Central African Republic: Chad troop withdrawal must not block accountability

Yesterday’s surprise announcement by the Chadian Minister for Foreign Affairs that Chad would gradually withdraw its peacekeeping troops from neighbouring Central African Republic must not result in impunity for human rights violations committed there, Amnesty International said. The announcement came in Brussels on 3 April as the EU-Africa Summit drew to a close. “This withdrawal must not give a free ride to impunity for those Chadian peacekeepers allegedly responsible for human rights violations in the Central African Republic that killed dozens of civilians as recently as last weekend,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Central Africa. “With the gap created by these troops leaving, it is all the more urgent that the international community step into the breach and assist the French and African forces on the ground in their mandate to protect civilians. The urgent deployment of the European EUFOR RCA force launched this week must only be the beginning of a robust effort to stop the very dire situation from getting any worse.”There are some 850 Chadian troops currently operating in CAR as part of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA). Since late March there has been a further worsening of the conflict as MISCA troops have for the first time become engaged in armed exchanges with anti-balaka militias in the capital Bangui and elsewhere. Amnesty International has echoed the CAR transitional government’s calls for the United Nations and African Union to launch independent, impartial investigations into the alleged role of MISCA peacekeepers in two incidents in Bangui on 27 and 29 March 2014 that killed dozens of civilians. In the latter of these, Chadian troops reportedly opened fire on a crowd of civilians. Amnesty International’s Christian Mukosa, currently in London, is available for interviews.