UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Interim Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Asylum-Seekers from Côte d’Ivoire
15 June 2012,
These interim Guidelines are issued in the context of an evolving security and human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire, following the inauguration of Alassane Ouattara as President on 6 May 2011, legislative elections in December 2011 and the announcement of a new government on 13 March 2012.
These Guidelines focus on the main profiles of persons who may, depending on the individual details of the case, be in need of international refugee protection due to the events following the November 2010 elections. They do not specifically address protection considerations relating to events prior to November 2010.
The Guidelines apply equally to Ivorians and habitual residents of Côte d’Ivoire who were already outside the country at the start of the post-election crisis, but who may be in need of international protection on the basis of their specific profile as a result of the crisis.
The Guidelines replace previous UNHCR guidance in relation to Côte d’Ivoire, in particular the non-return advisory contained in the 20 January 2011 UNHCR Position on Returns to Côte d’Ivoire.
All claims lodged by asylum-seekers from Côte d’Ivoire, whether on the basis of the refugee criteria contained in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention) and its 1967 Protocol, the 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (OAU Convention), or broader international protection criteria, need to be considered on their own merits according to fair and efficient status determination procedures and up-to-date and relevant country of origin information. This is particularly important in light of the evolving situation in Côte d’Ivoire.
UNHCR considers that individuals with the profiles outlined below may be at particular risk. They include
(i) persons belonging to certain ethnic groups;
(ii) members and supporters of political opposition parties, and individuals with alleged links to former President Gbagbo’s government;
(iii) journalists and other media professionals perceived to be hostile to the Ouattara government;
(iv) individuals suspected of having links with pro-Gbagbo militias; and
(v) women and children with specific profiles.
In light of the unstable security situation in certain parts of Côte d’Ivoire, applications by asylum-seekers from Côte d’Ivoire claiming to face a threat of serious and indiscriminate harm due to a situation of generalized violence or events seriously disturbing public order, without their claim being based on one of the 1951 Convention grounds, need to be assessed carefully on their individual merits.
For individuals from Côte d’Ivoire who have a well-founded fear of persecution emanating from state actors, including the Forces républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI), there is a presumption that an internal flight or relocation alternative is not available. For those who have a well-founded fear of persecution from non-state agents, an IFA/IRA may be relevant, in which case its reasonableness would need to be assessed on an individual basis. It should, however, be kept in mind that IFA/IRA considerations are not relevant for refugees coming under the purview of Article I(2) of the 1969 OAU Convention.
Exclusion considerations under Article 1F of the 1951 Convention and/or Article I(5) of the OAU Convention may arise in individual claims by Ivorian asylum-seekers. With respect to the events following the November 2010 elections, careful consideration needs to be given in particular to the following profiles:
(i) individuals who held a position of authority in the former Gbagbo regime and/or who belonged to Gbagbo’s inner circles;
(ii) individuals who belonged to forces loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo, including the Forces de défense et de sécurité (FDS), the Brigade anti-émeute (BAE), the Centre de commandement des opérations de sécurité (CECOS), and the Compagnie républicaine de sécurité (CRS);
(iii) individuals who belonged to pro-Gbagbo militias, including the Fédération estudiantine et scolaire de Côte d’Ivoire (FESCI), the Jeunes patriotes, and the Front de libération du grand ouest (FLGO);
(iv) individuals who belonged to forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, including the Forces armées des Forces nouvelles (FAFN) and the Forces républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI);
(v) individuals who belonged to pro-Ouattara militias, including the Commando invisible led by Ibrahim Coulibaly;
(vi) Dozos (traditional hunters who aligned themselves with the pro-Ouattara forces during the post-election crisis) and other local militia groups; and
(vii) journalists and others who published statements or writings in support of violence against segments of the Ivorian population in the aftermath of the November 2010 elections.