Africa

Ivory Coast police chief fired for ignoring anti-gay attack

By Jean Marc Yao

Logo of the LGBTI group Alternative Côte d'Ivoire

Logo of the LGBTI group Alternative Côte d’Ivoire

A police chief in Ivory Coast has been sacked because he did not respond adequately to a 2014 attack against the headquarters of a prominent LGBTI organization, according to a leader of the National Human Rights Commission, the  CNDHCI.

That announcement came during a national workshop on human rights and sexuality July 10-11 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Panneau posé à la maison des militants des droits LGBT en Côte-d'Ivoire. (Photo par Alternative Côte d'Ivoire)

“No fags,” says a sign posted by those who attacked the home of LGBTI rights activists in Ivory Coast in January 2014. (Photo courtesy of Alternative Ivory Coast)

The vice-president of the CNDHCI, Traore Wodjo Fini, told workshop attendees that the police chief of the 22nd district had been relieved of his duties by the Minister of the Interior because of police inaction during the January 2014 attacks — police refused to intervene to stop attacks on the headquarters of Alternative Ivory Coast and later were reluctant to register complaints from the organization’s leaders.

Alternative Ivory Coast is a non-government organization that combats homophobia, fights against AIDS within LGBTI communities in Ivory Coast,  and advocates for improved health care for sexual minorities.

Some knowledgeable observers in Ivory Coast point out that evidence is lacking to back up Traoré Wodjo Fini’s claim, so it is possible that the chief’s dismissal was described misleadingly to impress human rights defenders at the workshop.

During the incidents of January 2014, the headquarters of Alternative Ivory Coast repeatedly came under assault by people posing as its neighbors.

Sacs de déchets ont été jetés devant le domicile de militants des droits LGBT en Côte-d'Ivoire. (Photo par Alternative Côte d'Ivoire)

In January 2014, bags of garbage were dumped outside the home of LGBT rights activists in Ivory Coast. (Photo courtesy of Alternative Ivory Coast)

Four times, starting on Jan. 20, 2014, crowds attacked the headquarters, which was also the home of its executive director, Claver Touré. The attackers  chanted homophobic slogans and threw stones.

On Jan. 25, the headquarters was ransacked. In that attack, the group’s security guard was wounded. He was transported to a hospital in a critical condition. The 22nd district police station is only 10 minutes from the headquarters of Alternative Ivory Coast, but police did not intervene.

During the July 10-11 workshop, Traoré Wodjo Fini was invited to discuss the work of the CNDHCI and to describe its best practices. He said that his organization is investigating the attacks in response to a request  from Ivory Coast’s Attorney General in March 2014.

Preliminary hearings have been held, he said. The Attorney General will be notified of the CNDHCI’s findings after the investigation is complete.

 

Jean Marc Yao, based in Abijan in Ivory Coast, specializes in LGBT issues at LIDHO and is human rights consultant for Alternative Côte d’Ivoire.

 

6 thoughts on “Ivory Coast police chief fired for ignoring anti-gay attack

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