9 January 2013

Central African Republic: Conflict in the Central African Republic - Negotiations for a Politically Inclusive Transition Respectful of Human Rights, Including the Right to Justice By Victims

press release

While the Seleka rebels still threaten Bangui, FIDH calls upon all parties to the conflict to end human rights violations, to protect civilians, and for the negotiation and establishment of better governance for the Central African Republic, in particular for a genuine fight against impunity for the authors of the most serious crimes.

Since the start of their offensive at the beginning of December 2012 , armed forces regrouped under the rebel coalition Seleka, have captured the majority of the northern part of the country, up to Sibut which is located 160 km from Bangui. According to several sources, repeated attacks, rapes, and looting have been committed against civilians in the zone under their control. At Bangui, the advance of the rebels triggered of a wave of arrests and intimidation against political opponents and citizens of the northern part of the country, the area from which the rebel forces originate.

"All of the atrocities must cease immediately," declared Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. " All the international crimes perpetrated by either one or the other of the parties to the conflict may fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court which remains seized by the situation in Central Africa," she added.

FIDH calls for the fight against impunity of the authors of the most serious crimes perpetrated during the rebel offensive, as the absence of justice contributes to the repeated conflicts in this country over the last decade. Indeed, national and international justice has been incapable of charging and judging the authors of international crimes committed since the armed conflict of 2002, with the exception of Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is being tried before the International Criminal Court (ICC) as co-perpetrator of war crimes and crimes against humanity. As a reminder, the peace agreements of 2007 provided an amnesty - voted in 2008 - for authors of crimes committed up through the date of the agreements. In this respect, FIDH would like to highlight the fact that Martin Koumtamadji, aka Abdoulaye Miskine, is among the Seleka rebels. He was responsible for serious human rights violations committed during the attempted coup d'état in 2002 by the current chief of state, Francois Bozize, against former President Patassé, and of which the crimes have been documented by FIDH. [1]

FIDH welcomes the apparently emerging willingness of the parties to negotiate, on 8 January at Libreville, the conditions of a cease fire and a political transition that will prevent further fighting, as civilians are the main victims.

"Negotiations must integrate political forces and Central African civil society representatives to guarantee a transparent political transition, which will allow the establishment of a better governance of the country, and notably in the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes that remains one of the causes of instability in Central Africa," declared Mr. Sidiki Kaba, FIDH Honorary President.

FIDH calls upon the parties to the negotiations, and demands that any amnesty that would reinforce impunity already evident be excluded from any agreement.

In addition, FIDH demands that the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC to publicly assert its authority over the current events, and to continue its investigations in the Central African Republic in order to prosecute those at the highest level responsible for international crimes which fall under its jurisdiction.

Finally, FIDH demands the international community, in particularly the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union and the United Nations Security Council, to support the process of negotiation to guarantee a lasting peace, which respects the civil, political, social and cultural rights of the population of the Central African Republic .

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