United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1993 - Côte d'Ivoire, 30 January 1994, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa4844.html [accessed 27 January 2015]
This 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.
COTE D'IVOIRE Power in Cote d'Ivoire was concentrated in President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, the country's leader since independence, and in the political party he founded, the Democratic Party of Cote d'Ivoire (PDCI). Genuine reforms have resulted in multiple political parties and opposition groups as well as a vigorous free press, but Houphouet-Boigny and the PDCI, winners of the 1990 elections, continued to dominate all levels of government. Houphouet-Boigny's 33-year rule ended with his death on December 7, but his legacy continued as Henri Konan Bedie, National Assembly President, PDCI stalwart, and Houphouet-Boigny's constitutionally designated successor, assumed the Presidency without incident. Cote d'Ivoire's security forces include the national police (Surete) and the Gendarmerie, a branch of the armed forces with responsibility for general law enforcement. The Gendarmerie is the primary police organization outside the cities and is under the Ministry of Defense. The total personnel of the uniformed services, which includes the military forces and the gendarmes (but not the police), is 16,000. The armed forces traditionally have accepted the primacy of civilian authority. Security forces were responsible for a number of human rights abuses in 1993, including extrajudicial killing of criminal suspects. Agriculture is the keystone of Cote d'Ivoire's economy. During the 1980's, Cote d'Ivoire was squeezed by a heavy debt burden and falling prices for its exports, principally cocoa, coffee, and tropical woods. Per capita annual income slipped in recent years from well over $1,000 to below $800. After reaching agreement with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on a stabilization program in 1991, the Government reduced its budget deficit, instituted changes in the tax and labor codes, and announced an ambitious program of privatization and administrative reform. Progress, however, has been slow. The sometimes heightened political tensions of recent years were noticeably lower in 1993, with fewer instances of politically motivated abuses, such as arrests and detentions, travel restrictions, and harassment. The presence of opposition groups, other independent organizations, and a vigorous free press continued to improve both awareness and observance of human rights on a day-to-day basis. However, in 1993 there continued to be serious human rights abuses. Members of the security forces, mainly the police and forest rangers (an armed unit under the authority of the Ministry of Agriculture), again carried out extrajudicial killings of criminal suspects and beat and abused detainees. They sometimes used beatings to extract confessions or as punishment. Many of these extrajudicial actions were the result of the authorities relaxing restrictions in 1992 on the police to help combat the extremely high crime rate in Abidjan. Abuse of authority by law enforcement personnel, who extort money at numerous roadblocks for contrived minor infractions from people traveling by private or public conveyance, is an example of the Government's failure to apply proper discipline to and control over law enforcement officials. There continued to be serious questions about the independence of the Ivorian judiciary, which appeared to be subject to external political influences.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no known political killings by government forces in 1993. However, following the Government's relaxation of restrictions in 1992 on the use of deadly force by security forces against armed suspects, there were new incidents in 1993 of the forces killing suspects during apprehension. There were also repeated reports, including in the media, that the security forces killed alleged perpetrators after their arrest. Malefactors in the security forces are punished, and cases against several persons remained pending in the courts at the end of the year.
