CAR: Rejection of any claim to immunity is a positive step towards justice

The rejection of any claim to immunity and the strong call to bring to trial those suspected of criminal responsibility for crimes under international law and human rights violations are a positive step towards justice in Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today, following the conclusions of a national reconciliation forum.

For years, the usual solution to crises in the Central African Republic has been one of compromise and accommodation towards those responsible for the conflicts and violations. This week the delegates of the forum clearly indicated that the party was over and that justice cannot wait

Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

“Justice is central to any serious and lasting reconciliation process in CAR. Amnesty International hopes that the actions of the transitional authorities and the international community will now match the clearly expressed demands of the population. As well as bringing those suspected of war crimes to justice, it means agreeing on a national Constitution that makes everyone accountable before the law, no matter their official role or position of power.”
On Monday, 600 delegates at the forum including representatives of most armed groups involved in the conflict agreed on the importance of the fight against impunity, the swift funding and implementation of a Special Criminal Court, the rejection of any claim to immunity, the rehabilitation of the judicial system and the exclusion of amnesties for those allegedly responsible for crimes under international law.
The Forum also rejected calls from some armed groups who sought amnesties on the ground that, according to them, the whole population of CAR was guilty of collective crimes, and thus no one should be held to account. Such an approach would have been a violation of the Statute of Rome of the International Criminal Court, which clearly establishes individual responsibility for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as the responsibility of commanders and other superiors, including within non-state armed groups.
In July 2014, Amnesty International published a report that identified and named at least twenty individuals from various groups who the organization believes may have played an important role in organizing, funding and allegedly committing crimes under international law. These people, and many others who have since been identified by Amnesty International, the national authorities, the UN and other Human Rights organizations, need to be brought to justice in fair trials.
With insecurity continuing across the country, including protests by some armed groups after the forum, Amnesty International also called for the strengthening of efforts to protect civilians from violence and ensure that the transitional Government is able to respond to the demands of the Forum and ensure justice, truth and reparations to victims.