Trapped Between Two Wars

Violence Against Civilians in Western Côte d'Ivoire

This 55-page report documents widespread abuses against civilians in fighting following a September 2002 army mutiny. The abuses include summary executions, sexual violence against women and girls, and looting of civilian property by Ivorian government troops, government-supported civilian militias, and by the rebel groups. Both sides have recruited Liberian fighters, some of them from refugee camps in Côte d'Ivoire. Côte d'Ivoire's eight-month conflict was characterized by limited direct fighting between the nominal warring parties, but serious and sometimes systematic abuses against civilians. The new report documents these abuses in the west of the country, where tensions over land and proximity to Liberia exacerbated the conflict. The report calls for an international commission of inquiry to investigate abuses and recommend measures to bring perpetrators to justice, and for an extensive field-based human rights monitoring presence. It also calls on the Ivorian government to immediately stop backing the militias.

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