HRC35 I Human Rights Council ends expert mandate on Côte d’Ivoire

25.06.2017

After six years of fruitful cooperation with the Ivorian government, the mandate of Mohamed Ayat, the UN's Independent Expert on Côte d'Ivoire, was officially discontinued at the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council. In a statement read during the interactive dialogue with the expert, ISHR and partners acknowledged with concern the end of his mandate and called for the government to effectively implement the 2014 human rights defenders law and its protection mechanism by adequately supporting and funding the National Human Rights Commission.

The end of the Independent Expert's mandate coincides with the official closure of the United Nations peace keeping mission, the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI). In April 2016, UN Security Council Resolution 2284 (2016) officially declared the completion of UNOCI’s mandate and decreed its closure by 30 June 2017.

The statement by ISHR and its partners at the 35th Human Rights Council session highlighted that with UNOCI’s departure, NGOs remain concerned about 'the security of defenders, especially in an environment where military mutinies have become frequent'. It noted that there is a worrying trend of curtailing freedom of expression in Côte d’Ivoire and recalled the case from February this year where six journalists, from four media houses, were arrested on suspicion of 'faking news' which could incite soldiers to revolt. Furthermore, there is grave concern with the on-going efforts to revise the press law in Côte d’Ivoire, where prison penalties and fines introduced in article 90 are exorbitant and could result in self-censorship in an otherwise vibrant democracy. ISHR and its partners encouraged the government to adopt a revised law that is in accordance with international human rights standards.

In his concluding remarks, Mohamed Ayat encouraged the Ivorian government to maintain momentum for reform, especially of the judiciary, its staff and institutions. He recognised and thanked civil society organisations for their active engagement with his mandate and called on Ivorian civil society organisations to make the most of the human rights defenders protection law adopted in 2014. He also urged the State to adequately finance the implementation of the protection mechanism contained in the law.

In his report and during the interactive dialogue, Mohamed Ayat recommended the establishment of a human rights focal point in Côte d’Ivoire whose main role would be to continue to provide capacity building after the departure of UNOCI. However, this suggestion was not supported by the Ivorian government. Among the residual tasks which remain to be implemented following the UN mission’s departure is the need to bring the Ivorian National Human Rights Commission in comformity with the Paris Principles, in terms of independence and effectiveness. The Commission needs adequate resources to fund its activities and work independently. ISHR’s statement invited the Ivorian government to speed up the process of amending the law establishing the National Human Rights Commission.

The mandate of the Independent Expert on capacity-building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights was established in June 2011 by Human Rights Council resolution 17/21 and has been active for the last six years. ISHR and partners welcomed the fruitful cooperation that had taken place between the government of Côte d’Ivoire and the Independent Expert in the discharge of his mandate. ‘As a minimum, this is an example of what cooperation by States with human rights mechanisms should look like,’ read the statement. The Government underlined the benefits of cooperation with such a mandate and encouraged other States to work cooperatively as they had done.

'Côte d’Ivoire’s cooperation with the Council is an example that should be followed by other African States, particularly at a time when States like Burundi and Eritrea refuse to cooperate with the mandates established to address human rights abuses in their respective countries,' said Clément Voule, Africa advocacy director at ISHR.

At the end of the session, the Council adopted a Presidential statement formalising the end of the Independent Expert’s mandate. In the statement, Côte d'Ivoire committed to strengthening human rights and the rule of law. In particular, the Government committed to reforming the national human rights institution to a category A status institution that fully complies with the Paris Principles. The Government also promised to implement the recommendations of Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to fight against impunity.

Read the full statement here in English and French.

Watch the statement here (in French):

Contact: Clément N. Voule, Director of African Advocacy, ISHR, on c.voule@ishr.ch

Photo: UN

Category:

Region
  • Africa
Topic
  • United Nations
Mechanism
  • Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Human Rights Council
Country
  • Ivory Coast