While today's trial of former first lady Simone Gbagbo is an important step towards ending impunity in Côte d'Ivoire, Amnesty International maintains that the Ivorian authorities should reconsider their refusal to comply with their obligation to surrender her to the International Criminal Court (ICC) pursuant to an arrest warrant against her on charges of crimes against humanity.
Simone Gbagbo is set to go on trial today in Abidjan on charges of crimes against humanity related to the post-election violence in 2010-2011. More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence that ensued when her husband Laurent Gbagbo refused to relinquish power after losing an election.
"Unless Côte d'Ivoire applies to the International Criminal Court to again challenge the admissibility of her case they must immediately surrender Simone Gbagbo to the ICC," said Gaëtan Mootoo, West Africa researcher for Amnesty International.
"If the domestic trial continues, Côte d'Ivoire must ensure its proceedings comply with international human rights law standards, including the right to a fair trial. Côte d'Ivoire must show the world it is serious about delivering post-conflict justice to victims of all crimes."
Simone Gbagbo has been charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution and other inhuman acts. An arrest warrant was issued against her on 22 February 2012.
In 2014, an ICC Pre-Trial Chamber rejected a challenge by Côte d'Ivoire against the admissibility of the case, which was confirmed on appeal in 2015. Côte d'Ivoire has so far refused to surrender her to the ICC.
Simone Gbagbo's husband, the former President Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, an ally of Gbagbo's and leader of a militant youth group, are currently on trial before the ICC for crimes against humanity in relation to the post-election violence.
Simone Gbagbo was previously convicted and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on 10 March 2015 on charges of participation in an insurrectional movement, conspiracy against the State, and disturbing public order.