Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 12:56 GMT

The Worst of the Worst 2011 - Côte d'Ivoire

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 1 June 2011
Cite as Freedom House, The Worst of the Worst 2011 - Côte d'Ivoire, 1 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e049a4ac.html [accessed 18 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 22,000,000
Capital: Yamoussoukro (official), Abidjan (de facto)

Political Rights: 7 ↓
Civil Liberties: 6 ↓
Status: Not Free

Ten-Year Ratings Timeline for Year under Review
(Political Rights, Civil Liberties, Status)
Year Under Review2001200220032004200520062007200820092010
Rating5,4,PF6,6,NF6,5,NF6,6,NF6,6,NF7,6,NF7,5,NF6,5,NF6,5,NF7,6,NF

Ratings Change: Côte d'Ivoire's political rights rating declined from 6 to 7 and its civil liberties rating declined from 5 to 6 due to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to step down or recognize the November 2010 electoral victory of opposition presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara, as well as political violence that stemmed from the postelection standoff, including state security forces' targeting of ethnic minority groups that supported Ouattara.

2010 Key Developments: A long-delayed presidential election, required under a 2007 peace accord signed by Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro, was finally held in 2010 despite the failure of a disarmament program and problems with the voter registration process. While the October first round was peaceful and deemed relatively free and fair by the international community, Gbagbo refused to concede his loss to the internationally recognized winner of the November runoff, Alassane Ouattara. A curfew was imposed, international media were banned, and the country's borders were closed as violence escalated between the two men's supporters at year's end.

Political Rights: Côte d'Ivoire is not an electoral democracy. The constitution provides for the popular election of a president and a 225-seat unicameral National Assembly for five-year terms. However, the last legislative elections were held in 2000, and the 2010 presidential election degenerated into a violent stalemate, with both candidates declaring themselves president and the prime minister resigning in protest. Corruption is a serious problem, and perpetrators rarely face prosecution or public exposure. Earnings from informal taxes and the sale of cocoa, cotton, and weapons have given many of those in power – including members of the military and rebel forces – an incentive to obstruct peace and political normalization.

Civil Liberties: Despite constitutional protections, press freedom is generally not respected in practice. Violence against journalists increased in the period surrounding the 2010 presidential election. Legal guarantees of religious freedom are typically upheld. However, the north-south political divide corresponds roughly with the distribution of the Muslim and Christian populations, and the voter registration effort of recent years was designed in part to address claims of disenfranchisement among Muslim ethnic groups. The government, which owns most educational facilities, inhibits academic freedom by requiring authorization for all political meetings held on campuses. The constitution protects the right to free assembly, but it is often denied in practice. While workers have the constitutional right to organize and join labor unions, a number of strikes were harshly suppressed in 2010. The judiciary is not independent. Judges are political appointees without tenure and are highly susceptible to external interference and bribes. Côte d'Ivoire has made symbolic efforts to combat child trafficking, but tens of thousands of children from all over the region are believed to be working on Ivorian plantations. Women suffer widespread discrimination, and rape associated with the country's various armed factions was a serious problem in 2010.

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