The country has an ethnically diverse population, with more than 60 ethnic groups. Groups sometimes practiced societal discrimination against others on the basis of ethnicity. Approximately 25 percent of the population was considered foreign, although many within this category were second- or third-
generation residents. Outdated or inadequate land ownership laws reportedly resulted in conflicts with ethnic and xenophobic overtones, often between the native populations and other groups.
Police routinely abused and harassed non-Ivoirian Africans residing in the country and occasionally harassed Lebanese merchants. Harassment by officials reflected the common belief that foreigners were responsible for high crime rates and identity card fraud.
In the postelectoral period, security forces loyal to Gbagbo systematically harassed and targeted persons with northern or Muslim names. Several incidents of ethnic violence resulted in deaths and injuries (see section 1 .g.).
Ethnic tensions in the West and Southwest continued to lead to violence. In the West, and in Duekoue and Bangolo in particular, there continued to be reports of violent clashes between the native population and members of the foreign community, particularly Burkinabe farmers. These reports declined in the second half of the year. The law prohibits xenophobia, racism, and tribalism, making these forms of intolerance punishable by five to 10 years' imprisonment. No one was prosecuted under the law during the year.
Race, Racism and the Law
Vernellia R. Randall
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