Attacks Against West African Immigrants
Residents from other West African countries, notably Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Niger, and Nigeria, are being subjected to a steady and increasingly violent stream of abuses by militiamen and members of the security forces, Human Rights Watch found. The pro-Gbagbo forces engage in these frequent acts of deadly abuse, apparently with absolutely no fear of being investigated or held accountable.
Numerous witnesses described how West Africans are targeted for abuse solely on the basis of their nationality by pro-Gbagbo security forces and militia operating checkpoints or patrolling markets, neighborhoods, and other public places. Witnesses described victims being beaten to death with clubs, large pieces of concrete, knives, axes, and machetes, while others were doused with petrol and set ablaze.
Witnesses described how on February 25 and March 1, West Africans were killed by militiamen after being pulled out of taxis. On February 25, two marketplace porters were tied up, stuffed into their handcarts, and set ablaze. On March 3, a handicapped man from Burkina Faso accused by militiamen of hiding rebels in his house was brought into an abandoned building and set on fire. On February 28 and March 1, attackers amputated the penises of two other men, then killed them. The majority of these attacks took place in Yopougon, Port Bouët, and Cocody neighborhoods of Abidjan, which all have a heavy presence of pro-Gbagbo militias as reported by Human Rights Watch.
Several Malian and Nigerian shopkeepers who sold petrol, wood, and car parts in a market in Sebroko neighborhood, an area dominated by West African merchants, described how on February 24 members of the Republican Guard arrived to disperse a nearby peaceful demonstration and then opened fire on and threw grenades into their shops, provoking a huge fire that destroyed at least 35. A Malian man described hearing one soldier yell, “Say goodbye to your shops!” before they opened fire into an area that sells highly flammable items. The witnesses stated that as a group of Malians tried to rescue items from their burning shops, the Republican Guard shot into them, killing two.
War crimes in armed conflict not international in nature include murdering people not taking an active part in hostilities, including members of the armed forces who have been detained, and intentionally directing attacks against civilians who are not directly participating in hostilities.
When crimes against humanity and war crimes are committed, people in command authority who should have been aware of the crime and failed to prevent the crime or submit it for investigation and prosecution can be held accountable.
2016 Human Rights Watch
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