República Centroafricana

Issa Sallet Adoum and Mahamat Tahir, lying on the ground, weakened by a hunger strike during the judgement handed down against them in October 2022. In July 2023, the appeal chamber of the Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic corrected and clarified their guilt and sentences. © Barbara Debout / AFP

On July 20, 2023, the Appeals Chamber of the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in the Central African Republic handed down its first judgment on the merits. The ruling went largely unnoticed. However, it offers a real double added value: controlling the work of the trial chamber, and guiding the judges in their future task.

The Appeals Chamber was called to rule on the SCC trial court judgment handed down on October 31, 2022. Issa Sallet Adoum, Yaouba Ousman and Mahamat Tahir had been found guilty of crimes against humanity for murder and other inhumane acts, and war crimes for murder and outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian and Rwandan security forces take measures around the site during election meeting in Bangui, Central African Republic on December 25, 2020. Nacer Talel / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP

Russia has rapidly expanded its influence in the Central African Republic (CAR) in the last few years, using military support to become President Faustin-Archange Touadéra’s closest ally. Prone to coups, rebellions and communal strife, CAR has been engulfed in conflict for over twenty years. While the government wields authority in the capital Bangui, it is largely absent from the provinces, where an array of rebels and other armed groups exercise their own form of predatory rule. Disappointed by the inability of UN peacekeepers to extend the state’s writ, Touadéra turned to Russia in 2017, securing weapons and military instructors to bolster CAR’s shambolic army after the UN Security Council approved an exemption to the arms embargo on the country.…  Seguir leyendo »

"The fight against impunity will be the backbone of my second term," said Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra at his inauguration ceremony (photo) on 30 March in Bangui. © Camille Laffont / AFP

On March 30, Faustin-Archange Touadera was, again, sworn in as president of the Central African Republic (CAR), having won a second term after a difficult election fraught by insecurity and rising tensions fueled by rebel groups. In his inaugural speech, President Touadera promised to make ending impunity the “backbone” of his mandate. A few days before, he had also announced the organization, in the near future, of a “national dialogue”.

Terms such as “justice,” the “fight against impunity,” and “national dialogue,” however, are so frequently used in CAR that they risk turning off Central Africans who are still waiting for the concrete, transformative measures that the political transition had promised.…  Seguir leyendo »

Filming of an outreach film on the Special Criminal Court in June 2019 at the Association of Female Jurists (Bangui). Here, the women victims receive advice on the best ways to protect their rights.

Widespread impunity prevailing in the Central African Republic applies in particular to sexual and gender-based crimes, which are increasingly documented and recorded. As criminal prosecution can only be limited in the absence of an effective judicial structure, we look here at possible solutions. These include the so-called "holistic" approach promoted by the Institut francophone pour la justice et la démocratie, along with the team of Nobel Peace Prize winner doctor Denis Mukwege of Congo and the ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission project.

In the Central African Republic (CAR), as in all states marked by recent conflict, dealing with sexual violence is one of the major issues that transitional justice must address.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Special Criminal Court (SCC) Statute gives the court jurisdiction over gross human rights and humanitarian law violations according to Central African Republic’s (CAR) domestic criminal code and its international obligations, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide which may have been committed in CAR since 1 January 2003.

The prospect of a trial and conviction, if an accused is found guilty, inevitably raises the question of reparations for the victims who will have civil party status. In fact, the SCC can award individual and/or collective reparations, including financial compensation, psychological support and agrarian or industrial funds. No trust fund mechanism is envisaged in the framework of the SCC to oversee the implementation of reparations awards.…  Seguir leyendo »

CAR’s Special Criminal Court (supplied by author)

The conundrum facing justice in the Central African Republic (CAR) was well summed up by Jean Pierre Waboe, Vice-president of the country’s Constitutional Court, whom I interviewed:

In a situation whereby the state does not exist, injustice becomes the norm. Anybody can set about doing anything.

The breakdown of state control since the resurgence of conflict in 2013 has had drastic consequences for the possibility of any forms of governance – political, economic or legal in CAR.

Under these circumstances, the need for “justice” has become more crucial. For Waboe, however, the problem of justice in the country is that it’s seen as too formal, too distant, too complex, and too slow to respond to what’s needed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nina Beina on the land she bought for her children, with the help of a loan from a microsavings group.Credit Tyler Pager

Nina Beina, a widowed mother of 11, couldn’t wait to give me a tour of the land she had just bought. She beamed as she showed me the site where her children will build their homes.

