September 30, 2011

IV. Key Leaders Implicated

The prohibitions of war crimes and crimes against humanity are among the most fundamental prohibitions in international criminal law. Under the Rome Statute of the ICC, crimes against humanity can be committed during peace or armed conflict and consist of specific acts committed on a widespread or systematic basis as part of an “attack on a civilian population,” meaning that there is some degree of planning or policy by the authorities. Such acts include murder, rape, and persecution of a group on political, ethnic, or national grounds.[261] War crimes in armed conflict not international in nature include murdering people not taking an active part in hostilities, including detained members of the armed forces, and intentionally directing attacks against civilians who are not directly participating in hostilities.[262] When crimes against humanity and war crimes occur, people in command authority who should have been aware of the crime and failed to prevent it or submit it for investigation and prosecution can be held criminally accountable.[263]

Based on its fieldwork, Human Rights Watch has identified the following people as implicated in responsibility—either for their direct participation or for command responsibility—for the grave crimes committed during the post-election period:

Gbagbo Camp

Laurent Gbagbo – The former president was the commander-in-chief of armed forces that committed war crimes and likely crimes against humanity. He appointed as Minister of Youth his longtime ally Charles Blé Goudé, providing a direct link to the Young Patriots, who engaged in widespread killings along ethnic lines. Despite clear evidence of grave crimes committed by his military and militia supporters, Gbagbo neither denounced nor took steps to prevent or investigate the crimes. When his presidential palace was overtaken by the Republican Forces, they found an enormous supply of heavy weapons—many of the same types that had been used in indiscriminate attacks that killed civilians. Gbagbo was arrested on April 11 by the Republican Forces; he was charged by prosecutor Simplice Koffi on August 18 with economic crimes, including embezzlement, robbery, and misappropriation.[264] He is in preventative detention.

Charles Blé Goudé – He was the long-time head of the Young Patriots, a militia group implicated in hundreds of killings in Abidjan alone. His militiamen often worked closely with elite security force units in targeting Ouattara supporters. Rather than dissuade his followers from violence, Blé Goudé made speeches that could be interpreted as inciting such violence. On February 25, for example, in a speech broadcast widely, Blé Goudé called on his followers to set up neighborhood roadblocks and “denounce” foreigners—an explosive term the Gbagbo camp used to signify northern Ivorians and West African immigrants. Immediately following this call, Human Rights Watch documented a sharp increase in violence by the Young Patriots, generally along ethnic or religious lines. Human Rights Watch believes Blé Goudé to be credibly implicated in crimes against humanity. He is believed to be hiding in Ghana, although reports have previously placed him in Benin and the Gambia.[265] On July 1, prosecutor Simplice Koffi announced that authorities were seeking international arrest warrants against Blé Goudé for his post-election crimes.[266]

General Philippe Mangou – The head of the armed forces under former President Gbagbo, Mangou oversaw troops who appear to have committed war crimes and likely crimes against humanity. These crimes were widely publicized in Ivorian and international media, yet Mangou took no meaningful action to prevent further crimes or to investigate those responsible for repeatedly targeting Ouattara supporters. On March 21, Mangou appeared with Blé Goudé at military headquarters to address several thousand Young Patriots—already implicated in scores of killings and rapes—who heeded Blé Goudé’s call to defend the country. Mangou was quoted by numerous outlets as promising—as youth chanted “we want Kalashnikovs”—that the army would take “everyone, without regard to qualifications or age. The only thing that counts is the will and determination of each person…. Everyone will be enrolled in the army.”[267] The Young Patriots would continue to commit atrocities in subsequent weeks. General Mangou was briefly maintained by Ouattara as the army head, then replaced General Soumaïla Bakayoko on July 7.