There were no reports of officially sanctioned abduction or disappearance.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Police sometimes beat detainees in order to punish them or to extract confessions. Television footage and press photographs regularly show criminal detainees with swollen or bruised faces and bodies, possibly indicating police mistreatment during arrest or detention. Prisoners are often treated in a degrading or humiliating manner. For example, there were reports of prisoners held unclothed or clad only in undershorts, chained in pairs, and kept in cells measuring only 4 square meters without running water or electricity. In particular, non-Ivorian Africans residing in Cote d'Ivoire (who represent a third of the total population) are routinely treated more roughly by police on arrest than are Ivorians. In 1993 there were reported instances of officials being punished for mistreatment of detainees or prisoners. The Ivorian media also reported several incidents of poor treatment of prisoners, including reports of deaths at the hands of security forces. Sanitary conditions in prisons are abysmal and are responsible for a high death rate. Common problems include overcrowding, malnutrition, infectious diseases, and infestation by vermin. In 1993 the Ivorian media published several reports on prison conditions, leading to severe public condemnation by human rights organizations and opposition political figures, many of whom had spent time in prison in 1992. Following this, the Government took steps to upgrade prison conditions in selected facilities. At Maca, the nation's largest detention facility, the Government rehabilitated the prison's workshop, bakery, and carpentry shop, and agricultural projects were introduced at several other prisons, allowing prisoners to grow some of their own food. A prison riot in March in Abidjan resulted in 4 prisoners killed and 19 wounded when police used excessive force in attempting to quell the riot.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Under the Code of Penal Procedure, a public prosecutor may order the detention of a suspect for up to 48 hours without bringing charges. The Code dictates that longer detention must be ordered by a magistrate, who may authorize detention for up to 4 months, but who must also provide the Minister of Justice a written justification for continued detention on a monthly basis. However, the law is often violated. Police have held persons for more than 48 hours without bringing charges. Defendants are not guaranteed the right to a judicial determination of the legality of their detention. In contrast to 1992, when the Government detained large numbers of political activists who had not used or advocated violence, no such arrests were known to have occurred in 1993. The Government does not use exile as a means of political control.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The modern judicial system is headed by a Supreme Court and includes the Court of Appeals and lower courts. The judiciary is theoretically independent of the executive branch in ordinary criminal cases. In practice, as well as under the Constitution's separation of powers provisions, the judiciary follows the lead of the executive in cases concerning perceived national security or political issues. There is not a clear separation between the judicial and executive branches of government. There are credible reports that the courts give lenient treatment to individuals with personal ties to the Government. The Government, in turn, has asserted itself in matters pertaining to the judiciary; for example, a government official attempted at the last minute to cancel a long-planned judicial seminar involving both Ivorian and American jurists. Though a truncated version of the seminar finally took place a day later than planned, the resulting controversy greatly reduced attendance. Ivorian law establishes the right to a public trial, although key evidence is sometimes given in camera. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials, and their innocence is presumed. Those convicted have the right of appeal, though in practice verdicts are rarely overturned. Defendants accused of felonies or capital crimes have the right to legal counsel, and the judicial system provides for court-appointed attorneys for indigent defendants. In practice, many defendants cannot afford private counsel, and court-appointed attorneys are not readily available. In rural areas, justice is often administered at the village level through traditional institutions which handle domestic disputes, minor land questions, and family law. Dispute resolution is by extended debate, with no known instances of resort to physical punishment. These traditional courts are being increasingly superseded by the formal judicial system. Civilians are not tried by military courts. Although there are no appellate courts within the military court system, persons convicted by a military tribunal may petition the Supreme Court to set aside the tribunal's verdict and order a retrial. There were no known political detainees or prisoners in 1993.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
