Côte d'Ivoire

Status: adopted national law or policy

Côte d’Ivoire is the first country in Africa to have implemented a public policy protecting human rights defenders (also referred to as HRDs or defenders). Despite this development, defenders continue to be subject to harassment and intimidation. Steps have been taken by civil society to improve the effective implementation of the public policy in place.

On 20 June 2014, Law 2014-388 on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Defenders was adopted. This is the first legal framework to have been introduced in Africa on the protection of defenders. Although the adoption of this law was an important step forward, it was only implemented in 2017 through Decree 2017-121, which activates the 2014 law. The effective implementation of this decree remains up for improvement, however, and civil society actors have called upon the Ivorian government to make additional efforts towards effective implementation through the establishment of a mechanism for the protection of human rights defenders.

Côte d’Ivoire falls under the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa. Apart from a press release in 2007, however, no effective monitoring has been done by this mechanism in Côte d’Ivoire. The same applies to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, who has not paid a country visit to Côte d’Ivoire, nor requested one.

Côte d’Ivoire is reviewed through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), and the last country report was completed and published in 2019. This report makes no mention of human rights defenders and does not evaluate the implementation of the 2014 law. Côte d’Ivoire did, however, accept recommendations regarding the protection of defenders coming from Paraguay, Italy, Ireland, Czechia, Canada, Argentina, Moldova and Timor Leste[1]

Côte d’Ivoire is classified as “repressed” by the Civicus Monitor 2022, which means that “active individuals and civil society members who criticise power holders risk surveillance, harassment, intimidation, imprisonment, injury and death” (CIVICUS, n.d.). The Freedom House Index classified Côte d’Ivoireas “partly free” in 2022. This is mainly due to the fact that different forms of repression against human rights defenders remain common. In 2020, many arbitrary arrests took place when protesters took to the streets to raise their voice against the candidacy of current President Ouattara (Amnesty International, 2021). Today, the majority of these persons have been released.

References and documents

Alapini-Gansou, M.R. (n.d). Press Release on the Situation in Côte d’Ivoire. African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, available on https://www.achpr.org/pressrelease/detail?id=381

Amnesty International (2021). Côte d’Ivoire 2021. Available on https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/africa/west-and-central-africa/cote-divoire/report-cote-divoire/

Coalition Ivorienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CIDDH) (2017). Décret n° 2017-121 du 22 février 2017 portant modalités d’application de la loi n° 2014-388 du 20 juin 2014 portant promotion et protection des défenseurs des droits de l’homme. Available on https://ci-ddh.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/DECRET-2017-121-copie-Juin-2021.pdf

International Service of Human Rights (ISHR) (2019). Cote d’Ivoire – Establish a mechanism to protect human rights defenders. Available on https://ishr.ch/latest-updates/cote-divoire-establish-mechanism-protect-human-rights-defenders/

Republique du Côte d’Ivoire (2014). Loi N° 2014-388 du 20 Juin 2014, portant promotion et protection des défenseurs des droits de l’homme. Available on https://ci-ddh.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Loi-portant-promotion-et-protection-des-d%C3%A9fenseurs-des-droits-de-lhomme.pdf

Updated on 20/06/22

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