CSOs: reject general amnesty in peace negotiations

In a statement and during a press conference on 24th August 2018, five Central African and international organisations have asked to not consider a general amnesty as part of the political dialogue between an African Union panel, functioning as mediator, and armed groups to end the violence in the country. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Central African Human Rights League (LCDH), and Central African Human Rights Observatory (OCDH) said that granting amnesty for grave human rights abuses would be incompatible with the right for accountability for victims and the duty of the CAR government to bring those responsible for war crimes to justice. 

On 29th May 2018, the Parliament of CAR approved a law ratifying the regulation of the Special Criminal Court, a hybrid court which will be composed of national and international judges, to try serious crimes committed in CAR since 2003. The court was set up in 2015 as part of the CAR judicial system with international support. The Human Rights Watch report '“Looking for Justice”. The Special Criminal Court, a New Opportunity for Victims in the Central African Republic.' examines the Court's progress till date and the challenges that lies ahead. 

Expression

On 30th July 2018, three Russian journalists were killed in Sibut, 300km from CAR's capital Bangui. Freelance war reporter Orkhan Djemal, documentary maker Alexandre Rastorgouïev and cameraman Kirill Radtchenko worked for the investigative news website Investigation Control Centre (TsUR) and were in CAR to report on the use of mercenaries and activities of the Wagner Group in CAR, a private military security company of a former Russian intelligence officer, associated with a business man close to Russian president Putin.    

According to the TsUR's editor, the three visited a day before their murder a base presumed to be of Wagner's in Bangui and were turned away on the grounds of not having the necessary accreditation. TsUR is owned by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a well-known opponent of Russian president Putin and a former Russian oligarch who has been living in exile. Secretary-general of Reporters without Borders Christophe Deloir commented

“Four years after French photojournalist Camille Lepage was killed in the CAR, this triple murder has shown the degree to which it is still extremely dangerous for journalists to cover the conflict in this country”

Peaceful Assembly

On 10th May 2018, a protest of tens of people was dispersed by security forces, who fired shots in the center of Bangui. The protest, to denounce the deterioration of the security in Bangui, was organised on the call of Joseph Bendounga, leader of political opposition party Mouvement Démocratique pour la Renaissance et l'Evolution de Centrafrique (MDREC). Bendounga was briefly detained by police officers before being released. The march was banned by authorities. According to Radio Ndeke Luka, on 21st May a new protest to demand the lifting of the arms embargo against the CAR government, and the rehabilitation of the Armed Forces of CAR was prevented from taking place in Bangui, as Bendouga was yet again briefly detained. 

On 9th May 2018, civil society organised a protest action "ville morte" against the increasing violence in Bangui - in particular in the Muslim neighbourhood PK5 and surroundings and the deadly attack against the church Fatima on 1st May - which lead to tens of casualties.