General Guiai Bi Poin – The head of the security force unit CECOS (Centre de commandement des opérations de sécurité), which was implicated in enforced disappearances, sexual violence, indiscriminate shelling that killed civilians, and the violent suppression of demonstrations. Taken as a whole, for both their widespread and systematic nature, the crimes committed under his command likely constitute crimes against humanity. Bi Poin never denounced the crimes, much less took efforts to investigate which soldiers were responsible—despite repeated identification of CECOS’s strong role in attacks on Ouattara supporters by human rights organizations and Ivorian and international media. Victims and witnesses identified them by the clearly marked “CECOS” on vehicles. The neighborhoods of Abobo and Koumassi suffered particularly, as both areas had “Camp Commando” bases where CECOS forces were stationed. A longtime Gbagbo ally, Bi Poin’s forces were some of the last to surrender. A military prosecutor brought Bi Poin in for questioning on May 13, but released him on the promise to appear when summoned.[268] Bi Poin was not among the 57 military charged in early August and indeed took part in a June 22 gathering of military personnel tasked with designing the new Ivorian army.[269] However, after the alleged discovery of a mass grave at the gendarme academy where Bi Poin was the commander, Bi Poin was arrested on August 20. Five days later, a prosecutor charged him with “economic crimes” and placed him in preventative detention in Abidjan.[270]

General Bruno Dogbo Blé – The head of the Republican Guard, which was implicated in enforced disappearances, the violent suppression of demonstrations, and the persecution of West African immigrants. Taken as a whole, the crimes committed under his command likely constitute crimes against humanity. Treichville neighborhood, where the Republican Guard camp is located in Abidjan, suffered particularly. As with Bi Poin, despite that his forces’ crimes were widely publicized by human rights groups and the media, Dogbo Blé never denounced the crimes, much less took efforts to investigate which soldiers were responsible. Dogbo Blé was arrested by the Republican Forces on April 15, and, at time of writing, is being held in a Korhogo military camp. A military prosecutor charged him on August 11 for his role in violent crimes committed during the post-election violence.[271]

“Bob Marley” – A Liberian mercenary commander who fought for Gbagbo in the west, he is implicated in two massacres and other killings that left over 120 dead, including men, women, and children. He was present for and helped orchestrate the attacks, according to victims and witnesses present, in which West African immigrants and northern Ivorians were targeted on ethnic grounds. He was arrested in Liberia in May 2011 and, at time of writing, was being held in Monrovia while awaiting charges for “mercenarism.”[272]

RTI Director General Pierre Brou Amessan – The head of the Gbagbo-controlled RTI television, he consistently oversaw programs that incited violence against Ouattara supporters and foreign nationals, calling on true Ivorians to “denounce” and “clean out” foreigners. Large-scale violence against perceived Gbagbo supporters often followed. The station also encouraged attacks against UN personnel and vehicles, and such attacks occurred repeatedly throughout the crisis. Under the Rome Statute, war crimes include “[i]ntentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a … peacekeeping mission… as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians or civilian objects under the international law of armed conflict.”[273]

Denis Maho Glofiéhi – Generally known as “Maho,” he was the long-time head of pro-Gbagbo militia groups in the west. In July 2010, he told Human Rights Watch that he commanded 25,000 fighters in his Front de Libération du Grand Ouest (Far West Liberation Force, or FLGO).[274] Militiamen believed to be under Maho’s command engaged in killings both in the west and in Abidjan—where he was seen during the crisis’s final months, often together with Blé Goudé. Maho is believed to have fled from Yopougon before the Republican Forces took control. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Ouattara Camp

Captain Eddie Médi (also spelled, by some Ivorian media, Eddy Médy) – The commander of the Republican Forces March offensive from Toulepleu through Guiglo, a path along which scores of Guéré men, women, and children were killed, at least some 20 women were raped, and more than 10 villages were burned to the ground. Credible reports indicate that killings by forces under his command continued in the months after consolidating control, with Médi basing himself out of Bloléquin during these “clean-up” operations.[275] No credible action appears to have been taken by Médi either to prevent the crimes or to punish those responsible in his ranks. At time of writing, Médi remained the commander in Bloléquin.

