Remembering the Nahibly Camp Massacre

by Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada 

“Nature is growing back, making it look like nothing ever happened here.”  

Those were the sad words of a tenacious local human rights defender as we drove past the ruins of the Nahibly displaced persons camp just outside the town of Duékoué in western Côte d’Ivoire in late February of this year.  The Nahibly Camp, which was home to over 2,500 people, had been totally destroyed seven months earlier, on July 20, 2012, in a massive attack by a mob estimated at 1,000, led by local Dozo militias and including members of the national army.  At least 14 people – almost certainly more – were killed during the attack. Hundreds more were injured. Many more were rounded up and ‘disappeared’ as they fled the camp. Six bodies have since been found in a nearby well but many others are still missing. 

I have travelled to the area as part of two Amnesty International research missions – in September 2012 and February 2013 – and have heard firsthand from survivors of this terrible attack and family members of people who have not been heard of since.  They expressed fear, worry and a determination that there be answers and accountability.  Today we are releasing this new report, marking the first anniversary of the Nahibly attack.  With this report we are joining the voices of survivors and families in demanding truth and justice.  In particular we are calling for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of what happened.  Nature may be reclaiming the site of this human rights tragedy.  But we cannot and will not forget the human rights violations that took place there.