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Central African Republic

    September 29, 2015

    Released 00:01 GMT 30 September 2015

    The Central African Republic’s (CAR) biggest traders have purchased diamonds worth several million dollars without adequately investigating whether they financed armed groups responsible for summary executions, rape, enforced disappearances and widespread looting, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    The report, Chains of Abuse: The global diamond supply chain and the case of the Central African Republic, documents several other abuses in the diamond sector, including child labour and tax abuse.

    CAR’s diamond companies could soon start exporting diamonds stockpiled during the on-going conflict in which 5,000 have died. An export ban in place since May 2013 will be partially lifted once the government meets conditions set in July 2015 by the Kimberley Process, which is responsible for preventing the international trade in blood diamonds. Before the conflict, diamonds represented half the country’s exports.

    September 28, 2015

      
    The new wave of violence which has left dozens of civilians dead and at least 100 injured highlights the fragility of the reconciliation process and the urgent need for enhanced protection of civilians, disarmament and an end to impunity in Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today. 

    Clashes erupted over the weekend in the capital Bangui and have continued today.  

    “The deadly violence in the capital illustrates that CAR remains in a very fragile state and that immediate action must be taken to enhance the capacity of UN peacekeepers to detect and respond effectively to such incidents before escalation of attacks on civilians,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International regional director for West and Central Africa. 

    “Small arms have been used by all sides to the conflict to attack civilians. The disarmament of all civilians and armed groups therefore needs to be speeded up to prevent all sides to the conflict using these weapons to commit further crimes under international law, including war crimes.”  

    August 13, 2015

    The UN must review the oversight of its peacekeeping operations, Amnesty International said ahead of today’s Security Council meeting called to discuss allegations of sexual abuse in the Central African Republic (CAR) revealed on Tuesday.

    “If the UN is determined to end the scourge of sexual abuse and exploitation by its peacekeepers, it must finally recognize that the current system is not working. It has failed to address abuses in the past, failing the victims it was supposed to protect,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International. 

    “Ban Ki-moon himself has said that trust in UN peacekeepers must not be replaced by fear. But until the UN acts to ensure rigorous screening mechanisms for peacekeepers and increased criminal accountability for their actions, such atrocities will continue.”

    On Wednesday Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the CAR and head of MINUSCA, Babacar Gaye, resigned at the request of the UN Secretary-General. 

    August 11, 2015

    The rape of a 12-year-old girl and the apparent indiscriminate killings of a 16-year-old boy and his father by UN peacekeeping forces in the Central African Republic must be urgently investigated, with those implicated in the crimes suspended immediately, Amnesty International said.

    The incidents took place on 2 and 3 August as peacekeeping forces from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) were carrying out an operation in the capital Bangui’s PK5 Muslim enclave.

    “Our evidence strongly suggests that a UN peacekeeper raped a young girl and that UN peacekeeping forces indiscriminately killed two civilians,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

    “An independent civilian investigation must be urgently launched and those implicated must be suspended immediately and for the duration of the investigation.”

    July 30, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs BST   31 July 2015

    Muslims returning to ethnically-cleansed areas of western CAR have in some cases been forced to abandon their religion, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

    The report, “Erased identity: Muslims in ethnically cleansed areas of the Central African Republic”, reveals how Muslims who have returned to their homes in large parts of western CAR following the 2014 killing spree and mass forced displacement are barred by armed anti-balaka militia from practicing or manifesting their religion in public. Some have been forcibly converted to Christianity on the threat of death.

    “Having forced tens of thousands of Muslims to flee western CAR, anti-balaka militias are now repressing the religious identity of the hundreds of Muslims who remained or who have returned,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.

    May 13, 2015

    The rejection of any claim to immunity and the strong call to bring to trial those suspected of criminal responsibility for crimes under international law and human rights violations are a positive step towards justice in Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today, following the conclusions of a national reconciliation forum.

    “For years, the usual solution to crises in the Central African Republic has been one of compromise and accommodation towards those responsible for the conflicts and violations. This week the delegates of the forum clearly indicated that the party was over and that justice cannot wait,” said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

    May 11, 2015

    The disarmament agreement between rival armed groups and the government in the Central African Republic (CAR) must support efforts to ensure justice for crimes under international law and must not allow impunity, Amnesty International said today.

    Towards the end of a national forum yesterday, 10 rival armed groups signed a deal with the transitional authorities to lay down their arms and enter in a process of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation.

    “If this deal is serious and accompanied by measures to hold accountable those suspected of crimes under international law, it could be an opportunity to move away from a conflict that has seen massive violations of human rights and cost thousands of lives,” said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

    May 03, 2015

    Released 00:01 GMT on 4 May 2015

    Authorities in Central African Republic should amend clauses in a proposed new constitution that could undermine the fight against impunity, Amnesty International said ahead of a national reconciliation forum in Bangui.

    In an open letter to delegates attending the Bangui Forum starting on 4 May, the organisation warns that the current draft constitution could allow any serving president immunity from prosecution for all charges except “high treason”. Likewise former presidents could be exempt due to their honorary membership of the Constitutional Court.

