UN names Ivory Coast human rights investigators

April 13, 2011 - 0:0

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations on Tuesday named the experts who will investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Ivory Coast, a day after the capture of Laurent Gbagbo whose refusal to quit as president triggered conflict.

Vitit Muntabhorn, a Thai law professor who previously served as the UN special reporter on human rights in North Korea between 2004 and 2010, will lead the commission of inquiry into Ivory Coast, the UN Human Rights Council said in a statement.
UN staff have found 536 bodies to date in the west of the country since the end of March, officials told a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, and in New York on Monday UN staff said at least 400 had died in the city of Abidjan even before the most recent clashes there.
Crimes committed such as the shelling of a marketplace in Abidjan's Abobo district and the murder of women peacefully protesting, as well as numerous other killings and abductions may amount to crimes against humanity, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Friday.
The investigation will cover the period since the November 28 2010 election which Gbagbo lost, according to UN-certified results. Ivory Coast's internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, called for peace after Gbagbo's arrest with the help of French forces on Monday.
Ouattara now faces a huge task reuniting a country shattered by civil war.
On top of the deaths, aid workers believe more than 800,000 people are displaced within the country.
Both sides have been accused of human rights abuses in a conflict complicated by underlying ethnic tensions and other long-standing political differences.
The commission's mandate is “to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations of serious abuses and violations of human rights committed”, since the election “in order to identify those responsible fur such acts and bring them to justice”, the U.N. said.
The 47-member rights council, acting at the request of Nigeria on behalf of African countries, agreed last month to launch the investigation.
The other team members are Suliman Baldo, a Sudanese expert, and Reine Alapini Gansou, a criminal law professor from Benin.