Forgotten, stigmatised: the double suffering of victims of international crimes

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) publishes today the english version of a report dated October 2006, untitled « Forgotten, stigmatised: the double suffering of victims of international crimes ». FIDH considers that the information contained in this report should lead the United Nations technical assessment mission presently in Central African Republic (CAR) to recommend the adoption of a Security council resolution authorizing a UN peacekeeping intervention to make the borders secure and to protect the civilian population.

The report presents the current conflict in northern CAR, pitting several rebel groups against President Bozizé, and how this sub-regional conflict relates to the tensions between Chad and Sudan. FIDH gives an account of the rebel attacks, retaliation by the government forces, and the international crimes committed by the warring parties against the civilian population. It also demonstrates that the majority of those allegedly responsible for crimes committed in 2002/2003 during the coup attempt of General Bozize, are behind the resurgence of the conflict; a convincing demonstration of the devastating effects of impunity.

In the last month, the security and humanitarian situation has worsened in CAR. Fightings has reignited in the North : Government troops engaged rebel forces that attacked Paoua town, in Ouham-Penda Province, in January 15, 2007. CAR Red Cross confirmed that 104 people, including civilians, were killed in that attack. "Most of the people in the region are living in the bush surviving on wild roots," according to Jean-Charles Dei, head of the United Nations World Food Programme in CAR. In a recent report [1], the Norwegian Refugee Council stated that « the humanitarian and human rights conditons of some 150,000 people internally displaced as a result of recurrent fighting between several rebel groups and the regular army may turn into a catastrophe. »

Moreover, the Observatory for the protection of Human Rights Defenders, joint programme of FIDH and OMCT, has been informed of recent serious threats and intimidation of the victims of international crimes who call for justice, notably against Bernadette Sayo, President of OCODEFAD, and other members of the organisation [2].

FIDH and its member organisation in CAR, the Ligue centrafricaine des droits de l’Homme, recommend that

The loyalist troops and rebel groups:
- comply strictly with the international provisions for the protection of human rights and international humanitarian law;
- allow humanitarian organisations to travel and operate in the north of the country.

The United Nations Agencies in CAR :
- provide protection and support for victims of the conflict, including members of OCODEFAD,
- make significant efforts to adress the needs of internally displaced persons.

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court:
- opens, as soon as possible, an investigation into the crimes committed in CAR since 1 July 2002 within the jurisdiction of the ICC, including the serious crimes committed since 2005 against the civilian population in the north of the country.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) technical assessment mission to Chad and CAR :
- requests the adoption of a UNSC resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter denouncing the conflict situation in northern CAR which threatens peace and security in the region, and authorizing a UN peacekeeping intervention to make the borders secure and to protect the civilian population.

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