    “Amnesties and immunities only perpetuate the cycle of conflict and injustice. The current draft constitution should be amended to recognize that everyone, no matter their position, can be held accountable for crimes under international law,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

    April 24, 2015

    (Bangui) – The Central African Republic's National Transitional Council has taken decisive action for justice for the victims of atrocities by adopting a law to establish a Special Criminal Court within the national justice system, 23 Central African and international human rights organizations said today.

    The draft law, which the government sent to the transitional parliament on February 6, 2015, was adopted by an overwhelming majority on April 22 during a plenary session. The special court will investigate and prosecute those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic since 2003.

    “By approving the Special Criminal Court, National Transition Council members said that ‘enough is enough’ with impunity and showed that they firmly stand on the side of justice for the victims who lost their lives or suffered atrocities,” said the human rights organizations. “There is no time to lose for the government and its international partners to ensure that the Special Criminal Court is up and running as soon as possible.”

    December 11, 2014

    The failure of the Central African Republic authorities and the United Nations to effectively investigate war crimes is perpetuating the cycle of violence and fear in the country, Amnesty International said in a report today.

    Central African Republic: Impunity is fuelling violence, based on a mission to CAR by Amnesty International researchers, details how some leaders and members of armed groups have continued to commit further atrocities and defy the rule of law. This is despite Amnesty International publishing evidence last July that raised reasonable suspicion of the involvement of a number of them in serious abuses including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    “The failure to hold accountable those implicated in the killing of civilians, the use of child soldiers and the burning of villages means they are not only able to walk free, but also to continue terrorising the population without fear of repercussions,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.  

    November 05, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 6 November 2014

    The UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) must take bold measures to protect civilians amid an escalating wave of sectarian attacks in the central regions of the country, said Amnesty International after visiting some of the most affected areas. 

    Despite the deployment of a new UN peacekeeping mission on 15 September, dozens of civilians, including several children, have been killed and thousands more displaced in recent weeks.

    While the capital city, Bangui, has been rocked by renewed violence since early October, populations living in the central regions of the Central African Republic have been particularly hit by a surge in conflict between different armed groups.

    “If the UN peacekeeping mission is to have any credibility, it must take stronger steps to effectively protect civilians from the raft of abuses they are facing,” said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

    October 28, 2014

    By Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International

    In Bangui’s Nguingo neighbourhood, up the Oubangui river from the city center, people are scared.

    “There are rumors that the anti-balaka are going to attack again this afternoon,” a local resident told me when I visited there on Wednesday.

    “They want to teach us a lesson.”

    Over the past year, the Central African Republic has become notorious for the intensity of its sectarian violence. After the majority-Muslim Seleka government left power in January 2014, a wave of ethnic cleansing swept the country, leaving much of the territory entirely empty of Muslims. Thousands were killed. The seleka have also been responsible for serious abuses in various parts of the country including in the capital Bangui.

    October 09, 2014

    The United Nations peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic (CAR) faces its biggest test since being deployed last month, Amnesty International said today amid reports of armed clashes and sectarian violence in the capital Bangui which resulted in the killing of civilians.

    “These disturbing reports present the biggest test yet for the MINUSCA peacekeeping force. It must do all it can to protect civilians threatened by the renewed violence,” said Amnesty International’s CAR researcher Christian Mukosa.

    “The biggest fear for civilians in the CAR is a return to the devastating levels of violence witnessed by Amnesty International in December 2013. MINUSCA must work with all parties to the conflict to prevent unlawful killings and attacks on civilians.”

    Heavy machine gun and mortar fire, as well as ransacking and burning of homes and businesses has been reported in various parts of the city amid clashes between Seleka, anti-Balaka forces and other armed groups. However, the CAR transitional authorities have so far remained silent on the escalating violence. 

    September 14, 2014
    Amnesty International is calling on the UN to bring MINUSCA its agreed full capacity of around 12,000 troops and police in the Central African Republic. © Amnesty International

    The new United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) must be urgently brought up to full capacity to enable it to ensure the protection of a civilian population vulnerable to serious human rights violations, said Amnesty International today as the mission deploys.

    As the UN peacekeeping mission takes over authority from African Union (AU) peacekeepers, Amnesty International is concerned that the initial deployment - only around 65 percent of its full strength – will struggle to fulfil its expanded mandate that includes the protection of civilians and stabilization and securitization of the country.

    August 06, 2014

    Following the resignation of the Prime Minister and his cabinet, Amnesty International has called on the relevant Central African Republic (CAR) authorities, including Transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza, to ensure that those suspected of involvement in crimes under international law are not given a seat in government.

    These individuals must instead be brought to justice in fair trials with no recourse to the death penalty.

    “CAR transitional authorities must ensure that the changes in the make-up of the government do not result in a situation where new cabinet members use their position to commit further violations or prevent effective investigations against themselves or their allies,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s CAR Researcher.

    Amnesty International has received credible information that persons suspected of serious human rights abuses are seeking positions within the new government.

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