In Cote d'Ivoire's multiparty political system, citizens are free to join, or not join, any political party. However, public officials and employees of state-owned corporations are subject to pressure to become members of the PDCI. Party membership applications are sometimes passed to employees by their supervisors, and those who fail to sign up are believed to suffer in terms of promotion. The Code of Penal Procedure specifies that a police official or investigative magistrate may conduct searches of homes without a judicial warrant if there is reason to believe that there is evidence on the premises concerning a crime. The official must have the prosecutor's agreement to retain any objects seized in the search and is required to have witnesses to the search, which may not take place between the hours of 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. In practice, the police sometimes use a general search warrant without a name or address. On occasion, the police have entered homes of non-Ivorian Africans (or rounded them up on the streets), taken them to local police stations, and extorted small amounts of money for alleged minor offenses. Security forces monitor some private telephone conversations, but the extent of the practice is unknown. There is no evidence that private correspondence is monitored.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of expression. Independent newspapers criticized government policies frequently and also made unfavorable comments concerning the President of the Republic. The two government-owned daily newspapers offer some censure of government policy, although, in general, government-owned radio and television do not. The opposition press, ordinary citizens, opposition political party leaders, and student groups voice their disapproval of government or Presidential actions frequently and loudly. Although such criticism is tolerated, insults or attacks on the honor of the country's highest officials are not. It is a crime, punishable by from 3 months to 2 years in prison, to offend the President, the Prime Minister, foreign chiefs of state or government, or their diplomatic representatives, or to defame institutions of the State. Moreover, a press law enacted in late 1991 created a new commission to enforce laws against publishing material "undermining the reputation of the nation or defaming institutions of the State." Although this law was not used to prosecute any newspaper publisher or journalist in 1993, it imposes stiff penalties, including the seizure of offending newspapers. The Government owns both television networks although there is one private television subscription service, Canal Horizon and the major radio station. There are also four independent radio stations operating in the Cote d'Ivoire. The Government continues to exercise considerable influence over official media program content, news coverage, and other matters, using these media to promote its policies. Much of the news programming is devoted to coverage of the activities of the President, the Government, and the PDCI, but the amount of coverage given to the political opposition continues to increase. In 1993 the Government granted licenses to operate five radio stations and one television channel to private organizations, though none of the applicants with ties to the political opposition was selected. Of the five daily newspapers, those with the widest circulation, Fraternite-Matin and Ivoire Soir, are government owned, though in 1993 both newspapers ran stories critical of government policies and increased significantly their coverage of the political opposition. A third daily, La Voie, with circulation figures approaching those of the government-owned dailies, is owned by members of the Ivoirian Popular Front, Cote d'Ivoire's principal opposition party. The fourth daily, Bonsoir, devotes most of its space to stories of general interest, and the fifth only began circulation in September. Most of the weekly newspapers are affiliated either with the ruling or opposition political parties. Foreign publications circulated freely. Many prominent Ivorian scholars are active in opposition politics and have not suffered professionally. The Government insists, however, that teachers separate their political activity from their work in the classroom. There are reports that the police have used informers at the University of Abidjan to provide data on dissident political activity.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly, but in practice that freedom is restricted when the Government perceives a danger to public order. Although opposition parties believe that the Constitution permits private associations of any sort, the Government disagrees, and all organizations must register before commencing activities. There were no reports in the past 2 years of registration being denied. Further, Ivorian law prohibits the formation of political parties along ethnic or religious lines. The past several years have seen a proliferation of nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) addressing social, political, environmental, and other issues. In 1991 the Government made an administrative decision to ban the Federation of Ivorian Students (FESCI). Though the ban remains in effect, it was not enforced in 1993, allowing the FESCI to operate openly. Permits are required for public meetings and are sometimes denied to the opposition but never to the PDCI. Gatherings occasionally are prohibited to prevent the expression of controversial views in public forums. In February 1992, the Government banned all outdoor public meetings "until further notice"; that ban has not been rescinded, though it is no longer strictly enforced. An "antivandal" law passed by the National Assembly in 1992 holds organizers of a march or demonstration responsible if any of the participants engage in violence. The law was condemned by all major opposition parties and by the Ivorian Human Rights League (LIDHO) as being unduly vague and for imposing collective punishment for the crimes of a few. The law was not applied in 1993, although there were several instances when it could have been utilized, and it had no noticeable effect in restricting demonstrations.
