By Anjie Zheng
On 23 February 2012, Pre-Trial Chamber III of the ICC authorized expanding the investigation in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire to include atrocities under the Court's jurisdiction that occurred between 19 September 2002 and 28 November 2010.
This greatly broadens the scope of the investigation. In 3 October 2011, the Court had authorized investigating only alleged crimes committed after 28 November 2010 in the West African nation. Yet violence in Côte d’Ivoire dates back to an attempted coup in 2002, which prompted political turmoil.
During the 2010 elections, former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo initially refused to concede defeat to current president Alassane Ouattara. In the ensuing dispute, over 3000 people were allegedly killed, 72 disappeared, and 520 subject to arbitrary arrest and detentions. Additionally, over 100 people reported cases of rape.
The newly expanded investigation will treat the alleged 2002-2010 crimes as a single situation in the "ongoing crisis involving a prolonged political dispute and power-struggle culminated in the events in relation to which the Chamber earlier authorised an investigation."
Although Côte d’Ivoire is not a State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, it has nonetheless accepted the jurisdiction of the Court. This is the first time the Court has opened up a case in such circumstances.