- For defenders
- How can I help?
Human rights defenders in Côte d'Ivoire operate in the context of a country in transition and still facing challenges from the recent past as well as the current difficult reconciliation process. The conflict and the separation of the country into two areas since 2002, the south controlled by the government and the north controlled by the armed coalition the New Forces, has created a climate of insecurity for human rights defenders and an environment where attacks and violence have remained unpunished.
Human rights defenders in Côte d'Ivoire are active on a wide range of civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights including women's rights, minority rights, child rights, discrimination, human rights education, documentation of the violence and abuses linked to the conflict, as well as monitoring of the reconciliation process.
While human rights defenders are not targeted systematically, they often face threats, intimidation and attacks including raids on the offices and physical assaults. Intimidation and harassment particularly increased during election periods, when defenders denouncing abuses were specifically targeted.
Freedom of expression has been limited and pro-government groups, militia and the police have harassed and at times attacked journalists and the premises of several newspapers. Independent and opposition newspapers and local radio stations have at times been banned or suspended. Human rights defenders publishing critical reports are also exposed to harassment, in particular when they address issues perceived as sensitive or political.
The government recently decriminalised press offences. However, no steps have so far been taken to harmonise the Penal Code with the decision on decriminalisation. As a result, journalists and human rights defenders remain exposed to the risk of prosecution. The National Audiovisual Communication Council (CNCA) is the public media regulatory and monitoring body. The CNCA is under the sphere of influence of the government and has been used to monitor independent and opposition media.
Instances of violence against trade union activists and human rights organisations working on labour rights have also been reported.
While the government has in some cases introduced legislation increasing the space for human rights work, the overall domestic human rights system, including the National Human Rights Commission, remain weak.