Extortion and racketeering by state authorities the Forces nouvelles
"The Ivorian government's almost complete failure to disarm former rebel and militia forces and re-establish legal institutions in western Côte d'Ivoire has allowed an ever-growing lawlessness to take root. Violence is particularly severe in the administrative regions of Moyen Cavally and Dix-Huit Montagnes, where well-armed criminal gangs regularly attack public transport vehicles, rob passengers, and systematically rape women on board. The same criminal groups terrorize communities by attacking houses, people working in fields, and women walking home from market. The result is a paralyzing fear that has largely destroyed residents' way of life. State institutions tasked with preventing violence and holding perpetrators accountable have largely failed to act, allowing a dangerous culture of impunity to develop. Police and gendarmes have routinely refused to protect residents under attack, or to pursue and investigate criminal gangs. Indeed, security forces have often made extortion and harassment their main activity, reserving particularly harsh abuse for perceived immigrants. In Dix-Huit Montagnes, still largely under the de facto control of the Forces Nouvelles--an alliance of rebel factions from the north and west active since the 2002-2003 conflict--rebels also prey on the population, extorting tens of millions of dollars from checkpoints, businesses, and the cocoa and timber industries each year. The report is based on interviews with more than 80 victims and witnesses of sexual violence, general criminality, and extortion, as well as some 40 others, including government officials, law enforcement and military personnel, rebel soldiers, and representatives from the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations. Afraid and Forgotten calls on the government of Côte d'Ivoire to re-establish the rule of law in the far west, improve security through proactive patrolling and investigating crimes, and hold accountable police and judicial officials who extort and abuse the population."--P.  of cover.