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Central African Republic – update May 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 4, May 2022
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The long-awaited inaugural trial of the Special Criminal Court, tasked with trying individuals suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity since 2003, was supposed to start on 19 April,[1] but it was postponed twice and is now set to start on 16 May.[2]

In April, citizens took to the streets to oppose a proposal for constitutional reform made in the contested reconciliation talks in March, due to opposition and civil society fears that this could allow President Faustin Archange Touadera to run for a third term. Supporters of the ruling party submitted a petition in favour of the revision.[3]

Violent events continue to occur, recorded events of violence against civilians increased over 270% from March 2022 and over 15% since the start of the year. Despite this, violence has declined compared to 20212021.[4] Attacks from explosive devices continue to raise concern. Civilians found anti-personnel mines for the first time in the country on 4 April. These weapons are prohibited under the Mine Ban Convention, which entered into force in the country in 2003.[5] Two attacks on humanitarian aid workers by armed individuals took place on 7 and 9 April 2022. Such attacks have increased in the past months, between 1 January and 15 April 2022, about 43 incidents affecting humanitarian organisations there were recorded, with 11 aid workers injured.[6]

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-defence groups that formed the “anti-Balaka” movement to resist the Séléka and many began targeting Muslim communities.[7]

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.[8]

Currently 30% of Central Africans are displaced while half the population is food insecure[9]. UNOCHA estimates 3.1 million people will need humanitarian assistance by the end of 2022, 63% of the total population.[10]

International response:

The US Department of State released their 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and indicated human rights abuses amounted to violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law. It also contended that members of the security forces, alongside the Russian Wagner Group, engaged in active combat and carried out human rights abuses at a rate comparable to armed groups.[11]

The Humanitarian Coordinator in the Central African Republic, Ms. Denise Brown, condemned the recent attacks on humanitarian organisations.[12]

 

 

[1] DW, “Central African Republic: Long-awaited war crimes trial postponed,” 19 April 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/central-african-republic-long-awaited-war-crimes-trial-postponed/a-61516039

[2] Africa News, “CAR: ‘Historic’ trial postponed immediately after kick-off,”  26 April 2022,https://www.africanews.com/2022/04/26/car-historic-trial-postponed-immediately-after-kick-off//

[3] Barrons, “Pro-govt Protesters Call For Constitutional Change In C. Africa,” 29 April 2022, https://www.barrons.com/news/pro-govt-protesters-call-for-constitutional-change-in-c-africa-01651253707

[4] ACLED Data

[5] OCHA, Central African Republic The ever-growing threat of explosive devices, updated 6 April 2022, https://reports.unocha.org/en/country/car/card/30CQKXi7pF/

[6] UN News, “UN condemns recent attacks on humanitarians in Central African Republic,” 20 April 2022, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/04/1116532

[7] 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

[8] 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

[9] 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

[10] UNOCHA, “Situation Report Central African Republic,” 7 April 2022, https://reports.unocha.org/en/country/car/#cf-5JBAIwceyXkeLoEvJqi08v

[11] US Department of State, 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Central African Republic, 12 April 2022, https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/central-african-republic/

[12] OCHA, “The Humanitarian Coordinator strongly condemns two attacks on humanitarian organizations in the Central African Republic,” 19 April 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/central-african-republic/humanitarian-coordinator-strongly-condemns-two-attacks-humanitarian

 

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