Côte d'Ivoire: Ensure effective implementation of law for protection of human rights defenders


The government of Côte d’Ivoire should adopt an executive decree to implement the law on the promotion and protection of human rights defenders, ISHR said in a statement to the Human Rights Council today. 

(Geneva) - Côte d’Ivoire should ensure the effective implementation of a law to protect human rights defenders, strengthen its national human rights institution and combat impunity, ISHR said in a statement delivered to the Human Rights Council under Item 10 yesterday, following the oral update of the Independent Expert on Côte d’Ivoire.

Congratulating Côte d’Ivoire on the human rights defender law, the first of its kind in Africa, ISHR called on the government to ‘periodically review and strengthen the law in consultation with human rights defenders to close protection gaps and ensure the law is effective in promoting an enabling environment for human rights defenders and addressing systemic factors contributing to attacks against them.’

‘The Independent Expert should encourage the government to adopt an executive decree required to implement this law. Without such a decree this initiative will remain but a hollow promise of protection for Ivorian defenders,’ said Clément Voulé, ISHR’s Head of ISHR's Africa Programme.

As elections approach, defenders will play an even more critical role in monitoring the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire. However, in doing so they are likely to become more vulnerable to attacks and harassment. ‘The adoption of a decree would give defenders a much needed institutionalised framework for protection and set an example for countries throughout the continent and beyond,’ added Mr Voulé.

Since the electoral crisis in 2010-11, human rights activists have advocated for justice for all victims of the conflict but ‘the slow progress in bringing perpetrators on all sides to justice undermines victims’ rights and the reconciliation process,’ said Mr Voulé.

In its statement, ISHR invited the Independent Expert on Côte d’Ivoire to continue to work on the fight against impunity. ISHR also highlighted that the National Human Rights Commission lacks independence, which is required by the Paris Principles. In this regard ISHR recommended that the government of Côte d’Ivoire seek the advice of the Independent Expert, together with the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights and the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions, on legislative and other measures to ensure the required independence of the National Human Rights Commission.

‘An independent, effective and adequately resourced National Human Rights Commission – with a dedicated and full resourced human rights defenders focal point – is critical to the promotion of human rights and the protection of human rights defenders in Côte d'Ivoire’ said Mr Voulé.

A video of the statement is available in English and French

For further information contact: Clément N Voulé at c.voule@ishr.ch.


  • Africa
  • Human rights defenders
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
  • Ivory Coast