towards a rebalancing of prosecutions for crimes committed in CAR

towards a rebalancing of prosecutions for crimes committed in CAR
towards a rebalancing of prosecutions for crimes committed in CAR

Bangui, Paris,

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The Hague – While the population of the Central African Republic (CAR) faces a resumption of violence, FIDH, LCDH and OCDH welcome the arrest of Mahamat Said Abdel Kain (“Mr. Said ”) By the Central African authorities and his transfer, on January 24, 2021, to the International Criminal Court (ICC). “Mr. Said” is the first ex-Séléka to be held accountable for his acts before the judges of

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The Hague, which constitutes an important first step towards the recognition of the responsibility of all the camps implied in the crimes committed in CAR in 2013 and 2014. Our organizations, which documented the crimes committed at that time, call for the intensification of efforts, both nationally and internationally, to bring justice to the hundreds of Central African victims who still have to face impunity. most responsible for international crimes and growing insecurity.

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While the trial against anti-Balaka Alfred Yetakom and Patrice-Édouard Ngaïsonna is scheduled to start at the ICC for February 9, 2021, Mr. Said, a former influential member of the Seleka groups, is the third RCA suspect transferred. to the ICC for international crimes committed in the country in the context of the 2013-2014 conflict. An arrest warrant had been issued by the ICC (under seal) on January 7, 2019 against Mr. Said, suspected of having committed in 2013, in Bangui, war crimes of torture and cruel treatment, and crimes against humanity of imprisonment or other serious deprivation of physical liberty, torture, persecution, enforced disappearances and other inhumane acts.

“With the indictment of Mr. Said, ex Seleka, the ICC shows that it is committed to trying all the parties who were guilty of massacres and serious abuses during the 2013-2014 conflict in the Central African Republic. While the militias, some already active at the time, continue to sow terror and the violence resumes in the country, we hope that this message of fight against impunity will be heard and will have a preventive effect ”, Me Albert Panda , President of OCDH

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The Office of the Prosecutor has been, on numerous occasions and like other situations such as Côte d’Ivoire, criticized for only prosecuting members of one party to the conflict in the CAR. in 2013-2014, when he had declared on several occasions to continue the investigation so that “those responsible for these crimes are accountable to justice, whatever side they belong to in the conflict”. This situation has generated many frustrations and the image of a two-tier or even partial justice. Our organizations had already called on the Court to ensure that members of both camps were prosecuted. By indicting Mr. Said, the ICC sends a clear message to all those responsible for crimes under its jurisdiction: no side will enjoy impunity.

Mr. Said would have occupied many positions of responsibility, notably within the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), the Central Office for the Repression of Banditry (OCRB), or the Popular Front for the Renaissance. of the Central African Republic (FPRC). During an interview with FIDH in 2013, Mr. Said, then commander of the OCRB, explained to investigators that he had joined the ranks of what would later become the Séléka in revenge for the death of a loved one.

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The following year, FIDH missionaries collected the testimony of a victim attesting to having been tortured by the men of Commander Said.

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The arrest and transfer of Mr. Said is a first step towards establishing the responsibilities of the ex-Seleka in the crimes that our country has known. Justice efforts must continue, so that the order givers and those most responsible for international crimes are held to account, ”said Joseph Bindoumi, president of the LCDH.

Our organizations reaffirm the need to strengthen investigations for all crimes committed on Central African territory by ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka groups, whether at the national or international level. In the context of the CAR, which now has a specialized court and whose ordinary courts have been particularly active in recent years, it is essential that a solid and positive system of complementarity be put in place to ensure prosecution. of as many people as possible responsible for crimes of a national or international nature, some of whom remain in office to this day, and to render justice to the hundreds of victims pending.

Context

Now detained in

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The Hague, Mr Said will have to appear before Single Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala during an initial appearance hearing scheduled for January 28, 2021. He may apply for his provisional release pending trial.

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The Office of the Prosecutor (and the next Prosecutor) should ensure that it collects sufficient evidence so that the charges against it are confirmed at the confirmation of charges hearing, the next step after the initial appearance. , and an essential condition for the continuation of the case to trial.

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The ICC has been seized of two situations relating to the CAR, which ratified the Rome Statute on October 3, 2001. In both cases, it was the Central African government itself that referred the situation to the Court.

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The first referral was made in December 2004 regarding war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated since July 1, 2002, throughout Central African territory and in the context of the conflict.

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The investigation into this “RCA I” situation was opened in May 2007 and led to the arrest and prosecution of Jean Pierre Bemba Gombo for the war crimes of murder, rape and pillage and the crimes against humanity of murder and rape.

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The latter, after being convicted at first instance, was acquitted in 2018 appealing all charges.

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The second referral occurred in May 2014 concerning war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed from 2012, in particular by the Séléka and anti-Balaka groups, in the context of the resurgence of violence on the territory.

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The investigation was opened in September 2014. This is the situation in which the Mahamat Said Abdel Kain case relates.

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