Update June 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 5, June 2022
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Violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has decreased when compared to the previous year. There has been a 38% decrease in violent incidents and fatalities during the last four weeks when compared to the monthly average of the previous year. During May there was a sharp decrease in violent attacks against civilians but an increase in battles when compared to April 2022.[1]

Despite the decrease, violence continues and civilians continue to suffer the consequences. At least 10 civilians were killed by Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC) rebels in the village of Bokolobo, northeast of the capital, the UN reported. A few days earlier, at least 30 civilians of the Muslim faith, including 27 Fulani, were killed by the Central African army alongside Russian mercenaries and local militia, according to Ali Darassa, military leader of the UPC and chief of staff of the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC).[2] On 24 May, seven people were killed in Nana-Bakassa. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.[3]

Information on the presence of the Russian Wagner group in the country continues to surface. According to an investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch, Russian forces, including the Wagner group, have been conducting summary executions, tortures, and other forms of violence against civilians in the country since 2019. Among the incidents investigated were the Bossangoa massacre that claimed the lives of 13 people in June 2021 and cases of detention and torture in Bambari in 2019.[4] More recently, three Russian mercenaries have been accused of attacking mothers recovering from childbirth at the hospital in the Henri Izamo military camp in the capital, Bangui, last month.[5] Two others were killed by suspected CPC fighters in the northern Ouham-Pende region at the end of May.[6]

Allies of President Faustin-Archange Touadera proposed changes to the constitution that would remove the two term limit, allowing him to be reelected, this led to protests from the opposition. Presidential elections in the country are to be held in 2025.[7]

The first trial at the CAR Special Criminal Court (SCC) started in mid-May. The defendants, Sallet Adoum also known as Bozize, Yaouba Ousman, and Mahamat Tahir, are former members of the 3R militia accused of the massacre of 46 villagers in Lemouna and Koundjili in the northwest of the country in May 2019.[8] The International Criminal Court prosecutor indicated his office will actively support the work of the SCC in line with the principle of complementarity.[9] Lawmakers voted to abolish the death penalty in late May 2022, although the last official execution took place in 1981 the practice had remained legally applicable. The legislation must still be issued by president Touadera.[10]

Humanitarian workers are being targeted. Between January and April 2022, 52 incidents affecting humanitarian workers were recorded, affecting mostly Ouham, Bangui and Ouaka.[11] More than 60% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance and prices of basic commodities, especially food, medicine and fuel, have increased. The price of wheat went up 36% in the last two weeks and is expected to increase at least 30% more by August.[12] Health agencies only have 38% of the needed aid to respond to the growing crisis.[13] This aggravates the ongoing political tensions and insecurity, increasing the risk for mass atrocities.


The 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.[14]

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.[15]

Currently 30% of Central Africans are displaced while half the population is food insecure.[16] UNOCHA estimates 3.1 million people will need humanitarian assistance by the end of 2022, 63% of the total population.[17]

International response:

Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, briefed the Security Council’s 2127 Sanctions Committee on 6 May 2022. Since July 2019, the situation of children has deteriorated due to the increasing levels of violence, the deterioration of basic services and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. She recommended that protection of children remain central to peace efforts, that dialogue with armed groups must continue and that a National Plan for the prevention of violence against children in armed conflict must be put in place.[18]

The new Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the Central African Republic, Valentine Rugwabiza, called for a readjustment of the UN peacekeeping force, to “adopt a proactive and preventive posture of exactions on civilian populations based on reliable information,” in order to protect civilians. She also expressed concern over the ongoing humanitarian situation and the lack of funding for humanitarian response.[19]

On 9 May, US President Biden issued a proclamation extending sanctions against certain individuals in the CAR for another year.[20]

[1] ACLED Data.

[2] VOA, “Rebels Kill 10 Civilians in Central African Republic, UN Says,” 14 May 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/rebels-kill-10-civilians-in-central-african-republic-un-says-/6574009.html

[3] Hum Angle, “Armed Group Kills 7 People In Nana-Bakassa, Central African Republic,” 27 May 2022, https://humanglemedia.com/armed-group-kills-7-people-in-nana-bakassa-central-african-republic/

[4] Human Rights Watch, “Central African Republic: Abuses by Russia-Linked Forces,” 3 May 2022, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/05/03/central-african-republic-abuses-russia-linked-forces

[5] The Daily Beast, “Putin’s Private Army Accused of Raping New Moms on Maternity Ward,” 7 May 2022, https://www.thedailybeast.com/wagner-group-mercenaries-accused-of-raping-new-moms-on-maternity-ward-in-central-african-republic

[6] Andalou Agency, “2 Wagner paramilitaries killed in Central African Republic,” 30 May 2022, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/2-wagner-paramilitaries-killed-in-central-african-republic/2601125

[7] Reuters, “Allies of Central African Republic president propose removing term limits,” 27 May 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/allies-cafrican-republic-president-propose-removing-term-limits-2022-05-27/

[8] International Federation for Human Rights, “Q&A: Opening of the first trial before the Special Criminal Court in CAR,” 17 May 2022, https://www.fidh.org/en/region/Africa/central-african-republic/q-a-opening-of-first-trial-before-special-criminal-court

[9] International Criminal Court, Statement, ICC Prosecutor underlines commitment to support the Special Criminal Court of the Central African Republic following address by Deputy Prosecutor, Mr Mame Mandiaye Niang at opening of first trial in Bangui, 11 May 2022, https://www.icc-cpi.int/news/icc-prosecutor-underlines-commitment-support-special-criminal-court-central-african-republic

[10] Africa News, “CAR: Bangui residents react to MPs voting to end death penalty,” 30 May 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/05/30/car-bangui-residents-react-to-mps-voting-to-end-death-penalty/

[11] OCHA, Central African Republic: Overview of incidents affecting humanitarian workers (April 2022), 5 May 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/central-african-republic/central-african-republic-overview-incidents-affecting-31

[12] OCHA, Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Ukraine, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, 5 May 2022, https://www.unocha.org/story/daily-noon-briefing-highlights-ukraine-ethiopia-central-african-republic

[13] OCHA, Central African Republic, Situation Report Last updated: 27 May 2022, https://reports.unocha.org/en/country/car/

[14] 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

[15] 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

[16] 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

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

[18] UNSC, SC/14898, Press release, Security Council 2127 Committee Meets Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, 20 May 2022, https://www.un.org/press/en/2022/sc14898.doc.htm

[19] Africa News, “CAR: New UN Rep calls for readjustment of MINUSCA to protect civilians,” 19 May 2022,https://www.africanews.com/2022/05/19/car-new-un-rep-calls-for-readjustment-of-minusca-to-protect-civilians//

[20] White House, Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Central African Republic, 9 May 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2022/05/09/notice-on-the-continuation-of-the-national-emergency-with-respect-to-the-central-african-republic-2/