Ms. Beina isn’t a real estate mogul, and like most people here she has no access to banks or formal loans. But she was able to buy the property through a program arising from one of the hot ideas in the global fight against poverty — microsavings. With the help of Catholic Relief Services, an international humanitarian organization, Ms. Beina and her neighbors recently started their own savings group.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dr. Emilia Bylicka checking on a child in a clinic near Bayanga in the Central African Republic. Credit Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Each morning, Marie Noella Kango walks over to the local clinic here and takes her spot behind the main desk by 8 a.m. Often, mothers and their children are already waiting in a line outside. One by one, the mothers meet with Ms. Kango and describe their children’s symptoms: fever, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pains. These are all symptoms Ms. Kango can easily diagnose as malaria or parasites, the two most common ailments in this village. Then she prescribes a treatment plan.

Ms. Kango, a BaAka Pygmy woman who grew up in the village, has no formal medical training, but under the guidance of Emilia Bylicka, a Polish doctor who oversees the small clinic, she has emerged as a critical part of the operation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Women walk past a U.N. armored personnel carrier at the entrance to a sprawling camp for thousands of families displaced by civil war in Kaga Bandoro, Central African Republic, on Jan. 22. (Jack Losh)

Recently, The Washington Post’s Jack Losh reported on the precarious governance of Central African Republic, where, “[i]n the absence of an effective government, more than a dozen armed groups and a multitude of local militias have usurped control of about 80 percent of the impoverished former French colony.”

Given this crisis, replete with rising social tensions and political violence, in November 2017 the United Nations Security Council extended the mandate of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Central African Republic (MINUSCA), widely known as peacekeepers or “blue helmets.” Over the next year, the Security Council expects MINUSCA to protect civilians, facilitate peace and provide “support for the rule of law.”…  Seguir leyendo »

On Nov. 15, the United Nations Security Council will meet to decide on the fate of the U.N. mission in Central African Republic, known by its acronym MINUSCA. In stark contrast to the debate over the U.N. mission in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, which the U.S. pushed to reduce last April after citing its ineffectiveness and cost, few in New York expect cuts to the Central African Republic (CAR) mission. To the contrary, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited CAR at the end of October and called for increasing the mission’s authorized troop ceiling, currently just over 12,000, by an additional 900 troops.…  Seguir leyendo »

La Centrafrique, serial killer des plans de paix ? Le constat est vite fait : de l’accord de Syrthes de 2007 conduite par feu « le Médiateur et Guide de la Grande Révolution libyenne » Mouamar Khadafi aux deux accords conclus ces derniers mois, l’un en juin à Rome sous l’impulsion de la diplomatie du Vatican (« L’Entente de Sant’Egidio), l’autre en juillet à Libreville conduite par l’Union africaine (« La feuille de route pour la paix et la réconciliation en République centrafricaine »), les sujets abordés dans ces accords de paix sur la RCA sont pratiquement invariables, tout comme les solutions, l’ensemble assorti de vaines promesses : arrêt immédiat des hostilités, partage du pouvoir, cantonnement et désarmement, démobilisation, réintégration et réhabilitation (DDRR) des combattants, retour des réfugiés et des déplacés, protection de civils, respect du droit international humanitaire et des droits de l’homme et réconciliation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Military members from the Gabonese Armed Forces stand in formation in Libreville, on June 13 2016. US Army-Africa-Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball/Wikimedia, CC BY-ND

Amid the mayhem of the Central African Republic, new armed groups are emerging, according to reports by Human Rights Watch.

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been riven with political conflict between the Seleka rebel coalition and the government forces since 2012. The conflict is now drawing in religious and extremist groups, terrorising civilians.

To stabilise the politically and socially devastated country Gabon deployed 450 soldiers to the capital, Bangui, in 2016, within the framework of the United Nations mission in the Central African Republic, known as MINUSCA. Gabon soldiers have been active in CAR since 2003.

Gabon is small in terms of its territory, population and army (around 6,700 soldiers, according to the author’s own statistics based on information from Gabon’s defence ministry), so it relies on defence diplomacy to establish itself in the regional game of influence.…  Seguir leyendo »

A boat with 158 migrants is spotted by the Italian coast guard in Lampedusa, Italy, on 8 July 2011. MAGNUM/Patrick Zachmann

When world leaders meet in New York next week for summit meetings hosted by the UN and the U.S. to tackle the global refugee crisis, they must redouble their efforts to resolve those conflicts driving the global exodus and to prevent new conflicts before the emergency is compounded. Additionally, leaders should commit to resettle at least 10 per cent of the world’s refugees annually, share responsibilities more equitably, increase support for front-line states facing the greatest challenges, and respect fully the rights of refugees.

