. Candidates who failed to obtain the law degree within two years were admitted to the police officers corps. Commissioners also were recruited from among police officers who fulfilled length-of-service requirements set by police ordinance. Police officer candidates, who also underwent a two-year training program, could be admitted directly to the academy with a bachelor's degree or were recruited by examination from among police officers with three years' service. Finally, police officers were recruited from among qualified Ivoirian nationals who had completed elementary school.

The third pillar of internal security, the National Gendarmerie, consisted of a headquarters staff, four legions (corresponding to the four military regions) and a professional training academy, the Gendarmerie School (Ecole de Gendarmerie). This national constabulary force was formed in October 1960, replacing the Guard of the Republic that had been established in 1958. In 1988 Colonel Koffi Botty was the high commander of the National Gendarmerie, having replaced Brigadier General N'daw in 1983. The National Gendarmerie was responsible for defending rural areas and maintaining domestic order, thereby complementing the conventional tactical capabilities of the regional military commands. Its effective strength of 1,500 in the late 1960s doubled to 3,000 in the early 1970s, and in 1987 it was estimated at 4,500. The headquarters included an intelligence bureau; administrative and training center; bureaus of logistics, personnel, and budget planning; and a security and foreign liaison division.

The four National Gendarmerie legions each had a general staff, detached companies that were deployed in and around the major towns and population centers in their respective prefectures, and a small number of mobile squads for rapid reaction and general support.

Before 1960 auxiliaries and auxiliary students trained in Dakar. In 1960 an officer instruction center was created in Abidjan. In 1961 the National Gendarmerie set up its own academy, the Gendarmerie School, in Abidjan. The school trained NCOs (recruited from among the police and other qualified persons) and constables (recruited from among qualified students). The training period lasted about eleven months, at the end of which graduating constables received a police aptitude certificate. NCOs received an equivalent diploma. Students received instruction in both police techniques and military training. The academy also offered eightweek in-service training courses for NCOs and motorcycle police. The academy has graduated a large number of NCOs but only a few officers. The 1983 graduating class included about 250 NCOs and 8 officers, bringing the academy's total number of graduates to 77 officers and 6,062 NCOs, which included 113 Burkinabé NCOs who underwent training between 1967 and 1969.

On July 1987, the minister of internal security estimated that the Ivoirian police required about 800 recruits a year--nearly three times the recruitment level at that time--to cope with increasing crime. In the 1980s, law enforcement officials conducted periodic large-scale crime sweeps and law-enforcement crackdowns to deter and disrupt illegal activities. In July 1983, for instance, police detained more than 3,500 people during a ten-day sweep of Abidjan that involved both directed and random searches of people, vehicles, and homes. Special police units were formed to counter the increasingly sophisticated and brazen tactics used by criminals. In July 1984, the minister of internal security formed a new "antigang brigade" with special training, equipment, and weapons. In early 1987, in response to the proliferation of bank robberies in Abidjan, the ministry established a bank surveillance brigade with fifteen vehicles donated by the Professional Association of Banks.

In the 1980s, the government stepped up drug enforcement efforts to prevent the production, smuggling, sale, and use of illegal drugs, such as marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates, heroin, and cocaine. In 1986 the police narcotics squad handled 718 drug cases. Nevertheless, the government failed to make a serious dent in an alarming problem that continued to outstrip enforcement resources. In May 1987, Côte d'Ivoire hosted a two-week international symposium on the prevention and treatment of drug abuse and alcoholism. At the insistence of the United States Federal Aeronautics Administration (FAA), the police instituted strict new security measures in October 1987 at the Abidjan-Port Bouët International Airport to meet international standards. The measures included personal searches, metal detectors, baggage xrays , access cards for airport service personnel, and strict access controls for persons and vehicles seeking to enter the airport.

By year 2001, the Government's human rights record remained poor, and although there were improvements in a number of areas, serious problems continued in a number of areas. Members of the security forces committed more than 150 extrajudicial killings during the year 2001, which was a significant decrease from in the previous year. Several persons allegedly disappeared after police dispersed a demonstration. Security forces frequently resorted to lethal force to combat widespread violent crime. Security forces regularly beat detainees and prisoners to punish them or to extract confessions. Police routinely harassed and abused noncitizen Africans. Following an alleged coup attempt on January 7-8, security forces and vigilante gangs harassed, beat, and detained foreigners. President Gbagbo blamed foreigners from Burkina Faso, and thousands fled the country. The Government has continued arbitrary arrests and detention, and prolonged detention remained a problem. Numerous persons, including opposition members, journalists, and military officers in particular, were detained without trial for long periods. Security forces infringed on citizens' privacy rights. The Government restricted freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and movement. Police forcibly dispersed numerous demonstrations.

