Is Ivory Coast getting real justice?

Writing in the World Policy Journal, Robbie Corey-Boulet argues that post-conflict prosecutions in Ivory Coast, as pursued domestically and by the International Criminal Court, have a strong whiff of victor’s justice: Instead of receiving constructive transitional justice, Ivorians have so far received a form of justice that only legitimizes the new Ouattara regime. This raises ...

Writing in the World Policy Journal, Robbie Corey-Boulet argues that post-conflict prosecutions in Ivory Coast, as pursued domestically and by the International Criminal Court, have a strong whiff of victor's justice:

Instead of receiving constructive transitional justice, Ivorians have so far received a form of justice that only legitimizes the new Ouattara regime. This raises the question of just what kind of behavior such “victor’s justice” might enable. The ongoing abuses in the west—arbitrary abductions, beatings, and killings—are the early answers. Here, after all, were military forces suspected of involvement in atrocities committed during the post-election violence, and instead of being prosecuted, they have been given free rein to commit new outrages while ostensibly combating threats against the state.

At the moment, former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo is the sole individual being prosecuted by the ICC as part of its investigation of violence in that country. Corey-Boulet believes that will change eventually, but worries that official cooperation may end as soon as the court shifts focus:

Writing in the World Policy Journal, Robbie Corey-Boulet argues that post-conflict prosecutions in Ivory Coast, as pursued domestically and by the International Criminal Court, have a strong whiff of victor’s justice:

Instead of receiving constructive transitional justice, Ivorians have so far received a form of justice that only legitimizes the new Ouattara regime. This raises the question of just what kind of behavior such “victor’s justice” might enable. The ongoing abuses in the west—arbitrary abductions, beatings, and killings—are the early answers. Here, after all, were military forces suspected of involvement in atrocities committed during the post-election violence, and instead of being prosecuted, they have been given free rein to commit new outrages while ostensibly combating threats against the state.

At the moment, former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo is the sole individual being prosecuted by the ICC as part of its investigation of violence in that country. Corey-Boulet believes that will change eventually, but worries that official cooperation may end as soon as the court shifts focus:

Though all indictments and potential indictments at The Hague so far are on Gbagbo’s side, there is little doubt that ICC prosecutors intend to indict Ouattara loyalists eventually. The big question is whether Ouattara’s government will cooperate and foster a process of balanced justice at home so that the courts are seen as even-handed at every level.

David Bosco is an associate professor at Indiana University's School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of books on the U.N. Security Council and the International Criminal Court, and is at work on a new book about governance of the oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

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