By Sophie van Leeuwen
The ICC has long faced major criticism regarding its investigations in Ivory Coast. Former President Laurent Gbagbo is being held in The Hague, awaiting trial, while crimes reportedly committed by militias supporting the current president, Alassane Ouattara, don’t seem to have been probed.
A balanced investigation into the post-election crisis in Ivory Coast (2010-2011) did take place, according to former ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. But, the current prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said that an inquiry into the alleged crimes committed by pro-Ouattara supporters will only be launched in mid-2015. So where is the Court actually at?
Focusing on Gbagbo
“From the very beginning, the investigations covered the post-electoral violence in Ivory Coast committed by all parties”, explains Pascal Turlan, an advisor to Fatou Bensouda. “However, the probe could not be conducted in parallel and at the same speed.”
According to Turlan, “in 2010, we started investigating the entire crisis. On the basis of the evidence we gathered, we were quickly able to open cases against Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé. There was a lot of information, videos and allegations about the events in Abidjan. These pieces of evidence pointed us fairly quickly to those persons who we believe were responsible for part of the crimes.”
Turlan adds “since we didn’t have sufficient resources to carry out investigations into all the incidents simultaneously, our team focused initially on the Gbagbo case. We had to set priorities.”
The prosecutor has juggle with her resources. “The arrival of Bosco Ntaganda is very good news”, says Talan. “The same holds true for Dominic Ongwen. But each time, we have to allocate more resources to that team, and this creates tensions because our budget is finite.”
Even though the ICC prosecutor works according to her immediate priorities, Turlan says the ICC has already obtained part of the evidence about the other camp, for example, regarding incidents in western Ivory Coast. “We went to the west of the country on several occasions. Now we’re intensifying our investigations into the other parties involved in the post-election violence. The prosecutor has publicly confirmed that in mid-2015, the team will be strengthened. But if Joseph Kony is arrested tomorrow, for instance, we’ll again have to reevaluate our efforts, based on the available funding.”
Another challenge could be the upcoming elections in Ivory Coast, which are scheduled to take place in October of this year. They might disrupt the investigation plans, says Turlan. The prosecutor will take such an external factor into account in planning investigations on the ground. “Of course, the prosecutor has to take into account the security requirements for everyone involved”, says Turlan. “Publishing the results of the investigations or issuing an arrest warrant on the day of the elections wouldn’t make much sense and wouldn’t lead to a good administration of justice.”
Lead image: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda speaking at an ICC press conference (Photo: ICC/CPI)