Group: Crimes against humanity in CAR

2014-06-24 14:58
Ex-Seleka rebels drive in a truck in Bangui in CAR. (Fred Dufour, AFP)

Ex-Seleka rebels drive in a truck in Bangui in CAR. (Fred Dufour, AFP)

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Bangui - War crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed with impunity in the Central African Republic, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said in a report published on Tuesday.

The report, entitled "They must all leave or die", is the result of several FIDH missions to the deeply-impoverished nation, and established contacts with mainly-Muslim Seleka alliance which seized power last year and the Christian vigilante "anti-balaka" (anti-machete) groups.

"It is a political and ethnic struggle for power, which has gradually taken on a religious dimension," Mathias Morouba, vice-chairperson of the OCDH, a Congolese rights group, said in the report.

"But those who give the orders today will be held responsible for this ethnic cleansing and the international crimes they are committing," he insisted.

Since their December 2013 offensive on the capital, Bangui, the anti-balaka "have been systematically attacking civilians, in particular Muslims," the report said.

Meanwhile, the Seleka former rebels "continue to perpetrate serious human-rights violations and international crimes," it added.

Among the Seleka, the report singles out former president, Michel Djotodia, his head of intelligence Noureddine Adam, and the head of the Sudanese Janjaweed militia who ransacked and pillaged Darfur, General Moussa Assimeh for their roles in this "conflict of impunity".

Trial courts

As for the anti-balaka, "the investigations carried out have established the presence and the activism amongst them of numerous officers of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) and of people close to the deposed president, Franois Bozize", the FIDH declared.

"The international community must support African, French and soon UN forces in putting an end to these crimes, protect civilians and bring those responsible for these crimes to justice," said FIDH president Karim Lahidji.

Since January 2013, the conflict has resulted in nearly 3 000 dead, thousands wounded, hundreds of victims of sexual crimes and more than a million displaced persons, the report said.

In one of the atrocities listed, Ibrahim, 30, told the FIDH that last December he fled an anti-balaka attack, leaving his family behind as "I thought that they would only attack men".

Upon his return his wife had disappeared and hasn't been seen since, and his two children, aged eight and 10, were dead.

"I've lost everything," Ibrahim said.

"The need for justice in the CAR is such that we will need both national justice and the ICC [International Criminal Court] to be able to try all the perpetrators and those responsible for these crimes," said FIDH Vice President Drissa Traore.

The report added that the Central African authorities "must consider creating trial courts capable of understanding and judging such crimes, with full respect for international standards for fair trials within a reasonable time period".

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