The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/68/878–S/2014/339) issued on 15 May 2014.
Despite the ongoing peace and reconciliation process and ongoing efforts regarding the reintegration of ex-combatants, the overall child protection situation remains of concern in the light of insecurity in some areas and a lack of accountability for grave violations against children.
In 2013, the United Nations documented a total of 30 grave violations against children perpetrated by the Forces républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI). Four cases of recruitment and use of children by FRCI were documented. The children, between 13 and 17 years of age, were manning FRCI checkpoints in Mankono and M’bahiakro and, in one case, served as a cook.
Sexual violence against children remained the most recurrent violation. At least 23 girls, between 11 and 17 years of age, were raped by FRCI elements (20) and unknown armed elements (3) in the northern and western parts of the country. Following advocacy by the United Nations, five FRCI elements were arrested, but charges were reclassified to indecent assault. At the time of reporting, one of the arrested FRCI elements had been prosecuted, and condemned to five years of imprisonment and fined. The impunity and weak capacity of the national judicial system to address sexual violence have hindered access to justice for victims across the country, including in Abidjan. As a result of such gaps in institutional capacity, but also owing to the fear of retaliation and stigmatization, out-of-court settlements of rape cases remain frequent and to the detriment of the victims’ rights to access justice and compensation.
The United Nations also verified five cases of military use of schools and hospitals by FRCI. For example, a primary school in Dja-Kouakoukro was used by FRCI for military purposes, preventing children from attending classes for two months. In addition, a health centre in Ranouinke had been used by FRCI since 2011. Following advocacy efforts, check points in the vicinity of three schools in Touba were dismantled in March 2013.
My Special Representative visited Côte d’Ivoire from 26 to 30 October 2013. During that occasion, she discussed with the national authorities the issue of impunity for sexual violence against children and advocated for the removal of the victim’s obligation to produce a medical certificate as a requirement for filing a complaint and pressing charges against perpetrators.
A series of training and capacity-building sessions on child protection were organized by the United Nations for the defence and security forces. In November, a child protection cell was re-established within FRCI to liaise with child protection actors and deal with child protection concerns. The draft national child protection policy to address violence against children, assistance to child victims and the issue of impunity was pending adoption by the Government at the time of reporting. Furthermore, on 5 December, the Government adopted guidelines and procedures for service providers for the prevention, referral of and response to grave violations committed against children. Accountability for sexual violence against children and improved access to justice and adequate services should be the priorities for improved protection of children in Côte d’Ivoire.