Security forces frequently resorted to lethal force to combat widespread violent crime. Security forces committed 150 killings during the year 2001, which was a significant decrease from in the previous year. According to government statements and media reports, the security forces killed hundreds of criminals in 2000. The CNSP-created special crime fighting unit, P.C. Crise, and other unofficial quasi-militia forces that sprang up after the 1999 coup committed the majority of these killings. Members of the P.C. Crise, the Kamajors, Cosa Nostra, Cobra, and Red Brigade pursued suspected criminals and frequently executed them immediately after capture; occasionally they publicly displayed the bodies. President Gbagbo dissolved the P.C. Crise after he assumed the presidency in 2000; all other unofficial quasi-militia forces were disbanded prior to the October 2000 presidential elections.

According to the Ivoirian Movement for Human Rights (MIDH), during and following the October 2000 presidential elections, security forces killed more than 500 persons during clashes with protesters. Those who were killed were shot, drowned, or tortured; 860 persons, including many FPI and RDR militants, reportedly were injured. Gendarmes also killed some protesters while they were in detention. In December 2000, the Malian High Council reported that more than 20 Malians were killed and 10 disappeared during the demonstrations and violence that followed the 2000 presidential elections.

While the Government generally maintained effective control of the security forces, there were instances in which security forces acted independently of government authority. In October 2000, after the presidential elections, and again in early December 2000, in the period prior to the parliamentary elections, gendarmes and police reacted violently against RDR political demonstrations. In October 2000, 57 bodies, mostly of Muslims, were discovered in the Abidjan district of Yopougon. Human Rights Watch and other independent investigators published the testimony of alleged survivors, who claimed gendarmes dragged many of them from their homes, marched them along a road where dozens of dead bodies lay, forced them to load bodies into vans, and later shot most of them. Some survivors stated that they lay on the ground pretending to be dead until the gendarmes departed. After taking office, Gbagbo ordered an inquiry into the massacre at Yopougon. In April 2001, the inquiry conducted by an investigating judge led to the indictment of six gendarmes who were serving at the Abobo Gendarme Camp at the time of the massacre. In July and early August 2001, the Government tried all eight gendarmes together in a 4-day military court hearing at a gendarme camp. The Government offered no protection to civilian witnesses. On July 24, security forces forcibly dispersed a sit-in demonstration in front of the gendarme camp prior to the beginning of the trial organized by the "Collective of the October-December Victims" (CVCI). On August 3, the judge acquitted all eight gendarmes due to lack of evidence. The Ivoirian Movement for Human rights (MIDH), the Ivoirian Human Rights League (LIDHO), and two international NGO's, Journalists Without Borders and the International Human Rights Federation, called for a new trial. The military prosecutor chose not to file an appeal. On December 18, in his closing remarks at the conclusion of the Forum for National Reconciliation, President Gbagbo pledged to reopen the investigation into what has become known as the Yopougon massacre.

Following the October 2000 presidential elections and subsequent demonstrations and violence, 18 bodies were found washed ashore in Abidjan's lagoon; the bodies had been shot numerous times. It remained unknown who was responsible for the killings, and a government investigation was ongoing at year's end.

There were no confirmed reports of politically motivated disappearances during the year 2001; however, CVCI alleged that several of its members disappeared after police dispersed their demonstration on July 24.

Following the September 2000 alleged assassination attempt on General Guei, government security forces arrested numerous soldiers who were suspected of involvement in the assassination attempt and in coup plotting. Evidence and the testimony of 13 of the 23 released soldiers suggest that 3 or 4 of the soldiers who disappeared were tortured and killed.

The Constitution prohibits such practices; however, in practice security forces regularly beat detainees and prisoners to punish them or to extract confessions. They frequently forced detainees to perform degrading and humiliating tasks, such as crawling, eating dirt, doing push-ups while under threat of physical harm, drinking urine or blood, and eating excrement. Jurists' union officials and journalists working for the opposition press reported that police have continued to beat suspects to obtain confessions and that suspects were afraid to press charges against the police officers involved. According to local human rights groups, police and gendarmes beat and humiliate detainees or prisoners. Press photographs regularly show prisoners with swollen or bruised faces and bodies. In general government officers who are members of the security forces have not been held accountable for such abuses. Security forces have continued to beat and harass journalists regularly.

The law allows lawyers to assist their clients during the early stages of detention when abuse is most likely; however, in spite of this legislation, police officers and gendarmes have continued to mistreat suspects and other persons summoned to police and gendarme stations, and in many recorded instances, the security forces did not allow lawyers access to their clients. During the year 2001, there were no credible reports that police verbally abused lawyers who tried to assist their clients.

Many unemployed and homeless detainees have reported that authorities beat them while they were in detention.

Police and security forces have continued to use excessive force to disperse demonstrations.

Police routinely harassed and abused noncitizen Africans. Police entered the homes and businesses of citizens, noncitizen Africans, and other noncitizens, and extorted money from them. Foreigners have continued to complain that the police often stopped them for identity checks and confiscated their documents, later to sell them back to the original owners. They reported that even when their residence permits were valid, police occasionally would take them to police stations, where they were beaten and detained overnight if they did not pay a bribe to the officers. In December 2000, a newspaper quoting some of the hundreds of Nigerians who returned to Nigeria to escape the anti-foreigner violence reported that security forces had tortured Nigerians. Anti-foreigner speech and violence, which was prevalent early in the year, decreased greatly in the later months of year coinciding with the 10-week Forum of National Reconciliation.