c. Freedom of Religion
There are no known impediments to religious expression. There is no dominant religion, and no faith is officially favored by the Government. The open practice of religion is permitted, and there are no restrictions on religious ceremonies or teaching.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Government exercises minimal control over domestic travel. However, one of the most pervasive hindrances to freedom of movement and commerce within the country is the practice of establishing unauthorized internal roadblocks at which uniformed law enforcement officials extort small amounts of money or goods for contrived or minor infractions by motorists or passengers on public conveyances. This practice affects both Ivorian and foreign travelers and is a flagrant example of the misuse of authority and lack of discipline of law enforcement personnel. Ivorians normally can travel abroad and emigrate freely, and they have the right of voluntary repatriation. There are no known cases of revocation of citizenship. In 1993 the Government twice denied permission to travel to international meetings to the head of the LIDHO under the pretext that he was neglecting his duties as dean of the university law faculty. For this reason he was unable to attend the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. Cote d'Ivoire's refugee and asylum practices are liberal. The Government respects the right to first asylum, and no groups are denied recognition as refugees, either by law or custom. Refugees normally receive 1-year renewable resident visas for their first 5 years in the country, after which they may apply for permanent residence. Cote d'Ivoire does not offer permanent resettlement to refugees who have been granted temporary asylum elsewhere. Cote d'Ivoire currently hosts some 260,000 refugees from the Liberian civil war, and the Government was actively involved in managing Liberian refugee relief, though most resources came from foreign donors. While the first influx of Liberian refugees received refugee status on entry, the large numbers that followed prompted the Government to initiate an application process, by which each refugee's status is determined by an interagency committee that includes representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Those not granted refugee status are allowed to remain in the country but are not allowed to benefit from any refugee assistance programs. Since the Government expects that Liberian refugees will repatriate when conditions permit, no provisions have been made for their attaining permanent residence in Cote d'Ivoire. No cases of involuntary repatriation were reported in 1993. Political exiles from a number of countries have found Cote d'Ivoire a hospitable safe haven as long as they do not engage in political activities directed against their home governments.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Citizens have this right, although many in the ruling PDCI continue to block needed reforms and to engage in practices that do not encourage further democratization. Multiple parties were permitted in the 1990 presidential, legislative, and municipal elections whose results were generally accepted as legitimate, despite numerous flaws and fraud. Although under the Constitution only Ivorian citizens are entitled to vote, the electoral law, which is promulgated for each election, has in recent years extended voting rights to non-Ivorian Africans living in Cote d'Ivoire, who constitute approximately one-third of the country's population. This anomaly persists because only the President of the Republic and the President of the National Assembly have the standing to challenge the constitutionality of the electoral law, and neither has chosen to do so. Balloting is done in secret. The President is both Head of State and president of the PDCI. An appointed Prime Minister, who serves at the pleasure of the President, controls day-to-day governmental affairs and economic policy. With 3 seats vacant, the PDCI holds 162 of the 175 seats in the National Assembly, which in practice is subordinate to the executive branch. Effectively, therefore, the President and the PDCI control all aspects of Ivorian political life. There are no restrictions in law or practice on the participation of women in politics, and they play an active role in Ivorian society and government. There are two female Ministers in the Cabinet (Minister of Communications and Minister of Family and the Protection of Women) as well as a female director of the social security system. Women play a limited but noticeable role in the legislature; while only 8 of the 175 deputies in the National Assembly are women, 5 of the 36 leadership positions in the Assembly are held by females. Two members of the Supreme Court are women.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
An internal independent human rights organization, the Ivorian League of Human Rights (LIDHO), was formed in 1987 and was recognized by the Government in July 1990. The League has actively investigated alleged violations of human rights and issued press releases and reports, some of which have been critical of the Government. In 1991 the Ivorian Association for the Promotion of Human Rights was established for the purpose of improving Ivorians' awareness of their basic rights. The Government has been cooperative towards international inquiries into its human rights practices.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, or religion is against the law. Although French is the official language and the language of instruction in the public schools, radio and television programs are also broadcast in major national languages. Social and economic mobility are not limited by policy or custom on the basis of ethnicity or religion, although there are pronounced inequalities based on sex, with males clearly in the preponderant role.
Some Ivorian traditional societies accord women considerable political and economic power. In rural areas, tribal customs dictate that menial tasks are performed mostly by women, although farm work by men is also common. Government policy encourages full participation by women in social and economic life, but there is considerable informal resistance among employers in hiring women, who may be considered undependable by virtue of potential pregnancy. Women are underrepresented in some professions and in the managerial sector as a whole. Women in the formal sector, however, are paid on an equal scale with men and also enjoy maternity benefits. There are no reliable figures available on the percentage of women in the work force. Several Ivorian NGO's address the legal, economic, and social welfare of women, and there is a government ministry devoted to women's affairs. Violence against women, especially wife beating, is neither widely practiced nor tacitly condoned. However, representatives of women's organizations state that wife beating does occur and often leads to divorce. Doctors state that they rarely see the victims of such violence. A severe social stigma is attached to such violence; neighbors will often intervene in a domestic quarrel to protect a woman who is the object of physical abuse. The courts and police view such domestic violence as a family problem unless serious bodily harm is inflicted or the victim lodges a complaint, in which case criminal proceedings may take place. The Government has no clear-cut policy regarding spouse abuse beyond the obvious strictures against violence in the Civil Code.
