On 18 February 2019, TrustAfrica organised a roundtable discussion at its offices in Dakar on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the trial of the former President of Côte d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, and his collaborator, Charles Blé Goudé.
The meeting was introduced by TrustAfrica’s Executive Director, Dr. Ebrima Sall, and moderated by Alioune Tine, UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali. Fruitful discussions were held on the outcome of the trial to date, the perspectives for criminal justice in Africa, the challenges posed by the ICC’s action on the socio-political situation in Côte d’Ivoire, and the situation in the country ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.
The speakers, namely Eric-Aimé SEMIEN, President of the Human Rights Observatory in Côte d’Ivoire (OIDH), Barrister Hélène CISSE, member of the Senegalese Bar, representing victims before the ICC, and Pascal KAMBALE, Programme Manager, Open Society Foundation, Regional Office for Africa, set the scene and led the discussions. The various civil society stakeholders and experts who attended the event discussed the impact of the ICC’s actions in Africa in general and in Côte d’Ivoire in particular.
It will be recalled that on 15 January 2019, the ICC Trial Chamber decided to dismiss charges against Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé accused of crimes against humanity. However, following the initiation of appeal proceedings, the ICC Court of Appeal decided on the conditional release of the two men pending the commencement of the appeal proceedings. These decisions of the ICC have been widely criticized and have provided an additional opportunity to challenge the ICC Office of the Prosecutor’s investigation and prosecution strategy.