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Ivory Coast Table of Contents

Ivory Coast

Public Response: "Psychose Sécuritaire"

Crime and security have become major public concerns in Côte d'Ivoire. The alarming increase in crime rates, particularly in Abidjan, has induced a psychose sécuritaire (obsession with security) among Ivoirians. Frequently thefts and armed robberies, often accompanied by violence, have led some neighborhoods and businesses to form defense committees to protect their lives and property. Private security firms also have prospered in the cities, especially in Abidjan, filling the growing gap between levels of crime and police protection. Various communal and business interest groups have provided equipment and resources to the overtaxed and underequipped public security forces. The most notable recent example was the Abidjan bankers' contribution of motor vehicles to the new bank surveillance unit. The Union of Burkinabé in Côte d'Ivoire also donated ten vehicles to the police during 1983 and 1984. The Lebanese community, whose estimated 100,000 to 300,000 members control much of the retail trade, contributed twenty vehicles and 200,000 liters of fuel to security forces, and the Italian business community donated fifty-five Fiat vehicles to the police. France also has furnished substantial assistance to the paramilitary forces. After Houphouët-Boigny made an obviously undeliverable promise in November 1983 to rid the country of banditry within five months, the French government promptly donated about 100 Peugeot-504 diesel vehicles to the National Gendarmerie. In 1984 France also dispatched a special police brigade to reinforce Ivoirian counterparts. Despite such self-help and French support, in early 1988 there was no indication that the magnitude of Côte d'Ivoire's crime problem would diminish or that the capacity of the security forces to control it would improve.

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Given the specialized nature of the material and the protectiveness of Ivoirian security services, there is no comprehensive study covering Ivoirian national security. Much of the material in this chapter came from periodicals like Afrique défense, its English-language counterpart Africa Defence, Africa Research Bulletin, Marchés tropicaux et méditerranéens, and Fréres d'armes. Other sources were annual publications, such as The Military Balance published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers produced by the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and Country Reports on Human Rights Practices produced by the United States Department of State. Material on the administrative structure of security forces came from L'Administration ivoirienne, by Hugues Tay and Guide des institutions politiques et administratives by Albert Aggrey. The main sources for information on crime and the criminal justice system included the Ivoirian daily Fraternité matin and the Abidjan Institute of Criminology's published conference proceedings titled First West African Conference in Comparative Criminology. Also useful was Crime and Modernization by Louise Shelley. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of November 1988