The Central African Republic has had numerous mutinies, rebellions, and coups over the last 20 years. Almost none of those responsible for widespread human rights abuses have been held accountable. The cycles of impunity have fueled ongoing abuses and emboldened those who seek to take power by force, Human Rights Watch said.
The new government will inherit an overburdened and barely functioning judicial system and will need international support to ensure that those who committed crimes during the violence are held accountable.
Since September 2014, the office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been conducting a second investigation in the Central African Republic focusing on alleged crimes in the country since August 2012. In June 2015, the Central African Republic’s transitional president promulgated a law to establish a Special Criminal Court, consisting of national and international staff, to investigate and prosecute the gravest crimes committed in the country since 2003, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The ICC has not yet issued arrest warrants or started trials, and the Special Criminal Court exists only on paper. Full cooperation from the government with the ICC will be key for it to carry out its work. The government should also take the lead on the quick establishment of the Special Criminal Court. The new president should make it clear that his government will support the work of the Special Criminal Court and ask donors to mobilize the funds and technical support that will ensure the court’s effective operation, Human Rights Watch said.
“The fight against impunity has been a clear demand from the population and should be firmly on the agenda of the new government,” Mudge said. “The ICC and the new Special Criminal Court are the country’s best chance to break longstanding cycles of violence, deter future crimes, and ensure accountability for the victims.”