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Côte d’Ivoire’s deadly ghosts from Liberia

By Konye Obaji Ori
Posted on Thursday, 7 June 2012 09:28

At least 40 civilians have been killed in Ivory Coast since July and children as young as 14 are being recruited by armed groups in Liberia who supported the former West African nation’s, Human Rights Watch has revealed.

The armed men fought for Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo and escaped to Liberia following his arrest. And according to HRW, the armed men have carried out at least four attacks targeting ethnic groups who support Ivory Coast’s current president Alassane Outtara.

Ivory Coast came close to a civil war when former Gbagbo refused to cede power to Ouattara in a 2010 election. An estimated 3,000 people were killed in the six months of violence that followed.

During the political tension, both sides handed out weapons and recruited young men to fight during the conflict. Several thousand Liberian mercenaries joined the fight, the vast majority for Gbagbo’s side, Human Rights Watch says.

Gbagbo was arrested with the help of United Nations and French forces in April 2011, and is now facing charges of war crimes at The Hague. But since Outtara’s election Gbagbo’s armed fighters have reportedly killed over 40 civilians and recruited children.

HRW argues that the Liberian government has failed to respond to the presence of armed groups on the border or to the recruitment of child soldiers.

“Rather than uphold its responsibility to prosecute or extradite those involved in international crimes, Liberian authorities have stood by as many of these same people recruit child soldiers and carry out deadly cross-border attacks,” Matt Wells, West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch told reporters.

Residents of several Liberian border towns have also described seeing children at a training camp for fighters.

“We are calling on the Liberian government to uphold its responsibilities under Liberian and international law to investigate and prosecute those who committed war crimes in Ivory Coast and those involved in more recent cross-border attacks.”

Ivory Coast Deputy Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi said that Ivorian and Liberian authorities were collaborating to prevent further attacks. “We’re working with the Liberians and we have reinforced patrols along the border,” Koffi said. He said there was a joint military program in place, but that it was secretive and he could not provide details.

The report on Liberian mercenaries, as well as Ivorian militants fighting on Gbagbo’s behalf is based on field work in Liberian towns bordering Ivory Coast where HRW conducted interviews with 21 Ivorian and Liberian former mercenaries. あなたの携帯電話でカジノをプレイする モバイル カジノ リアルマネーでプレーするのは簡単です

The report also reiterates concerns expressed by the United Nations that the Liberian government had not taken adequate measures against Liberian mercenaries and Ivorian militants accused of war crimes.

In April, Liberian authorities released Isaac Chegbo on bail, a mercenary accused of leading massacres in Ivory Coast last year that left more than 120 people dead.

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