Cote d'Ivoire is a signatory to the U.N. International Charter on Human Rights, which contains sections promoting the health and education of children, and its Penal Code contains sections protecting children from infanticide and other violence and abandonment. The Ministries of Social Affairs and of Health and Social Protection are both charged with safeguarding the welfare of children, and the Government has also encouraged the formation of NGO's centered on children's issues, such as the Abidjan Legal Center for the Defense of Children. There is a parental preference for educating boys rather than girls, which is noticeable throughout the country but more pronounced in rural areas. According to a 1991 U.N. report, females in Cote d'Ivoire receive only one-third of the schooling of males. Sexual harassment of female students by male teachers is commonplace. Female genital mutilation is illegal in Cote d'Ivoire but is nevertheless practiced, particularly among the rural population in the north and west. The operation is usually performed on young girls or at puberty as part of a rite of passage; it is generally done outside modern medical facilities and may be extremely painful and dangerous to health. The Government does not make strong efforts to prevent the practice, and social pressures are sufficiently intense that it persists, particularly in small villages, where the chief is the primary decisionmaker and village elders hold great influence. According to an independent expert in the field, the percentage of Ivorian women who have undergone genital mutilation may be as high as 60 percent. Excision is becoming less common as the population becomes urbanized and better educated.
People with Disabilities
There are no laws mandating accessibility for the disabled. Laws do exist prohibiting the abandonment of the mentally or physically handicapped, as well as acts of violence directed at them. Traditional practices, beliefs, and superstitions vary, but infants with serious disabilities have usually not been allowed to live, though this has changed since independence in 1960. The above laws were designed to combat this traditional practice and have resulted in some curtailment in the practice in recent years. Disabled adults are not the specific targets of abuse, but it is difficult for them to compete with able-bodied workers in the tight job market. The Government supports special schools, associations, and artisans' cooperatives for the disabled. The Ministry of Health and Social Protection has been working since 1992 on legislation to protect the rights of the disabled. The media increasingly addressed the issue in 1993, citing progress made but calling for more to be done.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
Workers have the right to form unions under the Labor Code of 1964, but union membership is not mandatory. For almost 30 years, the government-sponsored labor confederation, the General Union of Workers of Cote d'Ivoire (UGTCI), dominated union activity, except for the independent university teachers', secondary school teachers', and doctors' unions. In 1991 several formerly UGTCI-affiliated unions, including those representing transport, media, customs, and bank workers, broke away and became independent. In 1992 a total of 11 formerly independent unions joined together to form the Federation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Cote d'Ivoire (FESCACI). A third labor federation, Dignite, has attracted few members. The leader of the UGTCI occupies a senior position in the PDCI hierarchy. The UGTCI is a relatively passive coordination mechanism rather than an active force for worker rights, although it has had some success in improving working conditions and safety standards. The UGTCI represents approximately one-third to one-half of the organizable work force. Non-UGTCI unions tend to be more activist than those within the UGTCI structure and to be identified with opposition causes. The Government's response to its loss of control over the labor movement has been to create rival unions in important sectors, such as university faculty, post and telecommunications, public transport, and radio and television, and to grant these unions special economic concessions. The World Confederation of Labor (WCL) charges that the Government sought to prevent a landslide victory of the WCL's Ivorian affiliate, Dignite, in national trade union elections in early 1993 by imposing a single election ticket of UGTCI in major enterprises and the port of Abidjan. These and other complaints alleging antiunion discrimination, intimidation, and denial of recognition of Dignite, as well as the harassment and arrest of leaders of the independent teachers' union, Synares, during the period 1990-92, continued under investigation by the International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee on Freedom of Association in 1993. The Government did not repress union activities or detain any union officials in 1993, but some of the participants in a 1991 protest march, who were alleged to have destroyed property, remain in detention. The Government officially recognized Dignite in 1993. The right to strike is provided by the Constitution and by statute. The ILO's Committee of Experts in 1993, however, reiterated earlier