Ms. Julienne Ondziel-Gnelenga, Member of the African Commission and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa and Annie Rashidi-Mulumba, a lawyer in the ACHPR Secretariat, undertook a mission to promote the rights of women from 4 to 8 in February 2001. The objectives of the mission were:
- Promote the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights among the political and administrative authorities, NGOs and associations, the judiciary, security forces, media, religious and traditional leaders and other opinion makers.
- Promote human rights in general and women's rights in particular by raising awareness among different stakeholders of the mandate of the Commission, through meetings with intellectuals, trade unionists and members of associations for the defense of human rights, with a view to establish partnerships based on consultation and information exchange.
- Gather first hand information on the situation of human rights with the Government, NGOs, IGOs, and UN agencies, political parties, religious leaders, civil society, in short, anyone interested.
- Collect testimonies from victims of human rights violations.
- Visit some places to assess the human rights situation in the country, including health centres, detention facilities, etc..
- Draw the attention of the authorities to the compliance induced by the provisions of Articles 1 and 62 of the Charter in particular, regarding the submission of periodic reports to the ACHPR.
- Urge the Government to expedite the ratification of the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
- Sensitize the Government on the development and upcoming adoption of the draft Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa.
To the International Community
- Assist the Ivorian government to take and implement appropriate measures for the protection of victims, survivors and witnesses of the mass grave of Yopougon and rape of women during the socio-political events of December 2000. As long as these people do not feel free to tell their stories, the investigations will not progress. Indeed, many Ivorians, national and international NGOs estimate that the investigations on both the mass grave of Yopougon and the rape of women are doomed to failure. The police and gendarmes are suspected of being among the perpetrators of these crimes find themselves in the position of "judge and jury" because the government has entrusted them with the investigations. In this context, an independent inquiry to examine the facts, determine responsibility and identify the victims would be appropriate and effective.
- Fund programs to support local organizations working on the psychological and social rehabilitation of women victims of rape:
- Provide economic and social support to women victims of violence, including the creation of income-generating activities for them.
At the regional level
- The ACHPR should draw the attention of the Conference of Heads of State and Government so that it conducted a comprehensive study or an independent investigation into the mass grave of Yopougon and the rape of women during the socio-political events in December 2000, pursuant to section 58 of the Charter;
- The OAU should provide the necessary support for a thorough reflection on the concept of citizenship to support the Ivory Coast in search of a solution to the problem with the concept of Ivorianship which is the basis of socio-political clashes which this country faces these days.
- The OAU should develop a diplomatic plea for the Côte d'Ivoire to the EU, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to save it from economic chaos which could affect several other countries in the West-African sub- region.
At the national level
The Government should:
- Restart the ongoing investigations by adopting appropriate measures for the protection of victims, survivors and witnesses of the mass grave of Yopougon and the rape of women during the events of December 2000 so that they can make theie statements without fear of threats from the perpetrators of these crimes.
- Authorize the opening of an independent international investigation to ensure that victims and witnesses testify with confidence, so that the perpetrators are identified and punished without complacency;
- Strengthen the law in regard to violence against women in accordance with commitments made by the Ivory Coast at the international level and ensure their effective implementation;
- Control the use of force by those responsible for law enforcement so that they are held accountable for the actions they take and are subject to sanctions, thereby ending the impunity they enjoy anytime, anywhere;
- Launch programmes to support local NGOs working for the rehabilitation and social psycho-medical support to women victims of sexual violence, such as the creation of a fund to support economic and income generating activities;
- Encourage a frank and open debate at the national level to enable all components of Ivorian society to comment on the concept of Ivorian, which divides rather than unites.