Africa
Sahel

Report sheds light on Wagner Group crimes in Africa

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) issued a new report on the Wagner Group’s activities in the Central African Republic and Mali, and it makes for chilling reading. The Russian mercenary group has targeted civilians in more than half of its operations in CAR and over 70% in Mali. Its CAR deployment was initially limited to training the national armed forces, but it took on a direct combat role in late 2020 as rebels threatened the capital. It won praise for helping the state capture major towns, but abuses have now angered large parts of the civilian population. In jihadist-hit Mali, the mercenaries have also been involved in a number of high-profile abuses—mostly notably in the central town of Moura, where hundreds of non-combatants were massacred. (Map: Wikivoyage)

Africa
Sudan

Wagner Group named in massacres on Sudan-CAR borderlands

Russian mercenaries are accused of carrying out a series of deadly attacks on artisanal miners in the lawless border zone between Sudan and the Central African Republic, in an apparent effort to establish dominance over outlaw gold mining operations with allied paramilitary factions. Dozens are said to have been killed in attacks on mining camps this year, allegedly involving mercenaries working for the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group. Witnesses interviewed by The Guardian described “massacres” and looting by Wagner gunmen. The “Troika” diplomatic group that helps oversee the Sudan peace process released a report in March charging that the Wagner Group is engaged in illegal gold mining in collaboration with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group backed by the Sudanese regime. Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded with a statement denying the presence of the Wagner Group in the country. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Africa
Central African Republic

Russian mercenaries accused in CAR atrocities

Forces in the Central African Republic, identified by witnesses as Russian mercenaries, “appear to have summarily executed, tortured, and beaten civilians since 2019,” Human Rights Watch finds in a new report. The United Nations announced it wil investigate the circumstances in which at least 10 people were killed last month in the CAR’s northeast, with reports alleging involvement by Russian forces from the paramilitary Wagner Group. HRW documents other such claims. Last July , apparently Russian-speaking forces killed at least 12 unarmed men near the town of Bossangoa, also in the CAR’s conflicted north. HRW is calling upon the CAR’s Special Criminal Court (SCC) or the International Criminal Court to “investigate these incidents as well as other credible allegations of abuse by Russia-linked forces with a view to criminal prosecution.” (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Africa
Central African Republic

CAR war crimes trial delayed —again

A court created seven years ago to prosecute war crimes in the Central African Republic was due to open its first trial this month. But a no-show by defense lawyers means victims’ associations and others pushing for justice will have to wait a little longer. The Bangui-based Special Criminal Court (SCC) is a hybrid tribunal composed of national and international jurists tasked with prosecuting war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. It took time to become operational because of staff recruitment challenges, insecurity, and limited resources. Arrest warrants have also not been executed, and the government has released high-profile suspects without SCC authorization. Its inaugural trial—set to resume in April—concerns three members of the 3R rebel group accused of involvement in a 2019 massacre. Rebel groups remain active across the CAR, which has one of the highest per capita humanitarian caseloads in the world. (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Africa
Central African Republic

ICC takes CAR war crimes suspect into custody

The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that former militia leader Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka, who is suspected to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic, was surrendered by the Republic of Chad. A warrant for Mokom’s arrest was issued in December 2018, when the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber II determined that Mokom was the “National Coordinator of Operations” for the Anti-Balaka militia. In this capacity, he is believed to have committed murder, deportation, imprisonment, torture, persecution and other crimes against humanity. He also allegedly committed war crimes by targeting Muslim civilians. (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Africa
jihadis

Russian mercenaries to Mali?

France, now in the process of drawing down its military presence in West Africa’s Sahel nations, criticized plans that could see Russian mercenaries brought to Mali, where jihadist groups tied to ISIS or al-Qaeda operate in large parts of the country. Reports suggest that Mali’s transitional government is considering a deal with the Wagner Group, which has close links to Vladimir Putin and is also active in Central African Republic. The Coordinating Body of Azawad Movements (CMA), a coalition of Tuareg rebel groups that signed a peace deal with the Malian government in 2015, likewise expressed its “firm opposition” to any agreement to bring in the Wagner Group. (Photo: FIDES)

Africa
Central African Republic

Chad accuses CAR troops of ‘war crime’ at border

Chad’s defense ministry charged that troops of the neighboring Central African Republic (CAR) attacked a Chadian military post, taking soldiers captive and executing them, and that this amounted to a war crime. CAR’s communications ministry said a firefight broke out by mistake when CAR troops pursued a rebel group near the Chadian border. The relationshipbetween Chad and the CAR has been tense for many years, with a history of harboring each other’s insurgent groups. Thousands of refugees have fled waves of violence related to armed insurgency in the CAR since 2013. (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Africa
Central African Republic

CAR: disputed polls spark rebel offensive

At least 100,000 people have fled their homes in Central African Republic as a rebel coalition calling for the resignation of the president launches attacks around the county, throwing into question almost two years of peace efforts. The capital, Bangui, has come under fire and major towns are occupied by the rebel coalition, which formed shortly before December elections won by President Faustin-Archange TouadĂ©ra but contested by the opposition. By capturing the western town of Bouar, the rebels—known as the Coalition of Patriots for Change, or the CPC—have cut off the main trade route linking Cameroon to Bangui in what could be a strategy to “asphyxiate” the city. (Photo: Adrienne Surprenan/TNH)

Africa
Central African Republic

Franco-Russian game in Central African Republic?

French and Russian military networks are backing rival forces to influence upcoming elections in Central African Republic according to a new report by The Sentry, a Washington-based NGO co-founded by Hollywood actor George Clooney. France used to call the shots in CAR, its former colony, but President Faustin-Archange Touadéra has allied himself to Russia and availed himself of the Wagner Group, a shadowy mercenary organization linked to Vladimir Putin. The Sentry claims France now supports a rebel coalition that opposes Touadéra—who is standing for a second term in December—though the French foreign ministry denies the accusation. All of this spells bad news for ordinary Central Africans, who have suffered under rebel groups for years. More than one in four are currently internally displaced or living as refugees in neighboring countries. (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Africa
Central African Republic

CAR: accused war criminal runs for president

Amid rising tensions and insecurity in the Central African Republic, deposed former president François BozizĂ© has announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for December. BozizĂ© is currently under UN sanctions and subject to an arrest warrant issued by the government for “crimes against humanity and incitement to genocide.” He is accused of having backed a brutal rebel movement after his ouster in 2013, fueling a civil war that has left millions displaced. However, authorities show little sign of moving to execute the warrant, and BozizĂ© has been openly working for a political comeback since returning to the country last year. (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Africa
darfur suspect

Darfur war crimes suspect transferred to Hague

Sudanese militia leader and war crimes suspect Ali Kushayb was arrested by authorities in the Central African Republic, and turned over to the International Criminal Court (ICC). His apprehension comes more than 13 years after an arrest warrant was issued for him, detailing 22 charges of crimes against humanity and 28 war crimes charges, including murder, rape and pillage. The warrant asserts that Kushayb commanded thousands of Janjaweed militia fighters from 2003-4, personally taking part in the rape and murder of civilians in villages during the Darfur conflict. (Photo via Radio Dabanga)

Africa

CAR armed groups still committing ‘war crimes’

Armed groups continue to commit war crimes with impunity in the Central African Republic, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch, calling for international efforts to bring perpetrators to justice.