23 June 2014

Central African Republic: CAR Judges Resume Work After Seven-Month Strike

Judges in the Central African Republic, CAR, resumed work on Monday, June 16, 2014, after a protest strike that began last November over growing insecurity under the government of then Transitional President Michel Djotodia.

The industrial action was prompted by the killing of Judge Modeste Martineau Bria and his orderly on November 18, 2013 in his Ben-Zvi neighbourhood residence in the capital, Bangui by two individuals on a motor bike who detonated a grenade. The assailants then collected two rifles and other military equipment before fleeing. However, press reports say the impact of the resumption of the work of the judges - in the face of persistent insecurity - is still to be felt as it is being hampered by various factors.

Some of the accused lack counsel while police detectives find it difficult investigating cases because of lack of means. Moreover, most security force members, just like army troops, lack weapons as a result of a UN embargo to forestall an escalation in the crisis. "At the level of Bangui, only misdemeanors are being handled. The security situation does not yet permit our detectives to go into certain neighbourhoods in the city," acknowledged Ghislain Gresenguet, a prosecutor in the capital.

For now, the judiciary is unable to handle cases of murder and public lynching. The government of Transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza last week appealed to the International Criminal Court, ICC in The Hague, The Netherlands, to investigate alleged cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country.

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