Côte d’Ivoire

Last Updated 16 October 2018

A presidential representative democratic republic, Ivory Coast or Côte d’Ivoire experienced a coup d’état in 1999, followed by two religiously-grounded civil wars (2002 to 2007, then 2010 to 2011) with the north of the country largely controlled by Muslim rebels, and the recognised government presiding over the predominantly Christian south.

Systemic Discrimination
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Constitution and government

The constitution of 2000 and other laws and policies protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of opinion and expression. It prohibits religious discrimination in employment and the use of ‘propaganda’ that encourages religious hatred. It is unclear whether non-religious persons are included under this law.

The Department of Faith Based Organisations is entrusted with promoting dialogue between religious groups and with the Government. It also provides administrative support for these groups as well as monitoring their activities and processing the registration of new religious organisations.

Religious groups are not forced to register as there are no penalties for not doing so. However, registered religious groups benefit from government support, including free access to state-run television and radio to provide specifically religious programming. Registered religious groups are also exempt from import duties on items such as religious books and items such as rosaries

Education and children’s rights

Religious education is not included in the public school curriculum but is often included in private schools affiliated with a particular faith. We do not yet have information about the nature of such instruction, or whether religious private schools receive public funding.

Family, community and society

There do not appear to be any statistics on those with non-religious worldviews in the country, though we have also found no reports of abuse targeting atheists or ‘apostates’.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for an attack in March 2016 on Grand Bassam, killing 20 people. The attack was denounced by several religious leaders with the High Council of Imams denouncing the ‘barbaric methods’ of the extremists. The Ahmadiyya Islamic Mission Community was falsely associated with the attackers by media in the country, though they also denounced the attacks.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

The country is divided, politically as well as geographically, between its predominantly Muslim North and predominantly Christian South. The sectarian conflict has ebbed and flowed, but the government has generally respected freedom of religion or belief per se.

Political turmoil and civil conflict resurged after the disputed presidential election in December 2010 infringing some freedoms, including freedom of the press and freedom to peaceably assemble. The situation has been improving since 2011, however some concerns remain that the government has failed to investigate some other serious human rights violations. The root causes of conflict remain in place and there is sporadic violence and political tension.

Freedom House rates Ivory Coast as only “Partly Free”, citing as hindrances to freedom the threat of violence, endemic corruption, citizenship issues for thousands of people in the north, gender-based violence, as well as prolonged pre-trial detention, impunity, or lack of due process in justice matters.

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