Unlike in the previous year under the Guei regime, military and other forces were not responsible for numerous robberies, carjackings, widespread looting, and acts of intimidation. Persons apprehended attempting such acts were prosecuted during the year 2001. These abuses previously were widespread particularly during the military mutiny of July 2000. Mutineers robbed, looted, destroyed property, and terrified the citizenry. The mutineers targeted the cities of Abidjan, Bouake, Katiola, Korhogo, and Yamoussoukro in particular. Following the July mutiny, the Government arrested 114 soldiers and 6 officers for their actions during the uprising. The Government released 74 of the soldiers after questioning and tried the remaining 40; 35 soldiers were convicted of participating in the mutiny and sentenced to prison terms; however, the length of these terms was unknown at year's end. Four of the six officers were awaiting trial at year's end; charges against the other two officers were dismissed following an investigation.

During the July 2000 military mutiny, soldiers seriously injured more than 10 civilians, including several who suffered gunshot wounds.

The Code of Penal Procedure specifies that a law officer or investigative magistrate may conduct searches of persons, vehicles, homes, or any other nonpublic place, with authorization of the appropriate judicial or administrative authority, if there is reason to believe that there is evidence on the premises concerning a crime. The official must have the prosecutor's agreement to retain any evidence seized in the search and is required to have witnesses to the search, which may take place at any time of day or night.

In practice police sometimes used a general search warrant without a name or address. On occasion police entered the homes of noncitizen Africans (or apprehended them at large), took them to local police stations, and extorted small amounts of money for alleged minor offenses. Police and gendarmes entered the homes of members of the opposition throughout the country, often without a warrant, to look for guns that these persons allegedly were hiding to destabilize the country. Police also searched the homes and offices of journalists.

Airport and special territorial police seized the luggage and personal documents of several opposition leaders at the airport.

Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that gendarmes searched mosques and the homes of imams.

Unlike in the previous year, gendarmes and members of the military did not make frequent visits, sometimes heavily armed and in armored vehicles or in boats, to the residence of RDR presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara, whose house is located on the Ebrie Lagoon. Ouattara left the country in early December 2000 and chose to remain in France; however, he returned in October after President Gbagbo invited him to participate in the Forum for National Reconciliation and guaranteed his security.

Security forces reportedly monitored some private telephone conversations, but the extent of the practice was unknown. There were reports that the luggage of several prominent persons was subject to search and seizure at the airport; identity papers, travel and business documents, computer disks, and videotapes were seized without legal warrants during the year 2001.


The Ivoirian penal code prohibited official violence without legitimate justification; nevertheless, suspects (particularly foreign Africans) were routinely subjected to rough treatment when detained or arrested by the National Gendarmerie or National Security Police. The penal code also allowed the police or investigative magistrates to conduct home searches without warrants if they had reason to believe that evidence of a crime would be found. Although the Constitution and statutes prohibited arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, the penal code did permit public prosecutors to detain suspects for up to forty-eight hours without charges. Magistrates could order longer detention of up to four months, provided that monthly reports were filed with the Ministry of Justice justifying continued detention. In the 1980s, periodic but short-lived anticrime campaigns resulted in massive detentions. The Ivoirian government abolished capital punishment for political crimes and had not employed it for criminal offenses since independence.

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however in year 2001, in practice arbitrary arrest and detention remained problems. Under the Code of Penal Procedure, a public prosecutor may order the detention of a suspect for only 48 hours without bringing charges. A magistrate may order detention for up to 4 months but also must provide the Minister of Justice with a written justification for continued detention on a monthly basis. However, the law often is violated. Police often hold persons for more than 48 hours without bringing charges. According to members of the jurists' union, this practice is common, and magistrates often are unable to verify that detainees who are not charged are in fact released.

Although it is prohibited by law, police restrict access to some prisoners. Despite the frequency of arbitrary arrest, there is no accurate total of suspects held. There have been no reports of lawyer harassment during the year 2001. Unlike in the previous year, police did not verbally abuse lawyers who tried to assist their clients, and police treatment of lawyers and access to their clients improved during the year 2001.

Defendants do not have the right to a judicial determination of the legality of their detention. A judge may release pretrial detainees on provisional liberty if the judge believes that the suspect is not likely to flee. Many inmates continue to suffer long detention periods in the MACA and other prisons while awaiting trial. In March 1,340 of 2,921 MACA inmates were awaiting trials. Despite the legal limit to 10 months of pretrial detention in civil cases and 22 months in criminal cases, some detainees have spent as many as 5 years in detention awaiting trial.

Foreigners complained that they were subject to police harassment; however, harassment and violence against foreigners decreased during the year 2001. In particular foreigners complained that police took them to police stations where they beat and detained them overnight if they did not pay a bribe to the officers.


