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Sanctions imposed on two West African countries

Troops have been a regular sight in Ivory Coast since a failed coup in 2002 Keystone

Switzerland has imposed an arms embargo, travel restrictions and financial sanctions on Ivory Coast.

This content was published on January 19, 2005 - 13:37

The government also announced on Wednesday that it would tighten existing sanctions against Liberia and freeze assets belonging to the country's former leader Charles Taylor.

The introduction of the measures against Ivory Coast follows recommendations by the United Nations Security Council in November last year.

The Swiss economics ministry said it would wait for a list from the UN sanctions committee before specifying which individuals and companies would be affected.

Officials noted that there had been virtually no weapons exports to Ivory Coast over the past few years.

The world’s top cocoa grower has been split in two since civil war erupted after a failed coup against President Laurent Gbagbo in 2002.

Last November government forces broke a truce in place for almost three years by bombing rebel-held towns in the north.

UN and French troops are trying to maintain a buffer between the warring factions as a shaky peace process continues.

Liberia sanctions

The Swiss government also announced on Wednesday new financial sanctions against Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, who is currently living in exile in Nigeria.

Assets held in Switzerland belonging to Taylor and his entourage have now been frozen.

In 2003 Switzerland blocked around SFr6 million ($5.1 million) belonging to Taylor and his associates following a demand for judicial assistance from the UN war crimes court in Sierra Leone.

Taylor is said to have received diamonds in return for funding rebel groups, the proceeds of which he allegedly stashed in a number of countries, including Switzerland.

But the Swiss federal prosecutor later unblocked Taylor’s accounts after failing to establish any evidence of wrongdoing.

Taylor is accused of crimes against humanity during the civil war in Sierra Leone between 1996 and 2001.

Switzerland said it would be revising existing sanctions against Liberia following a UN Security Council resolution in December. They include bans on arms sales and on the import of raw diamonds and wood.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Swiss government evacuated 130 people – including 24 Swiss citizens – from Ivory Coast in November after fresh fighting erupted between government forces and rebels.

Charles Taylor was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for war crimes on June 4, 2002.

He is charged with supporting rebels responsible for attacks on the civilian population of Sierra Leone during its civil war from 1996 to 2001.

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