Wednesday, January 23, 2019

SACP Welcomes the Decision to Release Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo
16 January 2019

The SACP welcomes the decision announced on Tuesday, 15 January 2019 by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to be released; this after the ICC judges acquitted him on charges of “crimes against humanity”. The judges ruled that the prosecutors failed to produce proof to back the allegations; however, they concluded that their decision can be overturned on appeal. This sounds purely legal but could prove to be underpinned by problematic aspects given the manner – which leaves much to be desired – in which the ICC has handled prosecutions. The SACP reiterates its call, for an unconditional release of Gbagbo with immediate effect.

On 17 November 2018 the SACP released a statement calling for Gbagbo’s release, precisely because there was no evidence produced since his arrest in April 2011. Nevertheless, following his arrest Gbagbo has effectively been forced to serve an imprisonment sentence of approximately eight years under the auspices of the ICC. This is unjust. The issue of reparation for the harm caused; the unjust time that Gbagbo effectively served by way of the unjust detention and every loss associated with it, cannot be left unattended.

Let us recall why Gbagbo was arrested. Gbagbo challenged the outcome of the Ivorian presidential election held in 2010. Alleging electoral fraud, he called for results from nine of Ivory Coast’s regions to be annulled. The Constitutional Council, which determines disputes and proclaims results, in terms of the country’s Constitution, declared him the winner. However, Alessane Ouattara was declared and recognised the winner by sections of election observers, including foreign election observers; the “international community” through related institutions. Gbagbo was arrested thereafter following a short period of conflict in which the recognition of Ouattara was disputed. 

This blatant undermining of justice cannot help but result in a conclusion that the trial was indeed a farce. The revelations by Médiapart, a French online investigative newspaper, have brought to light the actions of certain high officials of French diplomacy, especially those who had already served at the ICC as colleagues of its prosecutor and others who even still work there in the trial process. France was found to have been involved in the procedure at all stages – the referral to the ICC, the request for investigation, the decision to open an investigation and the transfer of Gbagbo. The SACP condems the imperialist interference in the national affairs of Ivory Coast calls for France to be held accountable and for complete justice for Gbagbo.

Faced with a clear lack of evidence, instead of taking a decision to reverse the charges and consequently release Gbagbo, the ICC opted for an adjournment, while asking the prosecutor to provide additional evidence.   The ICC failed to demonstrate neutrality, fairness and objectivity.



Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo
National Spokesperson & Head of Communications
Mobile: +27 76 316 9816
Skype: MashiloAM


Hlengiwe Nkonyane:
Communications Officer - Media Liaison Services, Digital and Social Media Co-ordinator
Mobile: +27 79 384 6550


Office: +2711 339 3621/2
Twitter: SACP1921
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