The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) hopes that the cease-fire and peace agreement signed on 9 May 2008, between the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Armée populaire pour la Restauration de la Démocratie (APRD) will finally put an end to the hostilities that have been devastating the north of the country since 2005 , and allow for the return of displaced persons.
However, FIDH must denounce Article 4 of this agreement, which states that « all judicial proceedings before the Central African courts be ceased ... through the adoption of general amnesty ».
The Central African authorities have the obligation to investigate and prosecute the alleged perpetrators of human rights violations and international crimes. This obligation under international law cannot be set aside under the pretext of ’creating peace and security conditions.’ On the contrary, this very obligation is an essential condition for establishing a sustainable peace.
Therefore, FIDH requests that, in due respect of international law, the agreement excludes any type of amnesty for perpetrators of the most serious crimes, regardless of whether they are part of the APRD, of state troops, or of other armed groups. These should indeed be brought to justice.
According to the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – ratified by CAR – the state has taken an obligation to investigate into the most serious crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, and bring their perpetrators before national courts. Otherwise, the ICC, before which no amnesty law applies, can consider having the jurisdiction to open other investigations and to prosecute those responsible.
The ICC Prosecutor has already opened an investigation into crimes committed in CAR since 1 July 2002, particularly into crimes of sexual violence perpetrated in 2002/2003. He has declared several times that he was closely following the developments in the north of the country. The ICC should prosecute the perpetrators of serious international crimes that are granted amnesty at the domestic level.
The Central African government:
to respect its international obligations by denoucing the provision of the peace agreement providing for the abandonment of domestic prosecutions and granting general amnesty for perpetrators of international crimes;
to investigate international crimes committed in CAR and to take the necessary measures to prosecute the alleged perpetrators.
The ICC Prosecutor:
to continue his analysis of the crimes committed on the entire territory of CAR, to open additional investigations and to initiate prosecutions when the government is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry them out.