Central African Republic: Amnesty names key suspects in new report
More than six months since the conflict in Central African Republic (CAR) escalated, large-scale killings and mutilation of civilians have continued unabated in the country and there has been an almost complete failure to hold those responsible to account, Amnesty International said today as it published the names of some of those suspected of ordering or committing the atrocities.
Amnesty’s new 62-page report documents the serious abuses committed by both anti-balaka (Christian) and seleka (Muslim) militias. It also highlights the grievous human rights violations committed by Chadian troops.
Report: CAR: Time for Accountability (PDF)
Amnesty identifies a number of high-profile leaders including ex-Presidents François Bozizé and Michel Djotodia. Others named in the report include: Nourredine Adam; Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona; Levy Yakété; Colonel Bishara; Colonel Aba Tom; Captain Joackim Kokaté; Leopold Narcisse Baro; Armel Sayo Bedaya; Baba Laddé, Captain Gilbert Kamizulaye; Guere Poro; General Mango Lampetit; Commander 'Rambo'; Richard Bejouane; Colonel '12 puissance'; Colonel Dieudonné; Colonel Yussuf Hamed; and Colonel Yahya.
Whilst most of the suspects identified by Amnesty are living openly in CAR, some are staying in other countries including Chad and France. Amnesty has said that those countries have an obligation to investigate allegations and, if the evidence is sufficient, to prosecute or extradite the suspects so they can face justice.
Amnesty International’s Central African Republic researcher Christian Mukosa, said:
“The net is closing in on those responsible for human rights abuses.
“Their names and whereabouts are known. Those responsible for leaving hundreds of thousands of innocent people with nowhere to hide from their murderous violence must be given nowhere to hide from justice.
“If the Central African Republic is to recover from the killing spree that has taken place since December, it is imperative that those who masterminded, committed or participated in war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious human rights abuses are brought to account.
“The establishment of the Special Investigation Cell, the UN commission of inquiry and the fact that the ICC has already opened a preliminary examination on the situation in the country send a clear message that impunity will not be tolerated. But there is much more that needs to be done to ensure effective accountability.”
One witness told how Colonel Yussuf Hamad led a group of seleka searching a hospital for anti-balaka fighters. “He threatened to kill everyone in the hospital if we didn’t show them the anti-balaka,” said a witness who told Amnesty that a man was taken away from the hospital by Colonel Yussuf Hamad and later found dead nearby.
International peacekeepers fail to stop violence
The presence of international peacekeepers has failed to put an end to the violence. Peacekeeping forces, including Chadian soldiers, have even been involved in serious human rights violations. The most serious incident occurred on 29 March when Chadian soldiers opened fire on civilians in a Bangui market and, according to the UN, killed at least 30 people and injured 300.
Despite the urgency of the situation, the international community’s response to the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in CAR has been far too slow. To date only 700 of the one thousand EU troops have been deployed. Amidst the deepening humanitarian crisis, only a third of the required budget for humanitarian response was funded, as of 9 June.
The UN Security Council finally adopted a Resolution creating the integrated ‘Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic’ in April, which is expected to include 10,000 military personnel and 1800 police officers, but they will not be deployed until September. Amnesty International is urging the UN to ensure full deployment of UN troops in September to ensure security for the civilian population.
The failure to provide security for the civilian population is contributing to a failure to provide justice, Amnesty said. The report calls on the country’s Transition Authorities to address impunity and restore the justice system in CAR as well as taking steps to preserve evidence. Amnesty is also calling on the Transitional Authorities to refrain from providing de facto amnesties to perpetrators of violations, and to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court.
Since December, deliberate large-scale killings of civilians, including women and children, have continued, sometimes followed by mutilation, dismembering and burning of the bodies. Acts of cannibalism have also been reported. Other crimes taking place in the country include torture, enforced disappearances, recruitment and use of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence, looting, demolition and burning of houses, villages and places of worship, such as mosques and churches, as well as the forced displacement of populations. Thousands of people have been killed as a result of the conflict and almost a million people have been forced to flee their homes.
Most attacks in CAR are conducted openly, with the perpetrators showing no fear of sanction and in some cases being well-known to their victims and the authorities.
Amnesty has also outlined recommendations to the African Union, Prosecutor of the ICC, The European Union, Chadian authorities and to other countries and donors.