The legal system is based on French civil law system and customary law. Judicial review takes place in the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court. The 1960 Constitution entitles all Ivoirians to a fair public trial. That mandate was generally respected in urban areas; in rural villages, traditional institutions more commonly administered justice. Indigent defendants were also entitled to legal counsel by court-appointed attorneys. In practice, public defenders were often unavailable, and there was a vast difference between the representation accorded rich and poor clients. According to the Constitution, judges are subject only to the law, and the president, with the assistance of the Superior Council of Magistrates, is charged with ensuring the independence of the judiciary. Because the president of the republic controlled appointments to the courts, the judiciary seldom, if ever, opposed the president.

The judicial system bore the imprint of both the French legal and judicial traditions and, to a lesser extent, customary law. It consisted of two levels. The lower courts, all of which were created by presidential decree and exercised limited jurisdiction, included the courts of appeals, the courts of first instance, the courts of assize, and the justice of the peace courts. The five courts of first instance, which handled the bulk of trials, heard misdemeanor and minor criminal cases (with a maximum sentence of three months or less), juvenile cases, and civil cases. The courts consisted of a president, one or more vice-presidents, and one or more examining magistrates and trial judges, all of whom were appointed by the president of the republic. The courts were located in Abidjan, Bouaké, Daloa, Korhogo, and Man. Each had two or more delegated sections in larger towns within their respective jurisdictions. The courts of assize, which were paired with courts of first instance, handled only major criminal cases. At the lowest level were justice of the peace courts, presided over by justices of the peace who handled petty cases in civil, criminal, and customary law. The two courts of appeals, located in Abidjan and Bouaké, heard appeals from courts of first instance and courts of assize. The Abidjan court heard appeals from the Abidjan court of first instance and its delegated sections; the Bouaké court handled referrals from the other four courts of first instance.

The superior courts are mandated by the Constitution and have nationwide jurisdiction. They include the Supreme Court, the High Court of Justice and the State Security Court. The Supreme Court is separated into four sections handling, respectively, constitutionality of laws, administrative appeal, criminal appeal, and financial control of government services. The Constitution directs that the court include one president, three vice-presidents (one for each section except the constitutional), nine associate justices, one secretary general, and four secretaries. The Constitutional Section, which always met in closed session, reviewed laws that had been passed by the National Assembly but not yet promulgated. The section had fifteen days to complete its consideration of a bill. The president of the republic or the president of the assembly could forward requests for a constitutional review. The president of the republic could also submit government bills to the section for a constitutional hearing before they were submitted to the Council of Ministers. The Constitutional Section also supervised referenda as called for in the Constitution and ruled on the eligibility of candidates for the National Assembly. The president of the Supreme Court presided over sessions of the section, which also included the vice-presidents of the court and four persons noted for their juridical and administrative competence. These four could also be members of the court. Two of the four were appointed by the president of the assembly, and two were appointed by the president of the republic. The term of office was four years, and there was no provision for removal from office.

The Judicial Section was the highest court of appeals in criminal cases. The section consisted of one vice-president, four associate justices, and two secretaries. It was organized into civil and criminal divisions with three additional magistrates in each. The Administrative Section handled cases of alleged abuse of administrative power involving individuals in public administration. This section consisted of a vice-president and two associate judges. Unlike the judges in other sections, those in the administrative section were magistrates, but not necessarily members of the bench. Another section of the Supreme Court, the Audit and Control Section, monitored public expenditures and annually audited accounts of the state and its agencies. This section consisted of a vice-president, three associate justices, and one secretary

The two other superior courts included the High Court of Justice and the State Security Court. The High Court of Justice was composed of members of the National Assembly who were elected to the court every five years, following each general election. The court was empowered to impeach the president of the republic for treason and to judge other members of the government for crimes or misdemeanors committed in the exercise of their official duties. Cases concerning crimes against state security were heard in the State Security Court.

All judges, as well as all employees of the Central Administration of the Ministry of Justice, comprised the professional judiciary. They were required to have obtained a bachelor of law degree and could not concurrently hold an elected office. A Superior Council of the Judiciary was responsible for assisting the president in the task of guaranteeing an independent judiciary. The council advised the president on nominations to the Supreme Court, on cases concerning judicial independence, and on disciplinary problems. It also advised the minister of justice on nominations to magistrate positions. The council's membership included members of the Constitutional Section of the Supreme Court and three magistrates, each appointed to two-year terms by the president from a list prepared by the minister of justice.

Currently, the Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, in practice the judiciary is subject to executive branch, military, and other outside influences. Although the judiciary is independent in ordinary criminal cases, it follows the lead of the executive in national security or politically sensitive cases. Judges serve at the discretion of the executive, and there were credible reports that they submit to political pressure. On June 6, Police Superintendent Atsain beat and detained Sylla Mory, a judge-trainee at the Courthouse of Korhogo.

The formal judicial system is headed by a Supreme Court and includes the Court of Appeals and lower courts. The Constitutional Chamber, whose main responsibility is to determine presidential candidate eligibility, is part of the Supreme Court. At year's end, Kone Tia remained president of the Supreme Court. The Constitution grants the President of the Republic the power to replace the head of the court once a new parliament is in place.

