Amnesty International called on delegates to the Central African Republic (CAR) National Reconciliation talks due to take place in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo on 21-23 July, to ensure that their discussions do not lead to impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations. Those suspected of involvement in crimes under international law must not be allowed to use this forum to perpetuate the culture of impunity in the country.
It is understood that a number of people, including anti-balaka and Séléka leaders, have been invited to take part in the CAR National Reconciliation talks. Amnesty International has received credible evidence against a number of these leaders that they have been involved in crimes under international law.
“The Brazzaville peace talks must ensure that accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes under international law are at the heart of any discussion to bring peace in CAR. Individuals suspected of these crimes must not be allowed to use these peace talked to secure positions in the government that they may use to enjoy impunity,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director, Research and Advocacy.
In its report, Central African Republic: Time for Accountability, published 10 July, Amnesty International named members and allies of the anti-balaka and Séléka armed groups suspected of involvement in serious human rights abuses. They include ex-Presidents François Bozizé and Michel Djotodia, anti-balaka coordinators, including Levy Yakété and Séléka commanders, including Noureddine Adam. The report calls for the investigation and prosecution if there is sufficient evidence to bring cases against these individuals.
On 11 July 2014, a Séléka congress held in Birao, in northern CAR, designated former President Michel Djotodia and former commander and Minister Nourredine Adam as the armed group’s President and Vice-president, respectively. These two individuals are named in the Amnesty International report and are under UN and US sanctions for their involvement in the ongoing crisis and in human rights violations and abuses committed in CAR.
Amnesty International is calling on the CAR transitional authorities , members of the international community including the ECCAS, CAR, the UN and the African Union to ensure that accountability for crimes under international law and other serious violations and abuses of human right in CAR is at the heart of any peace talks. Amnesty International believes that there can be no long lasting peace in CAR if impunity continues.
The Brazzaville conference follows a decision adopted at the 5th Session of the International Contact Group on CAR, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 7 July 2014. It should take place from 21 to 23 July and both the Séléka and the anti-balaka groups are due to attend.
On 17 July Interim President Samba -Panza opened a forum in Bangui in preparation for the Brazzaville talks. Amnesty International learnt from the discussions in Bangui that that around 150 participants should attend the Brazzaville talks. They will include representatives of civil society organizations, political parties, armed groups – including the Séléka, Anti-balaka, RJ APRD, FDPC and UFR- the diasporas as well as “communities at risk”, refugees and displaced.
The capital Bangui is relatively calm, but the situation remains tense in many parts of the country. Violence has escalated in the central and eastern and northern part of the country. On 7 July 26 people were killed and 35 seriously wounded during the attack at the St Joseph church and IDP site in Bambari. More than 10,000 who were staying there were forced to flee. A few days before this attck, on 4 July, a mosque was attacked in Paoua in the northern part of the country. According to OCHA 184 violent incidents were recorded between May and June 2014 with 14% more cases in June comparing to May.