Since the onset of the rebellion in 2002, the government has steadily increased the number, size, and visibility of government security forces, and has encouraged the formation of local militia forces, particularly in the West and around the commercial capital Abidjan. The expansion within the military and the use of ill-trained or untrained militias has proved disastrous for the civilian population, which has suffered human rights abuses on a daily basis. According to credible reports from local and international human rights monitors, journalists and diplomats, members of the state security forces during 2005 have committed numerous extrajudicial killings, some of which appear to have targeted northerners, West African immigrants, and others perceived to be sympathetic to the New Forces. Many of these killings were reportedly committed under the guise of fighting common crime.11 In addition, at the vast number of military checkpoints throughout government controlled areas, members of the security forces abuse their power and systematically extort from and rob civilians. These official forces are supported by dozens of ill-disciplined pro-government militias, who regularly harass, intimidate, and often terrorize persons believed to be sympathetic to the rebels.
The state security forces include the police, gendarmerie, army, and the newly formed Security Operations Command Center (Centre de Commandement des Opérations de Sécurité or CECOS). Established by presidential decree in July 2005, CECOS is led by Col. Georges Guiai Bi Point, who commanded the forces that violently repressed an opposition demonstration on March 25, 2004, as mentioned above.12 CECOS has about 1,700 members recruited from the army, police, and gendarmerie. The unit is reported to be well-armed with new weapons, vehicles, and other equipment.13 Although the government claims that it created CECOS to improve security in Abidjan, diplomats, military analysts, and journalists told Human Rights Watch that they believed CECOS was created to forestall any attempt at a coup détat in Abidjan. According to many of the same sources, CECOS has perpetrated numerous serious violations of human rights in Abidjan, including extrajudicial execution, extortion at checkpoints, and theft from individuals living in the so-called quartiers defavorisés (slums) or other areas heavily populated by supporters of the political opposition.14
One human rights activist who regularly receives complaints from victims of extortion and theft described the actions of the security forces in Abidjan as follows:
For example, the security forces go to Abobo and arrest people from the streets just because they feel like it. It is a common practice. They humiliate them and strip them and put them all together and steal the money from them. The security forces know the people in those areas are against the regime.15
The official security forces also include special smaller units such as the Anti-Riot Brigade (Brigade Anti-Emeute or BAE), the Presidential Guard (Garde Présidentielle or GP), the Presidential Security Group (Groupement de Securité Présidentielle or GSP), and the Republican Guard (Guarde Republicaine or GR). These special forcescomprised mainly of Bété soldiers (the same ethnic group as the president), as well as the closely related Attie, Abey, and Dida ethnic groupsare considered to be extremely loyal to the president.16
Since 2002 the government has increasingly relied on local militias to combat the rebellion. Western military and diplomatic sources speculated that the government relies on the militias because it lacks confidence in the loyalty of the state security forces.17 Militia leaders interviewed by Human Rights Watch claim that they are at the vanguard of forces defending the government, compensating for an army that has been split along ethnic and regional lines since the 2002 rebellion.18 Western diplomats and Ivorian government officials alike refer to the militias as parallel security forces.19 Most of the recruits are supporters of President Gbagbos FPI party and, as with the special forces listed above, many come from the Bété, Attie, Abey, and Dida ethnic groups, or their allies in the west, the Wê and Krou tribes. These militias have been used by government officials to violently suppress opposition demonstrations and anti-government dissent, stifle the press, foment violent anti-foreigner sentiment, and attack rebel-held villages in the western cocoa and coffee producing areas.20