Commander Fofana Losséni – On March 10, Soro acknowledged him as leader of the “pacification of the far west,” identifying him as Médi’s boss and the overall commander of the Republican Forces March offensive in the west. Generally known as “Loss,” he was the Forces Nouvelles zone commander in Man. Soldiers under his command took control of Duékoué the morning of March 29 and proceeded to play a key role in the massacre of hundreds in Carrefour neighborhood. No credible action appears to have been taken by Loss either to prevent the crimes or to punish those responsible in his ranks. At time of writing, he remains a Republican Forces commander and has, according to Ivorian media reports, been named a deputy commander in an elite Ivorian force that is to be trained in France.[276]

Commander Chérif Ousmane – During the final battle for Abidjan, he was the head of the Republican Forces operations in Yopougon, where scores of perceived Gbagbo supporters were extrajudicially executed. A soldier in his “Guépard Company” directly implicated Ousmane in ordering the execution of 29 prisoners in early May. Chérif Ousmane was the long-time Forces Nouvelles commander in Bouaké. A 2004 report by the humanitarian news service IRIN implicated Ousmane in overseeing forces who committed extrajudicial executions against Liberian and Sierra Leonean mercenaries.[277] On August 3, 2011, President Ouattara signed a promotion making Chérif Ousmane the second-in-command for presidential security (Groupe de sécurité de la présidence de la République.[278]

Commander Ousmane Coulibaly – The longtime Forces Nouvelles zone commander in Odienné, he oversaw Republican Forces soldiers implicated in torture and extrajudicial killings in Yopougon’s Koweit area. These occurred over several weeks, and no action appears to have been taken by Coulibaly either to prevent the crimes or to punish those responsible. Coulibaly went by the nom de guerre “Ben Laden” (the French spelling of Bin Laden) at that time, but changed it to “Ben le sage” (Ben the wise) as of June 20, 2011. At time of writing, he remains a commanding officer in the Republican Forces.

Not Formally Aligned

Amadé Ouérémi (widely referred to as “Amadé”) – The leader of a group of well-armed Burkinabé in the Mont Peko region of Côte d’Ivoire’s far west, Amadé and his men were identified by multiple witnesses as among the main perpetrators of the March 29 Duékoué massacre in Carrefour neighborhood. Witnesses and residents of the area told both Human Rights Watch and the state-run newspaper Fraternité-Matin that Amadé fought alongside the Republican Forces in Duékoué,[279] though there does not appear to have been a clear chain of command between the two. On August 10, the UN peacekeeping mission collected weapons and munitions from “nearly 90 members” of Amadé’s group.[280] Area residents also told both Human Rights Watch and Fraternité-Matin that Amadé’s men had handed over only a small portion of their guns.[281]

[261] Rome Statute, art. 7.

[262] Rome Statute, art. 8.

[263] Rome Statute, art. 28.

[264]AFP, “Côte d`Ivoire: l`ex-président Gbagbo inculpé de crimes économiques (parquet),” August 18, 2011; Monica Mark, “Former Ivory Coast president charged in violent aftermath of elections,” CNN, August 19, 2011.

[265] “Ivory Coast warrant for Gbagbo ally Ble Goude,” BBC News, July 1, 2011; Jeune Afrique, “Du Bénin au Ghana : sur la trace de Blé Goudé,” June 17, 2011.

[266]AFP, “Côte d`Ivoire: mandats d`arrêt contre Blé Goudé et d`autres pro-Gbagbo,” July 1, 2011.

[267] Germain Dja K, “Des milliers de jeunes prennent d`assaut l`Etat-major – Les recommandations du Gal Philippe Mangou,” L’Inter, March 22, 2011; Y. Gbané, “Le général Philippe Mangou rassure: ‘L’enrôlement dans l’armée est gratuite’”, Le Temps, March 22, 2011. See also AFP, “Abidjan: plusieurs milliers de partisans de Gbagbo pour entrer dans l`armée,” March 21, 2011.

