ICC opens new Central African Republic inquiry

The head of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, on Sept. 24 announced the office will open a second investigation (PDF) into the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) with respect to crimes allegedly committed since 2012. Alleged crimes against humanity include murder, torture, rape, attacking personnel or objects involved in a humanitarian assistance missions, pillage, and the use of child soldiers under the age of 15. The ICC report states there is reasonable belief that both sides of the conflict may be culpable for crimes against humanity. Bensouda opened a preliminary examination in February 2014 due to escalating violence in CAR, and in May the transitional government of CAR led by Catherine Samba-Panza urged the ICC to pursue the investigation. Prosecutor Bensouda intends to accumulate criminal evidence to identify and prosecute those responsible for the most serious crimes:

As always, our investigation will be conducted in an independent and impartial manner and will be led only by the evidence. As the investigation moves forward, we will continue to record any new crime against civilians that might be committed in CAR. Mass crimes shock the conscience of humanity and tear at the social fabric of society. Let this be a message to would-be perpetrators in CAR and beyond: such crimes will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of the law.

Violence has persisted in CAR for the past two years, with a marked escalation after the predominately Muslim-based Seleka rebels ousted the government of François Bozizé in March 2013. In June Amnesty International (AI) released a report identifying various government, militia and rebel leaders of CAR that AI believes to be responsible for serious violent offenses that have forced nearly a million people to abandon their homes over the past year. Also in June the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) stated that religious violence in the CAR has the potential for genocide, and urged other nations to intervene to stop the conflict. In March the UN established an International Commission of Inquiry into the human rights violations occurring in CAR, one month before the UN Security Council voted to create a peacekeeping force  within the country.

From Jurist, Sept. 25. Used with permission.