Military courts do not try civilians. Although there are no appellate courts within the military court system, persons convicted by a military tribunal may petition the Supreme Court to set aside the tribunal's verdict and order a retrial.

In rural areas, traditional institutions often administer justice at the village level, handling domestic disputes and minor land questions in accordance with customary law. Dispute resolution is by extended debate, with no known instance of resort to physical punishment. The formal court system increasingly is superseding these traditional mechanisms. A Grand Mediator settles disputes that cannot be resolved by traditional means. The Constitution specifically provided for the office of Grand Mediator, which is designed to bridge traditional and modern methods of dispute resolution. The President names the Grand Mediator, and Mathieu Ekra has been Grand Mediator since his nomination by the Bedie Government.

The law provides for the right to public trial, although key evidence sometimes is given secretly. The presumption of innocence and the right of defendants to be present at their trials often are not respected. Those convicted have the right of appeal, although higher courts rarely overturn verdicts. Defendants accused of felonies or capital crimes have the right to legal counsel, and the judicial system provides for court-appointed attorneys; however, no free legal assistance is available, except infrequently when members of the bar provide pro bono advice to defendants for limited time periods. In April 1999, the bar began operating a telephone hotline for free legal advice from volunteer attorneys. In November 1999, the president of the bar announced that the bar would not continue to provide free legal assistance to poor accused persons who are tried by a civil or criminal court if the Government did not furnish lawyers' transportation and lodging expenses. The bar has more than 200 members normally available to give free legal advice; however, lawyers are no longer providing free legal assistance to poor defendants since their expenses are not paid. In practice many defendants cannot afford private counsel, and court-appointed attorneys are not available readily. Unlike in the previous year, security forces allowed lawyers' access to their clients during the year 2001.

In previous years, members of the military interfered with court cases and attempted to intimidate judges. They also intervened directly in labor disputes, sometimes arresting and intimidating parties. There were no reports of the military attempting to influence court cases during the year 2001.


As in most Third World countries, prison conditions in Côte d'Ivoire were harsh. Prisons often were crowded, dietary conditions were poor, and medical and sanitation facilities were minimal. Family members were encouraged to bring food to prisoners to supplement the meager prison diets. Prisons served as punitive and custodial facilities rather than as rehabilitative institutions. Visits by prisoners' attorneys were permitted, but the vast majority of inmates could not afford legal assistance. The few court-appointed lawyers could not effectively represent the large numbers of persons assigned to them. There was virtually no vocational training, and although prisoners routinely performed labor, like cleaning public markets or maintaining roads, they did little or no gainful work. Prison staffs and guard forces were small relative to the inmate population, had minimum education and professional training, and could scarcely maintain control of the inmates and prison facilities. In July 1983, for example, a group of armed Burkinabé made a night raid on the large prison in Bouaké and freed forty-five of their countrymen.

The prison population in 1966 was 3,754 inmates, of whom 2,953 had been sentenced and 801 were accused but not yet convicted or sentenced. By the early 1970s, the prison population had increased sharply to between 5,000 and 7,000 inmates. The two largest prisons, at Yopougon near Abidjan and at Bouaké, accounted for about one-half the total prison population. The former facility had about 1,100 inmates, and the latter had between 1,600 and 2,000. Ten years later, the number of inmates in the Bouaké prison was estimated at 1,400, and by 1985 the total number of convicted prisoners in the country had doubled to some 13,000. A large proportion (perhaps even a substantial majority) of the inmates in Ivoirian penal institutions were expatriate Africans from neighboring countries. If the 1966 prison population figures are representative of a fairly stable ratio of inmates awaiting sentence to those actually serving sentences, then Côte d'Ivoire compared very favorably with the Third World norm in which the majority of prisoners were awaiting trial because of the judicial backlog.

Periodically, Houphouët-Boigny granted wholesale amnesties to prisoners. For example, in October 1975 he pardoned about 5,000 common law prisoners serving prison terms for embezzlement and theft. At the same time, he pardoned many political prisoners, including 145 who had been implicated in the Gagnoa uprising of 1970 and 12 soldiers who had been held since the 1973 coup plot. Ten years later, on December 7, 1985, in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Côte d'Ivoire's independence, the president ordered the release of nearly 10,000 of the country's prisoners who were not incarcerated for violent crimes or armed robbery.

Currently, even though prison deaths have declined, harsh and life threatening conditions still result in fatalities during the year 2001. There were reportedly 200 prisoner fatalities during the year 2001. Problems include overcrowding, malnutrition, a high incidence of infectious disease, and lack of treatment facilities and medications in sufficient quantities. In May 2001, the MACA held 3,600 prisoners, although it was designed to hold only 1,500. Many prisoners escape every year, especially outside Abidjan. During the year 2001, overcrowding decreased; however, living conditions worsened because many prison buildings are in a state of physical decay, and the Government lacks sufficient funds to upgrade or maintain the 33 prisons. There is a severe shortage of beds, and many prisoners sleep on the floor. The Government allocates each prisoner $.20 (120 CFA francs) per day for food; with the financial help of international NGO's, prisoners have created vegetable gardens around most prisons with to supplement their insufficient food ration. HIV/AIDS, diarrhea, and tuberculosis also reportedly are significant causes of death. On September 26, 2001, PANA News Service reported that cholera had killed 40 prisoners at the Man civilian prison. In September the prisoners from Man prison sent a petition of complaint to President Gbagbo criticizing the poor treatment, poor conditions, and the daily rations of corn porridge that allegedly caused diarrhea and led to the cholera outbreak, which resulted in 160 deaths during the year 2001. In 2000 the Director of Penitentiary Administration stated that the death rate at the MACA had dropped due to improvements to the sanitation and health care systems. Improvements were financed jointly by the Government, Doctors Without Borders, and World Doctors. On June 5, the administration of the country's 33 prisons went on strike.

As of year 2001, prison conditions for women and children remained especially difficult. Female prisoners are segregated from male prisoners and are housed in a separate building that uses female guards. That building can hold up to 120 residents, and as of May 2001, there were 93 women, including 13 juveniles between the ages of 17 and 18. The women are divided into two groups: one cell is for smokers and one for nonsmokers. During the year 2001, there were no reports that guards raped female prisoners; however, there still were reports that female prisoners engaged in sexual relations with their wardens in exchange for food and more privileges. There still are no health facilities for women. Pregnant prisoners go to hospitals to give birth and then return to prison with their babies. Among the 93 women in detention at MACA in May, some were pregnant (before being jailed) and some others were living in prison with their babies. The penitentiary administration accepts no responsibility for the care or feeding of the infants; the women receive help from local NGO's such as L'Amour en Action and the International Catholic Office for Children (BICE), a Catholic association that promotes children's rights. During the year 2001, BICE removed more than 30 children from the prison and placed them with family members or foster families. BICE also provided female inmates with food, medical care, clothing, soap, and other necessities. BICE constructed a multipurpose room for pregnant women, mothers, and children.

Juvenile offenders are held separately from adults. At year's end 2001, 170 juveniles ages 13 to 17, including 11 girls, were in detention. According to a report published in a local newspaper, in 2000: Approximately 2,500 children spent time in the country's 33 prisons; 1,747 children were treated in the prisons' health centers; and 424 children were treated for malaria, 227 for worms, 168 for wounds, 218 for chest infections, and 197 for diarrhea. During the year 2001, BICE began teaching juvenile prisoners trades, such as sewing, carpentry, gardening, house painting, and drawing, in five workshops.

Pretrial detainees are held with convicted prisoners.

The Government permits access to prisons by local and international NGO's that seek to provide food and medical care, as well as spiritual and moral support to prisoners. In addition to BICE, humanitarian NGO's, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Prisoners Without Borders, Doctors Without Borders, World Doctors, and local NGO's such as Action Justice, French Speaking Countries Outreach (FSCO), and International Prisons' Friendship had access to the prisons in Abidjan and up country. However, none of these NGO's monitor human rights conditions in the prisons. The LIDHO and the MIDH, which monitor human rights conditions in prisons, do not have authorization to visit prisons without advance notice; LIDHO and MIDH usually must write to the prison warden if they want to visit inmates. Wardens rarely grant approval on the first request. However, LIDHO and MIDH did not visit the MACA during the year 2001 because the overcrowding problem temporarily was alleviated, and conditions had improved somewhat following the December 1999 release of all inmates in MACA and the intervention of numerous international and local humanitarian and religious NGO's.


Representatives of the Ivoirian Association for the Defense of Women (AIDF) state that spousal abuse (usually wife beating) occurs frequently and often leads to divorce. A 1998 AIDF survey found that many women refused to discuss their experience of domestic violence; of women who completed the AIDF interview process, nearly 90 percent had been beaten or struck on at least one occasion. Doctors state that they rarely see the victims of domestic violence. A severe social stigma is attached to female victims of domestic violence, who are shamed for their presumed bad behavior and need of correction. Neighbors often intervene in a domestic quarrel to protect a woman who is the known object of physical abuse. The courts and police view domestic violence as a family problem unless serious bodily harm is inflicted, or the victim lodges a complaint, in which case they may initiate criminal proceedings. However, a victim's own parents often urge withdrawal of a complaint because of the shame that attaches to the entire family. The Government does not collect statistics on rape or other physical abuse of women. The Government has no clear policy regarding spousal abuse beyond what is contained in the civil code. The law forbids and provides criminal penalties for forced or early marriage and sexual harassment, but says nothing about spousal abuse.

