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International Criminal Court Investigations CAR

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The land-locked Central African Republic has long been the scene of political unrest. After becoming independent in 1960, the country suffered three decades of military dictatorship, supported by France in the background. In 1993, civilian rule was established with the UN-led, democratic election of President Ange-Félix Patassé. However, there was significant unrest within Patassé's government and widespread discontent in the country.

In October 2002, former Army Chief of Staff François Bozizé launched a coup to overthrow Patassé. He succeeded in March 2003, and was elected president in 2005 with French support. During the five-month conflict, Patassé enlisted the support of troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo and mercenaries from Chad and Libya. Allegedly, these troops committed widespread human rights abuses, including summary executions, sexual violence, enforced disappearances, and looting.

In mid-2004, judicial authorities started criminal proceedings against Patassé and his military commanders for crimes committed against civilians. The highest court in the Central African Republic advised the government to refer the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, claiming that the national judicial system was unable to effectively investigate and prosecute crimes committed during the conflict. The government of the Central African Republic referred the case to the ICC on December 22, 2004.

On May 22 2007, the ICC opened an investigation into crimes committed in the Central African Republic. The Office of the Prosecutor has vowed to investigate allegations of serious crimes committed in the country since July 1, 2002. The investigation focuses particularly on sexual violence, which appears to have been a central feature of the conflict. In May 2008, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for former militia leader and Vice-President of the DRC, Jean-Pierre Bemba. He was arrested on May 24, 2008, and the opening of his trial is scheduled for April 27, 2010.

Articles and Documents

2009 |2008 | 2007 | 2005


Congo's Bemba Accused at Hague of Ordering Rape(January 12, 2009)

In a pretrial at the International Criminal Court prosecutors accused former Congolese rebel warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba of ordering mass rape to terrorize civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR) to prevent a coup against CAR's president Patasse. Bemba's defenders rejected the accusations claiming that Bemba's forces were under "command and control" of the Patasse government.(Reuters)


Warlord Trial Gives Victims Hope (December 8, 2008)

The ICC tries Jean-Pierre Bemba in The Hague, but because the Court only has limited resources, many other perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity evade prosecution. Human rights lawyer Mathias Morouba thinks that a conviction of Bemba will have a deterrent effect on human rights violators because they do not want to face charges for their crimes. (BBC)

ICC Secures First Arrest in Central African Republic Situation (May 25, 2008)

On May 24, 2008, Belgian authorities arrested rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo following a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Mr. Bemba is the first defendant in the ICC's investigation into the Central African Republic. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is allegedly the President and Commander in Chief of the rebel movement "Mouvement de Libération du Congo" (MLC) and is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, such as mass rape and torture. (Coalition for the International Criminal Court)


Central African Republic: ICC Opens Investigation (May 22, 2007)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched an investigation in the Central African Republic (CAR) into allegations of mass rape and war crimes committed in 2002 and 2003. According to ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Hague-based court will also review ongoing violence near the border with Chad and Sudan. Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch, says that Ocampo should impartially investigate both sides of the conflict independent of political influence.


CAR Referral to the ICC Should Be Accompanied by Judicial Reforms to Address Impunity (January 12, 2005)

The Central African Republic (CAR) is the third country to refer its war crimes situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Amnesty International (AI) commends this action but urges the CAR government to launch its own inquiry into human rights atrocities, as the ICC cannot prosecute crimes committed prior to its July 2001 inception. AI also encourages the government to implement legislation in compliance with the Rome Statute in order to overcome impunity.


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