(Brussels) – Donor countries meeting in Brussels on November 17, 2016, should support the Central African Republic’s Special Criminal Court, 17 Central African and international human rights non-governmental organizations said in a declaration today. The donors should provide technical, financial, and political support for the court and its mandate to end impunity for crimes under international law, the groups said. On November 17, 2016, the European Union will host a conference in Brussels to discuss funding priorities for the Central African Republic.
In June 2015, the Central African Republic’s government adopted a law to create the court to pave the way to justice for victims, but the court has yet to become operational.
“The Central African Republic has been the theater of repeated cycles of horrific abuse for over a decade, without any consequences for those responsible,” the human rights organizations said. “Donors should back efforts aimed at making the Special Criminal Court operational to break this vicious cycle of impunity, and the Central African authorities should show leadership in following through.”
After nearly a decade of intermittent conflict, in late 2012, the Central African Republic spiraled into violence, with armed groups known as the Seleka and anti-Balaka committing serious abuses against civilians including murder, sexual violence, and destruction of property, which led to massive displacement. In October, tensions erupted again, with displacement camps in the center of the country attacked and scores of civilians shot, stabbed or burned to death.
In 2014, the then-transitional government referred the situation in the Central African Republic since August 1, 2012 to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, opened an investigation in September 2014. The government’s cooperation with the ICC is critical, but the ICC’s investigation, which is ongoing, will most likely only target only a handful of suspects. The Special Criminal Court, with its proposed international and national staff, is critical to address more than a decade of serious crimes and help strengthen the justice system overall.
The organizations supporting the declaration are:
Action des chrétiens contre la torture (ACAT – RCA)
Association des femmes juristes de Centrafrique (AFJC)
Association des victimes de la LRA en Centrafrique (AVLRAC)
Avocats Sans Frontières
Civis et démocratie (CIDEM)
Commission episcopale Justice et Paix
Fédération Internationale des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH)
Human Rights Watch
Ligue centrafricaine des droits de l’Homme (LCDH)
Mouvement pour la défense des droits de l’Homme et de l’action humanitaire (MDDH)
Observatoire centrafricain des droits de l’Homme (OCDH)
Observatoire pour la promotion de l’Etat de Droit – OPED
Parliamentarians for Global Action
This article was previously published by Human Rights Watch.