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Central African Republic – update April 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor No. 3
April 2022. Read full newsletter here

Reconciliation talks took place during 21-27 March in what experts considered an attempt to pacify the international community. 34 No rebel groups were invited, only representatives of the ruling party and civil society figures attended. This, and the fact that some opposition demands were not addressed led to former president Bozizé’s party and other opposition political groups to boycott the talks.35 The talks ended up producing 600 recommendations, including one for an end to the weapons embargo, but it is unclear when they will be implemented.36

Despite the unilateral ceasefire declared by the president in October 2021, conflict continues, characterised by severe violations of human rights by armed groups as well as government security forces, supported by private contractors.37 There has been a noticeable decline in violence over the last 12 months.38

Yao Agbetse, te Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the country, indicated there have been numerous reports indicating abuses committed by Russian bilateral forces against the civilian population, including acts of torture, rape and sexual violence and cruel, humiliating, inhuman and degrading treatment.39 The Russian Wagner group has started withdrawing some of their troops to assist in the war in Ukraine. 40

Land mines and unexploded ordnance continue to impose great risk for civilians, between January and March 2022, seven people were killed and 29 injured in 19 accidents involving explosive devices.41

Sexual violence has increased alarmingly in the last few years, especially for IDPs. In 2021, there was a 235% increase compared to 2020 and 211% compared to 2019.42

Context:

CAR has a long history of violence and rebellion. After coming to power in a coup, Bozizé’s 2003- 2013 rule was characterized by corruption and violent repression of rebellions in the majority Muslim communities in the north. A predominantly Muslim rebel alliance, Séléka, began ousted Bozizé in 2013. Christian and animist self-defense groups that formed the “anti-Balaka” movement to resist the Séléka and many began targeting Muslim communities. 43

After several failed attempts to end the civil war, the Khartoum Agreement was signed in 2019, including 14 armed groups. The agreement had limited success, and fighting started up again in December 2020 when Faustin-Archange Touadéra won a second term as president and the main rebel factions formed an alliance opposed to the election called the Coalition of Patriots for Change, which was coordinated by former President Bozizé.44

Currently 30% of Central Africans are displaced while half the population is food insecure.45UNOCHA estimates 3.1 million people will need humanitarian assistance by the end of 2022, 63% of the total population.46

International response:

 The International Criminal Court has a number of cases ongoing related to the 2013-2014 Séléka- anti Balaka violence. Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka, has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, related to attacks on Muslim civilians in 2013 and 2014 as a form of collective punishment of groups they viewed as associated with the Séléka. He was handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 14 March 2022.47 He joins Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, alleged anti-Balaka leaders, charged with crimes against humanity arrested in 2018 and being tried jointly since February 2021.48

The ICC also has an ongoing case against Mahamat Said, a former commander of the Séléka rebel coalition, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is currently in custody and his trial is expected to begin in September 2022.49

In addition, the UN has a multi-dimensional peacekeeping operation, MINUSCA, deployed in the country since 2014 to promote and protect human right, support justice and the rule of law and disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation processes.50

The UN Human Rights Council held a high-level interactive dialogue on the situation in CAR in March 2022. Participants expressed concern regarding the increase in human rights violations. Lizbeth Cullity, Deputy Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic expressed concern about “the long-standing culture of impunity and the increase and gravity of human rights violations throughout the Central African Republic.”51

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34 VOA, “Central African Republic Peace Talks End Without Concrete Progress,” 27 March 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/central-african-republic-peace-talks-end-without-concrete- progress/6503818.html
35 Africa News, “Central African Republic: President Touadéra opens peace talks despite opposition boycott,” 22 March 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/03/22/central-african-republic-president- touadera-opens-peace-talks-despite-opposition-boycott//
36 Al Jazeera, “CAR peace talks end without concrete progress,” 28 March 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/28/c-africa-peace-talks-end-without-concrete-progress
37 UNOHCHR, “High Commissioner Expresses Concern over Increasing Incidents Involving Serious Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the Central African Republic, and Mission Finds Evidence of Human Rights Violations and Abuses Committed in Libya since 2016,” 30 March 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/03/human-rights-council-high-commissioner-expresses-concern-over-increasing
38 ACLED Data
39 UNOHCHR, “High Commissioner Expresses Concern over Increasing Incidents Involving Serious Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the Central African Republic, and Mission Finds Evidence of Human Rights Violations and Abuses Committed in Libya since 2016,” 30 March 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/03/human-rights-council-high-commissioner-expresses- concern-over-increasing
40 Le Monde, “Russia’s involvement in the Central African Republic disrupted by the war in Ukraine,” 31 March 2022, https://www.lemonde.fr/en/international/article/2022/03/31/russia-s-involvement-in-the-central-african-republic-disrupted-by-the-war-in-ukraine_5979446_4.html
41 UNOCHA, “Situation Report Central African Republic,” 7 April 2022, https://reports.unocha.org/en/country/car/#cf-5JBAIwceyXkeLoEvJqi08v
42 UNOCHA, “Gender-based violence: a scourge with devastating consequences,” 7 April 2022, https://reports.unocha.org/en/country/car/#cf-5JBAIwceyXkeLoEvJqi08v
43 United States Institute for Peace, “As Security Returns, Central Africans Await the State,” 29 March 2022, https://www.usip.org/blog/2022/03/security-returns-central-africans-await-state
44 Al Jazeera, “CAR ex-President François Bozizé takes charge of rebel alliance,” 21 March 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/21/central-africa-ex-president-bozize-takes-charge-of-rebel- alliance
45 UNOHCHR, “High Commissioner Expresses Concern over Increasing Incidents Involving Serious Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the Central African Republic, and Mission Finds Evidence of Human Rights Violations and Abuses Committed in Libya since 2016,” 30 March 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/03/human-rights-council-high-commissioner-expresses- concern-over-increasing
46 UNOCHA, “Situation Report Central African Republic,” 7 April 2022, https://reports.unocha.org/en/country/car/#cf-5JBAIwceyXkeLoEvJqi08v
47 “Central African Republic Militia Leader Surrendered to ICC,” DW, 14 March 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202203150008.html
48 International Criminal Court Yekatom and Ngaïssona Case https://www.icc- cpi.int/cases?f%5B0%5D=situation_name_colloquial_cases%3A676
49 International Criminal Court Said case https://www.icc-cpi.int/carII/said 50 United National Peacekeeping,”MINUSCA Fact Sheet,” https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/mission/minusca
51 UNOHCHR, “High Commissioner Expresses Concern over Increasing Incidents Involving Serious Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the Central African Republic, and Mission Finds Evidence of Human Rights Violations and Abuses Committed in Libya since 2016,” 30 March 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/03/human-rights-council-high-commissioner-expresses- concern-over-increasing

 

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