observations that the Labor Code gives the President excessive power to submit an industrial dispute to compulsory arbitration in order to bring an end to a strike. The Labor Code requires a protracted series of negotiations and a 6-day notification period before a strike may be held, effectively making legal strikes difficult to organize. Strikes are seldom called by the UGTCI; however, non-UGTCI unions freely strike. In 1993 hospital employees, telecommunications and postal workers, teachers, railroad employees, and staff at the Presidency and at a scientific research institute held strikes. Each of these strikes involved public sector workers. In each instance, the Government was able to meet some, although not all, of the demands presented by the unions, and the strikes were called off. In some cases, these unions went out on strike more than once during the year to protest arrearages in payment of salaries or other benefits that had been promised during earlier negotiations. Strikes in December involved teachers and electrical and health workers and were called off as a mark of respect after President Houphouet-Boigny's death was announced December 7, though agitation by university students continued. The UGTCI, which is a member of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, formally prohibits its individual trade unions from forming or maintaining affiliations with other international organizations in their fields. Non-UGTCI unions and confederations may freely affiliate with international bodies, as is the case of Dignite with its WCL affiliation.
b. The Right To Organize and Bargain Collectively
The Labor Code grants all Ivorians the right to join unions and to bargain collectively. Collective bargaining agreements are in effect in many major business enterprises and sectors of the civil service. In most cases in which wages are not established in direct negotiations between unions and employers, salaries are set by job categories by the Ministry of Employment and Civil Service. Labor inspectors have the responsibility to enforce a law which prohibits antiunion discrimination. Nonetheless, the ILO is reviewing charges that the Government practices such discrimination. There are no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
There have been no reports of forced labor, which is prohibited by law. However, the ILO's Committee of Experts in its annual report questioned a decree that places certain categories of prisoners at the disposal of private enterprises for work assignments without their apparent consent.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
In most instances, the legal minimum working age is 16, and the Ministry of Employment and Civil Service enforces this provision effectively in the civil service and in large multinational companies. Ivorian labor law limits the hours of young workers, defined as those under 18, compared to the regular work force. However, children often work on family farms, and in cities some children routinely act as vendors in the informal sector. There are also reports of children working in what could be described as sweatshop conditions in small workshops. Many children leave the formal school system at an early age; primary education is mandatory but far from universally enforced, particularly in rural areas.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
Cote d'Ivoire has administratively determined monthly minimum wage rates which were last adjusted in January 1986. A slightly higher rate applies to construction workers. Minimum wage rates are enforced only with respect to salaried workers employed by the Government or registered with the Social Security Office. Minimum wages vary according to occupation, with the lowest set at approximately $115 (CFA Francs 33,279) per month, insufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. The majority of Ivorians work in agriculture or in the informal sector where the minimum wage does not apply. Through the Ministry of Employment and the Civil Service, the Government enforces a comprehensive Labor Code governing the terms and conditions of service for wage earners and salaried workers and providing for occupational safety and health standards. Those employed in the formal sector are reasonably protected against unjust compensation, excessive hours, and arbitrary discharge from employment. The standard legal workweek is 40 hours. The law requires overtime payment on a graduated scale for additional hours. The Ivorian Labor Code provides for at least one 24-hour rest period per week. Government labor inspectors are empowered to order employers to improve substandard conditions and, if the employer fails to comply, fines may be levied by a labor court. In the large informal sector of the economy, however, involving both urban and rural workers, the Government's occupational health and safety regulations are enforced erratically at best. Ivorian workers in the formal sector have the right, under the Labor Code, to remove themselves from dangerous work without jeopardy to continued employment by utilizing the Ministry of Labor inspection system to document dangerous workplace conditions. However, workers in the informal sector are unlikely to be able to remove themselves from such labor without losing their employment.