Women's advocacy groups have protested the indifference of authorities to female victims of violence and called attention to domestic violence and FGM. The groups also reported that women who are the victims of rape or domestic violence often are ignored when they attempt to bring the violence to the attention of the police. In July 1999, the AIDF launched a petition drive to pressure the authorities to enact and enforce laws against domestic violence, especially spousal abuse; 18,000 signatures had been collected by the end of 1999. In 2000 AIDF opened a house for battered girls and wives, which reportedly received approximately 18 battered women per week. In December 2000, AIDF president Constance Yai accused security forces and FPI militants of raping 8 or 9 women during the December 2000 confrontations between members of the RDR and security forces. Yai asked the Government to identify and punish the rapists. The Minister of Interior and Security declared on December 28, 2000, that only 3 women had been raped, and contrary to Yai's accusations, that the rapes did occur on the grounds of the police academy. Aided by another women's NGO, the Republican Sisters, AIDF continues to seek justice on behalf of the rape victims. The AIDF also opposes forced marriage and defends the rights of female domestic workers. In July 2000, AIDF established a national committee with members of national and international institutions in Abidjan to fight violence against women. The committee's objective is to define programs and actions to reduce social inequalities and to make recommendations on combating violence against women. In March Henriette Lagou, Yai's replacement as Minister of Family, Women, and Children's Affairs, reported that women looking for help with family problems, such as forced marriage and domestic violence, approached the committee every day; a few committee members visited the families to mediate. If discussions are not successful, the committee refers the matter to the police and the justice system. The committee could not respond to urgent calls from the countryside because it did not have transportation.

FGM, which is condemned widely by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is a serious problem. The law specifically forbids FGM and makes those who perform it subject to criminal penalties of imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of roughly $650 to $3,500 (360,000 to 2 million CFA francs); double penalties apply for medical practitioners. FGM is practiced particularly among the rural populations in the north and west and to a lesser extent in the center. The procedure usually is performed on young girls or at puberty as part of a rite of passage. It is almost always done far from modern medical facilities, and techniques and hygiene do not meet modern medical standards. According to the World Health Organization and the AIDF, as many as 60 percent of women have undergone FGM. The practice is becoming less popular, but in places it has continued. On June 11, FGM was performed on approximately 100 girls in Silakro, in the northern department of Touba, despite the village nurse's strong opposition. Approximately the same number of girls underwent FGM in the western department of Guiglo during the year 2001. In June Yai visited the regions where FGM still is practiced and reminded practitioners and parents of the dangers of the practice and its illegality. In the summer, the Manh-Boya theater troupe campaigned against FGM in Abidjan using dance and theater.

As a result of the active campaign against FGM undertaken by the Government and NGO's, several practitioners were arrested in the north for performing excisions. In previous years, arrests were made only following the death of the FGM victim. In January one woman still was serving a sentence at the MACA for having performed FGM.

Women's advocacy organizations continued to sponsor campaigns against forced marriage, marriage of minors, patterns of inheritance that exclude women, and other practices considered harmful to women and girls.


The penalty for statutory rape or attempted rape of either a girl or a boy aged 15 years or younger is a 1- to 3-year prison sentence and a fine of $140 to $1,400 (100,000 to million CFA francs).

There are large populations of street children in the cities. The Fraternite Matin newspaper reported in 2000 that the number of street children in the country was 200,000, of which 50,000 were in Abidjan. Some children are employed as domestics and are subject to sexual abuse, harassment, and other forms of mistreatment by their employers, according to the AIDF, the BICE, the Ministry of Family, Women, and Children's Affairs, and press reports.

In 1996 the Government announced a series of measures aimed at reducing the population of street children. These steps include holding parents legally and financially responsible for their abandoned children and the development of training centers where children can learn a trade; however, parents are not made accountable in practice. A training center opened in Dabou in July 1999; however, the Ministry of Family, Women, and Children's Affairs reports that many street children apparently are reluctant to stay in a center where they earn no money and are subject to strict discipline. A forum of approximately 15 NGO's, such as Children of Africa and the BICE, work with approximately 8,000 street children. NGO centers, including those run by BICE, are similar to half-way houses, paying the children a small amount of money while teaching them vocational and budgeting skills. NGO centers are more flexible and individualized in their approach and have had more success with the children.

FGM is performed commonly on girls.

Children regularly are trafficked into the country from neighboring countries and sold into forced labor. However, the Government is cooperating with neighboring countries, international organizations, and NGO's, to combat trafficking in persons. The country's cities and farms still provide ample opportunities for traffickers, especially of children and women. The informal labor sectors are not regulated under current labor laws, so domestics, most non-industrial farm laborers and those who work in the country's vast network of street shops and restaurants remain outside most government protection.

Child labor, including forced child labor, is a problem.


The law does not prohibit trafficking in persons, and there were credible reports that it occurs; however, the Government prosecutes traffickers under existing laws against the kidnaping of children. The country is a source and destination country for women and children.

Women and children are trafficked to African, European, and Middle Eastern countries. Children are trafficked to the country from Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Mauritania for indentured or domestic servitude, farm labor, and sexual exploitation. Women principally are trafficked to the country from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, and Asian countries. The extent of the problem was unknown. The country's cities and farms still provide ample opportunities for traffickers, especially of children and women. The informal labor sectors are not regulated under current labor laws, so domestics, most nonindustrial farm laborers and those who work in the country's vast network of street shops and restaurants remain outside most government protection.

