In the United States, when a presidential candidate loses an election, he or she gives a concession speech that wishes luck to the winner of the race and gives positive encouragement to unite the country. Not all countries follow this model. The International Criminal Court has recently accused Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo of causing post-election violence in an attempt to cling to power after losing his country’s presidential elections. He is currently on trial for, among other things, rape and murder. This is the farthest thing from bowing out gracefully.
When asked about the case, Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor for the ICC, said “[w]e will show that Mr. Gbagbo and forces under his control are responsible for the death, rapes, serious injuries to, and arbitrary detention of, countless law abiding citizens” who allegedly supported the opposing party, and will narrow their claims to four specific incidents. These incidents “will show that Mr. Gbagbo is responsible for the killings of at least 166 persons, the rapes of at least 34 women and girls, the infliction of serious bodily injury and suffering on at least 94 persons and for committing the crime of persecution against at least 294 victims. . . .” Gbagbo is the only head of state who has ever been extradited to The Hague to be tried by the ICC.
After Alassane Ouattara was declared president following an election, Gbagbo refused to give up the presidency and allegedly ordered his supporters to attack his opponent’s backers. However, his lawyers have argued that the ICC has no standing to try him for rape or murder and that he should be tried in the Ivory Coast, but the ICC already held that they do have jurisdiction, though the case could be thrown out if The Ivory Coast investigates or prosecutes for the same crime. As of now, according to Ivorian officials, he has only been charged with “economic crimes.”
What about the other side? Ouattara supporters have also been allegedly supported post-election violence as well, but a representative of the Human Rights Watch claims that investigations into that side of the violence are much slower, possibly showing a bias for “victor’s justice.”
What would be the correct way to proceed? Should the ICC be handling this prosecution or should the Ivory Coast step in and try their former president? If that were to happen, do you think he would get a fair trial in his own country?
Source: Associated Press