Security checkpoint extortion costs Ivory Coast millions

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A new report finds that extortion at checkpoints is costing Ivory Coast millions each year despite government steps to eradicate the practice.

Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that security forces are still asking travelers for money four years after Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s government said it would end the practice.

The money gets seized from those transporting commercial goods and immigrants at illegal checkpoints at a cost to the economy of some $567 million.

Jim Wormington, a researcher with the group, says while there has been some progress in recent years, poor Ivorians are still being forced to pay up. If they refuse to pay, they can be detained.

Human Rights Watch is calling on the Ivorian government to step up its efforts to investigate and prosecute violators.

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