The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that she is opening a second investigation into the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) with respect to crimes allegedly committed since 2012.
Fatou Bensouda recalled in a statement issued to the press that in February of this year, following an escalation of violence in CAR, she opened a new preliminary examination to assess whether or not to proceed with an investigation into what was a “dire” situation in the country.
Thousands of people are estimated to have been killed in CAR in a conflict which erupted when mainly Muslim Séléka rebels launched attacks in December 2012 and then took on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) took up arms.
“My Office has gathered and scrupulously analysed relevant information from multiple reliable sources. Based on this independent and comprehensive analysis, I have concluded that an investigation is warranted,” said Ms. Bensouda.
“The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that both the Séléka and the anti-Balaka groups have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, rape, forced displacement, persecution, pillaging, attacks against humanitarian missions and the use of children under 15 in combat.
“The list of atrocities is endless. I cannot ignore these alleged crimes.”
CAR – specifically the events relating to the events of 2002-2003 – was already one of eight situations already under investigation by the Court, along with the Darfur region of Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Libya, Mali and northern Uganda.
The transitional government of CAR decided to refer the situation to the Prosecutor’s Office on 30 May 2014, requesting the investigation into alleged crimes falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction committed in the country since 1 August 2012.
“The 30 May 2014 referral by the CAR authorities demonstrates a commitment to fight impunity for mass crimes and to bring justice to the victims. We look forward to their full cooperation as we conduct our investigation into these crimes,” said Ms. Bensouda.
“As the investigation moves forward, we will continue to record any new crime against civilians that might be committed in CAR,” she added.
“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.”