[268] Armand B. Depeyla, “Arrestation et libération du Général Guiai Bi Poin : Ange Kessy explique tout,” Soir Info, May 16, 2011; Armand B. Depeyla, “Aujourd`hui à Korhogo: L’Aide de camp de Gbagbo, Dogbo Blé, Négblé César et Yoro Claude entendus ; Guiai Bi Poin convoqué jeudi,” Soir Info, May 30, 2010.

[269] J.C.C., “Enquête du parquet militaire sur les violences postélectorales / Voici l’identité des 49 militaires, ex-FANCI inculpés,” Le Patriote, July 1, 2011; Assana Niada, “Défense nationale : 2300 volontaires et 8700 Fafn vont intégrer l`armée,” L’Inter, June 25, 2011; Abidjan.net, “Sortie de crise: les militaires se retrouvent a Bassam pour dessiner la nouvelle armée ivoirienne,” June 23, 2011.

[270]Armand B. Depeya, “Situation sécuritaire en Côte d’Ivoire : Le général Guiai Bi Poin mis aux arrêts,” Soir Info, August 22, 2011; Bahi K., “Découverte d’un charnier à l’école de gendarmerie : Ce que Guiai Bi Poin a dit,” Nord-Sud, August 22, 2011; AFP, “Côte d`Ivoire : mandats d`arrêt internationaux contre sept proches de Gbagbo,” August 25, 2011.

[271] J.C.C., “Enquête du parquet militaire sur les violences postélectorales / Voici l’identité des 49 militaires, ex-FANCI inculpés,” Le Patriote, July 1, 2011; Elisée Bolougbeu, “Côte d’Ivoire – Les officiers Boniface Konan, Henri-César Sama, Vagba Faussignaux, Jean Noël Abéhi et 57 ex-Fds inculpés,” afreekelection.com, August 11, 2011; Boris N’Gotta, Événements postélectoraux : Le procès militaire s’ouvre en novembre,” L’Inter, August 12, 2011.

[272] Rukmini Callimachi, Associated Press, Police hold top Liberia mercenary Bob Marley accused in Ivory Coast massacres, June 14, 2011.

[273] Rome Statute, art. 8(b)(iii).

[274]Human Rights Watch interview with Denis Maho Glofiéhi, Guiglo, July 2010.

[275]Rukmini Callimachi, Associated Press, “War over but massacres continue in Ivory Coast,” July 23, 2011.

[276]K. Bahi, “Force spéciale ivoirienne : Tout sur les 200 commandos de Ouattara,” Nord-Sud, September 17, 2011.

[277] IRIN, “COTE D’IVOIRE: Liberian woman commands mercenaries in Korhogo,” January 2, 2004. See also Human Rights Watch, My Heart is Cut, p. 25, footnote 24; Olivier Talles, “Chérif Ousmane : le bras armé d’Alassane Ouattara,” La Croix (France),December 16, 2010.

[278]AFP, “Côte d`Ivoire: des chefs de l`ex-rébellion affectés dans la nouvelle armée,” August 4, 2011.

[279] Human Rights Watch phone interviews with witnesses to killings in Carrefour neighborhood, Duékoué, April 2-3, 2011; Doua Gouly, “Duékoué: Amadé Règne en Maître Absolu Sur Le Mont Péko,” Fraternité-Matin, September 15, 2011.

[280] UN News Centre, “Extrajudicial executions carried out in Côte d’Ivoire, UN reports,” August 11, 2011, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=39283&Cr=Ivoire&Cr1 (accessed September 20, 2011).

[281] Human Rights Watch interviews with residents in Duékoué, Duékoué, September 2011; Doua Gouly, “Duékoué: Amadé Règne en Maître Absolu Sur Le Mont Péko,” Fraternité-Matin, September 15, 2011.