To the New Forces and the Government of Côte d’Ivoire

  • Publicly acknowledge and condemn the sexual abuses committed by your agents, alongside violations of international human rights and humanitarian law including extrajudicial execution, torture, physical abuse, and extortion of civilians.
  • Thoroughly investigate all allegations of sexual violence and prosecute individuals against whom there is sufficient evidence of such abuses in compliance with international standards of fair trial.
  • Improve the response of law enforcement entities to sexual and gender-based violence. Recruit and train more female law enforcement officers to respond to the needs of victims of sexual violence and gender-based violence. Provide training to members of the security forces on human rights and international humanitarian law, with a focus on women’s human rights and gender-based crimes. Create specialized units within law enforcement entities to respondto sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Improve the response of the judiciary to sexual and gender-based violence, including recruiting and training more female judicial staff, developing specialized teams for sexual violence and gender-based violence, and providing training on women’s rights and sexual violence to members of judiciary in government-held areas and to New Forces authorities responsible for adjudicating cases in rebel-held areas.
  • Create an Ombudsman office for sexual exploitation of children to investigate reported incidents of sexual abuse or exploitation of children and monitor appropriate disciplinary and judicial responses.
  • Immediately allow the ICC Office of the Prosecutor to conduct a mission to Côte d’Ivoire to collect information necessary to determine the possibility of opening an investigation into serious crimes committed there, including sexual abuse committed by all parties to the conflict. Provide any cooperation to the ICC necessary to facilitate such a mission.
  • Cooperate with NGOs’ and Opération des Nations Unies en Côte d’Ivoire (United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, or ONUCI) investigations of sexual violence. Support, cooperate with, and create a favorable environment for independent human rights monitoring.
  • Assist the National Inter-Ministerial Task Force for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CNLVFF), to more effectively implement their mandate. [The CNLVFF was founded in July 2000, and is mandated to coordinate all government initiatives responding to sexual violence, and to provide enhanced social, medical, and legal services for victims of sexual and gender-based violence.]
  • Launch a nationwide public awareness campaign on sexual and domestic violence against women to highlight the extent of the problem, consequences for survivors, strategies to reduce exploitation, and judicial consequences for perpetrators of exploitation and abuse; to change prevailing negative societal attitudes; and to educate the general population on women’s human rights.
  • Comply fully with Côte d’Ivoire’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Implement the Family and Social Services Ministry 2006 Action Plan, implement these obligations as a matter of urgency, and strengthen all legal protections afforded to women. Take the necessary steps to revoke or revise existing laws that discriminate on the basis of gender and ensure that they meet international human rights standards. Provide training on these new laws for the judiciary, police, prosecutors, and staff of local courts.
  • Enhance women’s participation in all aspects of planning and implementation of the peace process and reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. Ensure that women are in a position to design and lead responses to sexual and gender-based abuse, and to shape violence prevention programs.
  • Give orders to combatants to release all women and girls abducted during the armed conflict who continue to be held. Provide these women and girls with the necessary social and economic options to enable them to leave these often abusive relationships.
  • Enact laws that allow women to have access to voluntary and safe abortions. These measures should include the repeal of penal code provisions that criminalize abortion, especially those that punish women who have had an induced abortion. In order to allow for the actual enjoyment of the right to access a legal and safe abortion, the state may need to provide abortion services free of charge for some women and girls. In Côte d’Ivoire this is certainly the case for survivors of rape or incest.

To Medical Service Providers

(The Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, the FN health authorities, and independent medical service providers)

  • Eliminate costs for medical certificates for rape victims.
  • The Director of the National Program for Reproductive Health and Family Planning (DCPNSR/PF) must disseminate a protocol for treatment of rape victims to all health centers, which should include education about post-exposure prophylaxis drugs and training on the clinical management of rape.
  • Establish gynecological health clinics nationwide for women and girls that can provide information on testing, voluntary counseling and treatment for HIV/AIDS and also for other sexually transmitted infections. Provide mobile health teams if health infrastructure is either unavailable or inadequate.
  • Train traditional healers on treatment for sexual violence.

To the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

  • Provide victims of sexual violence who fled their homes in Côte d’Ivoire and are living in the subregion with necessary assistance. Make available social and economic options needed to enable women and girls who were held as sex slaves to leave these relationships if they are still with their captors.

To ONUCI and France’s “Licorne” Peacekeeping Force

  • Authorize the ONUCI human rights investigators to engage in a comprehensive investigation on sexual violence and women’s rights, with additional funds and support as needed.
  • Strengthen in number and capacity the military observers and liaisons and the vital human rights monitoring component of ONUCI, with a focus on sexual violence and women’s rights.
  • Ensure that any drawdown or withdrawal of international peacekeepers be done only once it has been ascertained that Ivorian security forces are positioned and able to provide for civilian protection in those areas in which the drawdown or withdrawal is contemplated.

To the United Nations Security Council

  • Further the work of the UN Sanctions Committee and immediately activate travel and economic sanctions against additional individuals identified as responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. South Africa, China, and Russia must review their positions which have thus far fostered impunity with no clear positive impact on furthering the peace process.
  • Expedite the publication of the 2004 report of the UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations committed since 2002, and meet to discuss its findings and recommendations.

To the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU)

  • ECOWAS as a whole and individual member states adjacent to Côte d’Ivoire must take all necessary steps to ensure that former fighters release all Ivorian women and girls abducted during the armed conflict who continue to be held.
  • ECOWAS and the AU should unequivocally condemn sexual violence by all parties, call for investigations and prosecutions, and call for the respect of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

To the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor

  • Continue to press to conduct a mission to Côte d’Ivoire to obtain information necessary to assess the possibility of an ICC investigation.
  • Issue a clear public message that the ICC is monitoring abuses, including sexual violence, committed in Côte d’Ivoire, that perpetrators of serious crimes under international law must be held to account, and that national authorities should promptly commence appropriate national prosecutions for serious crimes.

To NGOs and United Nations agencies such as the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

  • Improve collaboration of partners working on sexual and gender-based violence, including representatives from the government, international NGOs, and local organizations. Organize regular meetings for all active institutions to share information and coordinate programs.
  • Develop services for survivors of sexual violence including both medical and social rehabilitation programs. It is vital to conduct needs assessment in targeted communities to determine skills, knowledge, and level of services provided to victims of sexual violence, identifying all potential local partners; to upgrade counseling and psychosocial support to survivors; to support social centers run by local NGOs (especially centers for women rejected by their families); and to promote income-generation and economic opportunities for women.