Key militias operating in Abidjan are the Young Patriots (Congrès Panafricain des Jeunes Patriotes or COJEP), headed by Charles Ble Goude; the Patriotic Group for Peace (Groupe Patriotique pour la Paix or GPP), led by Moussa Zeguen Toure; and Eugene Djues Union for the Total Liberation of Côte dIvoire (Union pour la Liberation Totale de la Côte dIvoire or UPLTCI). Militia leaders in Abidjan deny that their organizations have weapons, and as such have not been included in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) program foreseen under the successive peace agreements. However, numerous journalists, diplomatic and military sources, and international aid workers claim that they have repeatedly observed militiamen in Abidjan with AK-47 assault rifles, Uzi submachine guns, and pistols.21 In February 2005, the GPPs armed capacity was evident when its militiamen fought a gun battle with police cadets outside the GPPs Adjame camp.22
In the west, the largest militia group is the Liberation Forces of the Far West (Forces de Liberation du Grand Ouest or FLGO), founded by Denis Glofiei Maho, an assistant to the mayor of Guiglo and a member of the Central Committee of the FPI. Other militias in the west include the Ivorian Movement for the Liberation of Western Ivory Coast (Mouvement pour la Liberation de lOuest de la Côte dIvoire or MILOCI), the Patriotic Alliance of the Wê (Alliance Patriotique Wê or AP-Wê), and the Union of Patriots for the Resistance of the Far West (Union des Patriotes Pour la Résistance du Grand Ouest or UPRGO).23 Since July 2005, Maho has officially led and represented these four western militia groups, now known collectively as the Resistance Forces of the Far West.24
Intimidation, Harassment, and Attacks on Perceived Political Opponents and Supporters of the Rebellion
During 2005, usually unidentified perpetrators have intimidated, harassed, and sometimes attacked journalists, opposition party members, students, human rights activists, and others perceived to be enemies of the state or sympathetic to the rebels. Such activities have seriously undermined freedom of expression, association, and assembly in Côte dIvoire. The individuals most vulnerable to intimidation were those from northern Côte dIvoire and other West African countries. Human rights monitors believe those responsible to be members of the state security forces and militias.25 UNOCIs Human Rights Division receives about twenty reports a month from northerners or foreigners who have received death threats (mainly by anonymous telephone call).26
Throughout 2005, members of opposition political parties were regularly harassed, intimidated and sometimes attacked by known members of the security forces or unidentified individuals suspected of working with the security forces.27 These included a female member of a smaller opposition party called the Renaissance Party (Partie de la Renaissance or PR), who told Human Rights Watch that in late August 2005, while distributing brochures about a new government law on pensions in an Abidjan neighborhood, five CECOS officers approached her, accused her of supporting the rebels, and detained her for several hours at three different places of detention in succession.28 Armed men have broken into the homes of several opposition party leaders, including Akoto Yao, the president of the Union for Peace and Democracy in Côte dIvoire (Union pour la Démocratie et la Paix or UDPCI), whose assailants in June were armed with AK-47 assault rifles.29
Members of the governments official security forces and of the militias have regularly intimidated, threatened, and sometimes attacked journalists working for pro-opposition newspapers.30 Incidents of this from 2005 include:
Journalists working for pro-opposition newspapers told Human Rights Watch that they regularly receive death threats over the phone or by e-mail.36 For example, in mid-August a journalist from Le Nouveau Réveil received several death threats by telephone at his home by an individual who accused him of supporting the rebels.37
State security forces, militias and pro-government groups also regularly threaten and intimidate human rights activists.38 The director of one such group explained:
Some people look at us like the enemy, an opposition group. We have been targeted and threatened: our first President is in exile in Belgium; the second one in New York. I have been threatened and I had to sell my car, because they knew it and they knew the license number; I received calls, e-mails. Soldiers shot inside my house in 2004. There are many cases of intimidation. Even once I was in Canada and members of the security forces who were in the same conference came to me to threaten me and told me I should not talk about the situation in the country. The same thing happened in Dublin, Ireland.39
During 2005 a student group called the Ivorian Students Federation (Federation Etudiantine et Scolaire de Côte dIvoire or FESCI), operating at the main university campus in Abidjan, regularly harassed, intimidated, and attacked students and teaching staff believed to support the opposition or rebels. 40 FESCI is fiercely loyal to the government, and was once led by the leader of the Young Patriots Blé Goudé (and also by Guillaume Soro, now a rebel leader). Diplomats, journalists, and human rights monitors told Human Rights Watch that in addition to sowing terror, FESCI has become a mafia that uses violence to control much of what goes on at the university, such as who receives campus accommodation and which merchants operate on campus.41
In 2004, Habib Dodo, a leader of a rival student union called the General Association of Students of Côte dIvoire (Association Generale des Élèves et Étudiants de Côte dIvoire or AGEECI) was murdered reportedly after being taken from his home by FESCI members.42 On June 15, 2005, an AGEECI member was severely beaten while distributing pamphlets in the university library.43 On June 23 a female member of AGEECI, Nathalie Soro, was sexually abused by several FESCI members who accused her of being a rebel. On July 14, FESCI members attacked several members of AGEECI while they were distributing brochures about the anniversary of Habib Dodos death.44
AGEECI members told Human Rights Watch that although they regularly report incidents of harassment and abuse to the police, so far no one has been prosecuted or punished for these crimes. In a July 2005 interview, FESCI leader Serge Koffi Yao justified the attacks because AGEECI is not a student organization and we cannot let them meet on campus. It is a rebel organization created in the rebel zone and seeking to spread its tentacles to the university.45
Journalists, diplomats, U.N. officials, and witnesses told Human Rights Watch that throughout 2005 the state security forcesincluding the army, police, gendarmerie, and CECOSregularly extorted money from civilian travelers at military checkpoints set up countrywide. They said that especially in Abidjan the extortion has steadily increased since 2002, and is so widespread it appears to be institutionalized.46
Cars, buses, and minivans are frequently stopped at checkpoints after which drivers and passengers are harassed or directly intimidated into giving money. Several members of a transporters trade union in Abidjan told Human Rights Watch that on a seven-kilometer stretch of road between the Abidjan neighborhoods of Abobo and Ndyama vehicles are routinely forced to pay 500 CFAs (about U.S.$1) to each of six different checkpoints.47 According to a diplomatic source, a soldier in the south can make as much as 1,000,000 CFAs a month (about $2,000) from the checkpoint extortion.48 If individuals refuse to give money, they are often subjected to verbal and physical harassment.49
Human rights monitors, journalists, transport union officials, and diplomats told Human Rights Watch that according to interviews done by them, the security forces act more aggressively towards or ask for more money from individuals from the north or other West African countries.50 One leading human rights activist told us, The racket is targeted. People from the north or other West African countries are more vulnerable. If your name is Kofie, or Gbagbo [typical Bété names], you dont have as many problems with the security forces on the roads.51 The newly formed CECOS is reportedly particularly culpable of extortion at the checkpoints.52
In addition to the extortion at checkpoints, passengers are vulnerable to other abuses: a Malian woman told Human Rights Watch that on May 24, 2005, after being forced to disembark from the vehicle in which she was traveling at a checkpoint in Duékoué, she was forced into a police car, taken to a hotel, and raped at gunpoint by a police officer who accused her of supporting the rebellion.53 After she filed a complaint the officer was suspended, but no criminal charges have been brought against him.
