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Côte d'Ivoire

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Last updated on 26.10.2018 at 15:43

Côte d’Ivoire-Overview

Space for civil society received an important boost in 2014 with the enactment of a law to protect human rights defenders.

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 Police use tear gas to disperse a protest in Abidjan district Adjamé

Police use tear gas to disperse a protest in Abidjan district Adjamé

On 7th September 2018, security forces dispersed a protest of residents of Adjamé Village, using teargas, with several reported injured people.

Peaceful Assembly

On 7th September 2018, security forces dispersed a protest by residents of Adjamé village, an autonomous district in the capital Abidjan, using teargas, with several people reported to have been injured as a result. Demonstrators protested against government's plans to evict people in a part of the village to make way for the construction of a bridge - "the 4th bridge of Abidjan". In a press conference, N’Gboba Simon, the Chief of the Adjamé village, stated that authorities had been notified of their intention to demonstrate and the itinerary the protest would follow. He said

"Our fight is to make ourselves heard ..... We are not against development, but we can not accept that development takes our village." (translated from French)

Expression

At the last minute, the Groupement des éditeurs de presse de Côte d’Ivoire (GEPCI; Groupe of Press Publishers of Côte d’Ivoire) suspended a 'journée presse morte' (a day without press) protest action, which had been planned for 17th September 2018. The planned media shutdown was intended to protest against the Minister of Communication's decision to withdraw public funding of about 800 million francs CFA (1.4 million USD) which had been earmarked for the print media. The action was suspended to allow discussions on the matter to take place with the government. A second 'journée presse morte' was subsequently announced for 25th October 2018, but was yet again suspended, through a decision by a extraordinary GEPCI General Assembly, to allow further negotiations to take place.  

Association

CSOs and human rights defenders pursue a wide range of causes, typically without interference from the state or non-state actors.

CSOs and human rights defenders pursue a wide range of causes, typically without interference from the state or non-state actors. People in Côte d’Ivoire benefit from strong legal protections of their right to associate freely, including under Article 13 of the constitution, which allows for groups to form and operate so long as they respect the principles of national sovereignty and of democracy. African and international human rights treaties to which Côte d’Ivoire is a state party provide additional legal protections for CSOs and activists. A law passed in 2014 explicitly protects human rights defenders, although the government has yet to adopt practical measures to ensure its provisions are implemented. Despite the lack of progress from bureaucrats, civil society organisations have gone ahead to conduct their own activities to improve awareness of the law and its application by the police. While the 2014 law represents a significant victory for human rights defenders, activists promoting the rights of LGBTI people continue to face discrimination and sometimes violent attacks from members of the public. Unconfirmed reports from September 2015 indicated that a senior police official was fired for failing to intervene during a mob attack on the offices of an LGBTI organisation in January 2014.


Peaceful Assembly in Côte d’Ivoire

Constitutional protections aside, people in Côte d’Ivoire cannot be certain that their right to assemble peacefully in public will always be upheld.

Constitutional protections aside, people in Côte d’Ivoire cannot be certain that their right to assemble peacefully in public will always be upheld. Anti-government demonstrations, or those considered to be ‘prejudicial to public order’, are regularly prevented or forcefully disrupted by the security forces. The law requires groups wishing to hold demonstrations in stadiums or other enclosed spaces to submit a written notice to the Ministry of Interior three days before the proposed event. Protests turned violent in April 2016 at a university in Abidjan, where gatherings have been banned since the current government took power in 2011. Other recent protests, particularly those before and during the 2015 elections, were also prevented by the authorities.


Expression in Côte d’Ivoire

Constitutional provisions provide that everyone shall have the right to express and disseminate his or her ideas freely.

Constitutional provisions provide that everyone shall have the right to express and disseminate his or her ideas freely. However, in practice, there are restrictions on press freedom and the government exercises considerable influence over news coverage and programme content on the government-run television channels. In addition, a national communication council exerts less pressure on pro-government journalists than they do on others. The National Assembly introduced a freedom of information law in 2014, although a libel law continues to punish anyone critical of government policies. Freedom of expression on the Internet and social media is respected and 15% of people had internet access in 2014, a rapid increase from 5% in 2012.