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Côte d’IvoireThe ICC opened its investigation in the situation of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire in 2011. Two arrest warrants have been issued for crimes against humanity for Laurent Gbagbo and Simone Gbagbo.
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Côte d’Ivoire signed the Rome Statute on 30 November 1998, but only ratified it in February 2013. However, in April 2003, Côte d’Ivoire accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC under the provisions of article 12 (3) of the Rome Statute. It is the first time that the prosecutor has opened an investigation on this basis.
The situation is assigned to Pre-Trial Chamber I, composed of Judge Hans-Peter Kaul, Judge Christine van den Wyngaert, and Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi. It had previously been assigned to Pre-Trial Chamber III.
The Prosecutor carried out a preliminary examination of the situation in Côte d’Ivoire from 2003 onwards in order to determine whether an investigation was warranted, following the submission of a declaration by the Côte d’Ivoire government recognizing the jurisdiction of the Court.
On 14 December 2010, President of Côte d'Ivoire Alassane Ouattara sent a letter to the Office of the Prosecutor reaffirming the Côte d’Ivoire government’s acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction. On 3 May 2011, President Ouattara reiterated his wish that the Court open an investigation.
Opening of the investigation
After conducting a preliminary examination of the situation in Côte d'Ivoire from 2003 onward, the prosecutor concluded that there was a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court had been committed in Côte d'Ivoire since 28 November 2010. On 23 June 2011, Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested authorization from ICC judges to open an investigation in Côte d’Ivoire in relation to war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed following the disputed presidential election of 28 November 2010. It was the second time that the prosecutor used his propriu motu powers to initiate an investigation without first having received a referral from a state or by the United Nations Security Council. It is the seventh situation under investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor.
On 3 October 2011, in a majority decision, Pre-Trial Chamber III decided that there was a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation as the matter appears to fall within the Court’s jurisdiction, and authorized the prosecutor to open the investigation.
Also, the judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III requested that the prosecutor revert to the Chamber with any additional relevant information that is available to him on potential crimes committed between 2002 and 2010 in Côte d’Ivoire, which the prosecutor did on 3 November 2011.
Authorization of expansion of investigative timeframe
On 22 February 2012, ICC judges expanded authorization for the investigation in Côte d'lvoire to include crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed between 19 September 2002 and 28 November 2010, considering that the violent events in Côte d’Ivoire in this period (including the events since 28 November 2010) are to be treated as a single situation, in which an ongoing crisis involving a prolonged political dispute and power-struggle culminated in the events in relation to which the Pre-Trial Chamber earlier authorized an investigation.
Laurent Gbagbo case
Arrest and transfer to The Hague
On 23 November 2011, judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III issued an arrest warrant, following a request made by the prosecutor for Laurent Koudou Gbagbo, former president of Côte d'Ivoire. Following the arrest warrant, on 30 November 2011 Mr. Gbagbo was transferred to the ICC detention centre in The Hague.
The suspect appeared before Pre-Trial Chamber III on 5 December 2011 at which time the Chamber verified the identity of the suspect, and ensured that he was clearly informed of the charges brought against him, as well as informed of his rights under the Rome Statute.
Confirmation of charges
On 12 June 2012, at the request Mr. Gbagbo, Pre-Trial Chamber I postponed the commencement of a confirmation of charges hearing—which will determine whether the case against Mr. Gbagbo can be sent to trial—to 13 August 2012. Originally scheduled to start on 18 June, the postponement of the hearing is intended to give the defense more preparation time. However, on 3 August 2012, the hearing was postponed for a second time until a medical evaluation of Mr. Gbagbo’s fitness to take part in the case is carried out.
On 13 July 2012, PTC I refused Gbagbo’s request for provisional release. On 26 October 2012, the Appeals Chamber rejected Mr. Gbagbo’s appeal challenging a decision denying him interim release.
On 24-25 September 2012, Pre-Trial Chamber I held a closed hearing to discuss the fitness of Mr. Gbagbo to take part in the pending confirmation of charges hearing. On 2 November 2012, judges ruled that he was fit to take part in the proceedings and the hearing would be rescheduled.
Following a hearing on the status of the case on 11 December 2012, pre-trial judges decided that a key confirmation of charges hearing to decide whether the case against Mr. Gbagbo will move to trial will begin on 19 February 2013.
From 19-28 February 2013, the confirmation of charges hearing in the Laurent Gbagbo case took place. Judges will deliberate on whether there are substantial grounds to believe that Gbagbo is responsible for alleged crimes against humanity that followed Côte d’Ivoire’s disputed 2010 presidential elections, and move the case to trial.
On 3 June 2013, PTC I delayed issuing a decision on whether the case against Laurent Gbagbo would move to trial due to insufficient evidence. Judges requested the prosecutor to consider providing further evidence or conducting further investigation by 15 November 2013, emphasizing however that the evidence did not appear to be so lacking that it left them with no choice but to decline to confirm the charges.
On 11 June 2013, PTC I rejected Gbagbo’s challenge to the admissibility of the case before the Court, concluding that there was no evidence he was being prosecuted in Côte d’Ivoire for any crimes.
The prosecutor has appealed a 3 June 2013 decision by PTC I to delay deciding whether the case against Laurent Gbagbo will move to trial, citing the misinterpretation and misapplication of certain RS articles. Judges have requested the prosecutor to consider providing further evidence or conducting further investigations by 15 November 2013.
Appeal Chamber confirms ICC jurisdiction
On 12 December 2012, the ICC Appeals Chamber confirmed the Court’s jurisdiction over violent events that followed the country’s disputed 2010 elections, upon which the charges against Mr. Gbagbo are based. In doing do, the Appeals Chamber unanimously dismissed Mr. Gbagbo’s appeal against a PTC I decision of 15 August 2012, which had originally rejected Mr. Gbagbo's challenge of the Court's jurisdiction. Mr. Gbagbo had appealed on the basis that the ICC’s jurisdiction, which is based on a 2003 declaration by Côte d’Ivoire, pertained only to events in 2002 and 2003, and not to those allegedly committed by Mr. Gbagbo in 2010 and 2011.
Simone Gbagbo case
Arrest warrant unsealed
On 22 November 2012, Pre-Trial Chamber I unsealed a warrant of arrest issued against Simone Gbagbo for four charges of crimes against humanity (murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, other inhumane acts and persecution) allegedly committed in Côte d'Ivoire between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011. She is currently in detention in Côte d’Ivoire and subject to domestic proceedings, including for the charge of genocide. The ICC has requested her immediate transfer.
14 Oct 2011
03 Oct 2011