Media reports continue to expose the widespread practice of importing and indenturing Malian boys for field work on Ivoirian farms and plantations under abusive conditions. For example, children recruited by Malians in the border town of Sikasso are promised easy and lucrative jobs in Ivory Coast, transported across the border, and then sold to other Malians who disperse them throughout the farms and plantations of the central and western regions. Many are under 12 years of age, are placed in indentured servitude for $140 (100,000 CFA francs), work 12-hour days under grueling conditions for $135 to $189 (95,000 to 125,000 CFA francs) per year, and locked at night in crowded sheds, with their clothing confiscated. The Governments of Mali and Ivory Coast confirmed these reports in a joint February 2000 press conference with UNICEF. The Government of Mali and UNICEF took steps to halt this trafficking and repatriate the children in Mali; more than 420 Malian children were returned to their families during the year 2001; 300 of the repatriated children had been working on small farms. It is estimated that thousands of Malian children work on Ivoirian cocoa and coffee plantations. The number is difficult to estimate because many Malian adults also worked on Ivoirian farms and plantations in the same area under difficult conditions, and no thorough survey has been conducted; however, the international NGO Save the Children estimated that approximately 15,000 trafficked children are working on plantations in the country.

During the year 2001, the Minister of Employment and the Ministry of Family, Women, and Children's Affairs continued working with Malian authorities to prevent cross-border child trafficking. In August the Ivoirian Minister of Family, Women, and Children's Affairs and the Malian Minister for Women, Family, and Children's Promotion met in Sikasso, Mali, to discuss trafficking issues. The Ministers figure refuted the earlier estimates that 15,000 Malian children were working on plantations in Ivory Coast. In August 2000, the Governments of Ivory Coast and Mali signed the Bouake agreement, which recognized the need to increase the repatriation of Malian children from Ivory Coast. During the year 2001, the Malian Government opened a rest and transit center in Sikasso for children being repatriated from Ivory Coast.

Children also are trafficked into the country from countries other than Mali. During the year 2001, there were reports of children, some as young as 6 years of age, being trafficked from Benin to work as agricultural laborers and maids. Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, and Mauritania are other sources of child labor. The Government discussed a labor agreement with the Governments of Togo, Burkina Faso, and Mali but had not signed an accord by year's end.

Generally it is accepted that children are regularly trafficked into the country from neighboring countries and put to work in the informal sector in exchange for finder's fees.


Ivory Coast is a transit point for narcotics from Asia and Latin America destined for European and, to a lesser extent, North American markets. Domestic production is minimal and limited to cannabis, but consumption of hard drugs is increasing. Police counter-narcotics efforts are hampered as much by low priorities as by lack of resources. Assistance needs are greatest in the training area. Major European and Asian donors and the U.S. are working toward a coordinated response. Ivory Coast is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

Abidjan serves as a major West African financial center and as a regional hub for international airline travel and ocean freight. Drugs and money are rumored to pass through Ivory Coast, both to and from Europe and the Middle East, but police seizures are usually small and arrests have focused on local sale and consumption. Retail availability now includes heroin and cocaine as well as cannabis, and the consumer market among disaffected youth is apparently growing. The government of Ivory Coast (GOCI) has yet to mount a coordinated defense of Ivorian society against drugs and drug-related corruption.

Cannabis and cocaine seizures and drug related arrests are running more or less parallel to recent years' results. Though one German citizen was arrested, law enforcement efforts continue to focus on minor traffickers of West African origin. Reputed major traffickers are of Middle Eastern and European extraction. Sources continue to point to Abidjan's Shia Lebanese community, as well as Ghanaian and Nigerian citizens, in connection with both drug and small arms trafficking in the region.

There were no significant arrests and/or prosecutions for drug-related corruption in 1998. Law enforcement efforts in this area continue to receive very low priority.

Cannabis is grown in limited quantities, primarily for local consumption, in the more remote parts of the southern half of the country. Crops are frequently concealed among cocoa plantings while maturing and then transported overland, concealed in shipments of coffee or cocoa, to Abidjan and other distribution centers.

The National Drug Police continue to destroy any illicit plantings they may find, but they do not keep records of crop size and yield.

Herbicides are not in general use against drug-related crops, and aerial application would probably be ineffective, given the small size, remoteness, and proximity to food crops in typical cannabis cultivation.

Abidjan's Houphouet-Boigny airport continues in use as a transit point for flows of cocaine and heroin to destinations in Europe and beyond. The notorious Middle East Airline (MEA) flights between Sao Paulo, Abidjan and Beirut were terminated in 1998 due to withdrawal of landing permission by the Brazilian government. However, the Beirut-Abidjan-Beirut flights continue. Ivory Coast's two major seaports at Abidjan and San Pedro reportedly remain in frequent use as transit points. The lagoon route between Ivory Coast and Ghana remains popular, as do overland road routes. No reliable figures exist to assess current flows or to compare those to past amounts.

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Dr. Robert Winslow
San Diego State University