CECOS has also allegedly been involved in the outright theft of civilian property during supposed security operations, such as when several CECOS members raided a petty traders market for mobile phones in the Anyama neighborhood of Abidjan in October 2005. When the vendors resisted, the CECOS members shot at the ground, wounding two vendors, one seriously.54
Local and international human rights monitors, journalists and diplomats told Human Rights Watch that under the guise of fighting crime, members of the governments official security forces have reportedly committed numerous extrajudicial killings.55 A report by the Human Rights Division of ONUCI alleged that 110 people were killed by the governments security forces in anti-crime operations between May and July 2005.56 According to division head Simon Munzu, many of these killings occurred in suburbs which are heavily populated by ethnic groups perceived by the government to be sympathetic to the political opposition and New Forces rebels. This, according to Munzu, suggested that some could have been ethnically targeted extrajudicial killings.57
Following the government military offensive against rebel-held positions and the subsequent destruction by French forces of Ivorian aircraft in November 2004 (see above), the government took over state television and radio broadcaster RTI and used it to broadcast virulent anti-foreigner rhetoric, while pro-government newspapers encouraged patriotic Ivorians to attack foreigners.58 In the aftermath of these events, the U.N. Security Council demanded that the Ivorian authorities stop all radio and television broadcasting inciting hatred, intolerance, and violence. The Security Council also requested that UNOCI strengthen its monitoring role in this regard. 59
In early 2005 UNOCI established a Media Monitoring Unit within the Public Affairs section to track the media for hate speech.60 The unit has also trained journalists, established a U.N. radio station that is now broadcast throughout the country, and has participated in the establishment of community radio stations. 61 The unit also claims it has the capacity to drown out local radio frequencies if they are used to incite violence.
Despite the units efforts, the use of hate speech by both pro-government and pro-opposition media continues to pose a serious threat to human rights protection in Côte dIvoire. The Director of Information at UNOCI, Margherita Amodeo, told Human Rights Watch that while the use of hate speech had decreased in early 2005, her unit had by October 2005 noted a marked resurgence, a development she linked to the escalating political tensions associated with the breakdown of the most recent peace accord.62
Amodeo expressed serious concern about the continued vulnerability of RTI to a takeover by either the state security forces or militias. In her opinion, The security of RTIs premises is critical to the U.N.s ability to protect civilians in the event of violence.63 The vulnerability of the station was demonstrated on July 27, 2005, when a group of armed soldiers from the Republican Guard stormed the Abidjan offices of RTI and instructed directors not to broadcast footage of opposition members.64
The Ivorian government has since at least October 2004 recruited scores of recently demobilized child combatants in Liberia to fight alongside Ivorian government forces.65 According to Liberian children interviewed in villages along the Liberia-Côte dIvoire border, there have been three periods of intense recruitment of Liberians: in October 2004, just prior to a government offensive against the New Forces; in March 2005, before the parties met for peace talks in South Africa; and in September 2005, in the run-up to the end of President Gbagbos official mandate. The children said that after crossing into Côte dIvoire they were taken to one of several militia bases in the west of the country, including those in Toulepleu, Blolequin, and Guiglo. They said each of these bases housed several hundred Liberians, most of whom, like them, had fought with Liberian rebel group the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) during Liberias civil war. The majority of those interviewed said they received food, uniforms, and, in some cases, weapons from Ivorian military and militia personnel at the bases. The children consistently identified an army colonel and a former army non-commissioned officer who was in July 2005 appointed as a regional sub-prefect as those organizing the recruitment.66
 Human Rights Watch interviews with human rights monitors, journalists, and diplomats, Abidjan, September-October 2005.
 Christophe Boisbouvier, Gbagbo et LArmée: Qui Menace Qui?, Jeune Afrique LIntelligent, August 14-27, 2005, p. 30.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with diplomatic, military, and UN CIVPOL sources, Abidjan, September-October 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with diplomats, military analysts, and journalists, September-October 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview with a human rights activist, Abidjan, September 26, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with diplomatic and military sources, Abidjan, September-October 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with militia leaders, Abidjan, February-March 2005. For more details see Human Rights Watch, Country on a Precipice, pp. 16-17.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with Western diplomats and military analysts, Abidjan, September-October 2005; and International Crisis Group, Côte dIvoire: No Peace in Sight, ICG Africa Report No. 82, July 12, 2004, p. 6.
 See Human Rights Watch, Country on a Precipice.
 Human Rights Watch interviews, Abidjan, February-March and September-October 2005.
 See Human Rights Watch, Country on a Precipice, p. 18.
 Côte dIvoire: How Dangerous are the Loyalist Militias in the Wild West?, U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), April 13, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Denis Glofiei Maho, Guiglo, October 4, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview with U.N. and local human rights monitors, Abidjan, September-October 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Simon Munzu, head of UNOCI Human Rights Division, Abidjan, September 24, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with local and international human rights monitors, Abidjan, September-October, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview, Abidjan, October 12, 2005.
 UNOCI Human Rights Division, Report on the Human Rights Situation in Côte dIvoire: May, June, and July 2005, October 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with national and international journalists, diplomats, U.N. officials and local and international human rights groups, Abidjan, September-October 2005.
 Committee to Protect Journalists, Africa Cases 2005: Côte dIvoire, [online] www.cpj.org/cases.
 OLPED (lObservatoire de la liberté de la presse, de léthique et de la déontologie CI), Declaration for the International Day of Freedom of Press, May 3, 2005.
 Committee to Protect Journalists, Army Head Threatens Closure of Newpapers, Press Release, August 29, 2005.
 Committee to Protect Journalists, Africa Cases 2005: Côte dIvoire [online], www.cpj.org/cases.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with journalists including Eddy Pehe, Le Nouveau Réveil, Abidjan, October 12, 2005; Charles Sanga, Le Patriote, Abidjan, September 26, 2005; and Abdoulaye Sangare, 24 Heures, Abidjan, September 29, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Eddy Pehe, Le Nouveau Réveil, Abidjan, October 12, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with local human rights monitors, Abidjan, September-October 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview with an activist of the Ivorian Movement for Human Rights (Mouvement Ivoirien des Droits Humains or MIDH), Abidjan, September 26, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with members of the General Association of Students of Côte dIvoire (Association Generale des Élèves et Étudiants de Côte dIvoire or AGEECI) and local journalists, Abidjan, September-October 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with diplomats, journalists, and human rights monitors, Abidjan, September-October 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with AGEECI members, Abidjan, September 25, 2005.
 Côte dIvoire: University Campus Polarized by Political Violence, IRIN, July 29, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews, Abidjan, September-October 2005. In Abidjan, Human Rights Watch researchers were stopped and asked for money on several occasions.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with members of a transporters trade union, Abidjan, October 10, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview, Abidjan, September 28, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews, Abidjan, September-October 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview with MIDH President Amouriaye Toure, Abidjan, September 26, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with diplomatic and military sources, Abidjan, September-October 2005; Human Rights Watch interviews with members of a transporters trade union, Abidjan, October 10, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview, Abidjan, October 12, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with Western military analyst, Abidjan, October 10, 2005, and with international aid worker, Dakar, Senegal, November 24, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with human rights monitors, journalists, and diplomats, Abidjan, September-October 2005.
 UNOCI Human Rights Division, Report on the Human Rights Situation in Côte dIvoire: May, June, and July 2005, October 2005, p. 8.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Simon Munzu, head of UNOCI Human Rights division, Abidjan, September 24, 2005.
 For details on the governments use of hate speech to incite violence against northerners and foreigners, see Human Rights Watch, Country on a Precipice, pp. 33-34.
 United Nations Security Council Resolution 1572, November 15, 2005, S/RES/1572 (2004).
 The unit has only two full-time monitors who are supposed to monitor print, television, and radio broadcasts throughout the country. They collect information and produce monthly reports that are sent to the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee. Human Rights Watch interview with Margherita Amodeo, Director of Information, UNOCI, Abidjan, September 28, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Margherita Amodeo, Director of Information, UNOCI, Abidjan, September 28, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview, Abidjan, September 28, 2005.
 Committee to Protect Journalists, State Broadcaster Told to Stop Opposition Coverage, Press Release, July 28, 2005.
 The conscription or enlistment of children under the age of 15 or using them to participate actively in hostilities in either international or non-international armed conflicts is a war crime as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In the 1977 Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, which govern internal armed conflicts, Article 4(3)(c)of Protocol II states that "children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities." The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict requires states parties to set a minimum age of 18 for compulsory recruitment and participation in hostilities and to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
 Human Rights Watch interviews, Liberia, March and October 2005.