The number of refugees and internally displaced now stands at more than 65 million, the largest figure ever recorded.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dichosas democracias africanas

Como anunciara sin ambages, Teodoro Obiang se sucedió a sí mismo en la presidencia de Guinea Ecuatorial, al obtener casi tantos votos como votantes en los recientes comicios de abril. Torturas, detenciones, amenazas y tantas irregularidades palmarias que jalonaron el proceso no empalidecen la «victoria apoteósica» del «líder carismático», sancionada por observadores reverentes, encabezados por el designado por la Unión Africana (UA), Thomas Yayi Boni, expresidente del vecino Benín, a quien Barack Obama negó el saludo en la reciente cumbre mundial sobre el clima en París. Nada impide cumplir sus designios al mandatario más longevo del continente; con 73 años, seguirá sirviéndose de su patria hasta 2023, y entonces pergeñará nuevos pretextos para continuar en un sillón ocupado en 1979, del que ni la muerte le separará.…  Seguir leyendo »

The United States, France, and the United Nations are falling into an all too familiar trap in the Central African Republic (CAR) of financing transition elections before armed militias have been disarmed and their communal hold broken. Exclusionary and botched elections could trigger another wave of violence and deepen the crisis.

There is no way for the current time schedule of voting by end of the year to be anything more than a wasted and potentially violence triggering event. Unless conditions on the ground change dramatically, militias disarmed, functional local administration in place, relations between Christian and Muslim communities improved, guarantees for refugees and internally displaced to vote and adequate electoral security, the elections should be postponed.…  Seguir leyendo »

En Centrafrique, la course aux élections qui prévoit des scrutins présidentiel et législatif avant la fin de l’année est aussi irréaliste que dangereuse. Alors que le plan initial de la transition a complètement déraillé, l’obstination des internationaux, et plus particulièrement de la France, à faire voter les Centrafricains à l’ombre des groupes armés, avec une administration territoriale squelettique et des haines inter-communautaires tenaces ressemble plus à une fuite en avant qu’à un processus de transition accompli. Depuis septembre, plusieurs voix s’élèvent pour dire tout haut ce que tout le monde à Bangui pense tout bas depuis des mois : le calendrier électoral est « surréaliste ».…  Seguir leyendo »

«Ni punir, ni pardonner.» Par son efficace clarté, la formule de l’essayiste d’origine allemande Hannah Arendt frappe et souligne l’impasse dans laquelle nombre de sociétés se trouvent: que faire des auteurs de crimes si terribles que le châtiment ne serait jamais proportionnel au mal qu’ils ont commis? Que faire face à ce qui paraît de l’ordre de l’impardonnable?

Difficile de ne pas souscrire à l’affirmation d’Hannah Arendt, mais c’est pour se trouver aussitôt confronté à un choix binaire – punir ou pardonner – aussi bien moralement que politiquement insatisfaisant, choix auquel les sociétés en transition ne peuvent pas se soustraire. Que l’on soit un adepte de Machiavel et de la realpolitik ou, au contraire, un fervent défenseur des droits de l’homme, la brutalité des faits ne peut être évacuée: des crimes de masse ont été commis souvent par des milliers, voire des dizaines de milliers de personnes, et le châtiment pénal ne concernera qu’une infime minorité de leurs auteurs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Blame War, Not Safaris

Safari hunting strikes many people as distasteful in the best of times, and during a conflict, as morally outrageous. The Central African Republic is at war again, and two loose-knit coalitions — one mostly Muslim, the other mostly Christian — are massacring each other. Yet the trophy hunting goes on. A few intrepid foreigners are traveling to the eastern parts of the republic to kill Lord Derby Eland, the largest antelope in Africa, and its shy forest cousin, the bongo.

Earlier this month, Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, tweeted at a local safari operator: “No, it is not OK for ignorant US hunters 2 come hunt 4 sport in #CARcrisis at time its people r hunted w hate.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Le Conseil de sécurité a approuvé ma proposition de déployer une mission de maintien de la paix en République centrafricaine, ouvrant la voie à l’envoi de 10 000 militaires et de quelque 2000 policiers pour rétablir un semblant d’ordre dans une nation en ruine.

Je viens de rentrer d’une visite en Centrafrique, où j’ai pu me rendre compte par moi-même de ce qui s’y passe. Dire que la situation est désespérée est un euphémisme. Dans ce pays de la taille du Texas, plus de la moitié de la population a besoin d’aide pour survivre. Un Centrafricain sur quatre a été arraché à son foyer.…  Seguir leyendo »

Shortly after a mob looted his Bangui neighborhood and killed a Muslim man in broad daylight in December, Khaled Dea Oumar joined other young Muslims in the street. Exasperated at what he saw as a lack of protection from French and African Union forces supposed to be keeping the peace in the Central African Republic capital, he ran up to a group of African Union soldiers who had arrived on the scene too late. “We tell you to come, and you don’t come,” he shouted. “What are you doing?”

As the United Nations Security Council finally authorized an official peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic last Thursday, Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »