Major protagonist of the crisis in the Central African Republic arrested in France following ICC request

Press release
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Less than a month after the transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Alfred « Rombhot » Yekatom, another war lord Patrice Édouard Ngaïssona has been arrested to be transferred to The Hague. This former general coordinator of the Anti-Balaka militias in Central African Republic (CAR) has been arrested in France today, after the ICC issued an arrest warrant. Our organisations now call on the CAR authorities and the ICC to bring criminal proceedings against former Seleka war lords, to ensure that all parties involved in the serious crimes committed in CAR since 2012 are tried.

Today, the ICC announced that following its request, the French authorities had arrested Édouard Patrice Ngaïssona, former leader of an armed group, former general coordinator of the Anti-Balaka, and former minister. This arrest was carried out following an arrest warrant issued by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II. The cooperation of the French authorities should ensure the transfer of Ngaïssona to The Hague happens shortly.

ICC has reason to believe that he has carried out war crimes and crimes against humanity, at least from September 2013 to December 2014, in what the Court qualifies as « systematic and widespread attacks carried out by the Anti-Balaka against the Muslim civilian population and anyone perceived to support the Seleka ».

In our report released in 2014 « They must all leave or die », our organisations had already pointed out the responsibility and the role of Ngaïssona as general coordinator of the Anti-Balaka.

"Let us not be fooled, with Ngaïssona, it is finally a big fish that was caught in the ICC’s net. The arrest of this former coordinator of the Anti-Balaka in Bangui – who also happened to be one of Bozizé’s ministers – shows the capacity of the international justice to go after those directly responsible for bloody violence in CAR since 2012."

Drissa Traoré, FIDH Vice President

Patrice Edouard Ngaïssona is far from being an unknown figure. This business man has close ties to former President François Bozizé, who is actually a relative of his, and whom he served as Minister of Youth and Sports as well as a Parliamentarian in his political party. At the time, Ngaïssona is suspected to have armed two young militia groups who supported Bozizé. After the fall of the President in March 2013, he left the country for several months. He came back to set up an armed group in Bangui and to become the general coordinator of the Anti-Balaka at the national level. In February 2014, he told FIDH he had « a hand on about 50 to 70 000 men in the West and had control of the provinces ».

"According to our investigations, Ngaïssona has been one of the main links between former president Bozizé and the Anti-Balaka military command during the crisis."

Mr Albert Panda, Vice President of OCDH

"For the ICC he constitutes undoubtedly the missing link between the militia of killers and François Bozizé."

Florent Geel, Head of the FIDH Africa Desk

Our organisations welcome this major step, made possible by the cooperation of the French authorities and call on the ICC and the CAR authorities to continue arresting war lords, in order to break the cycle of impunity and abuses which has plunged CAR into chaos since 2012.

For this purpose, they call for the prosecution of former Seleka leaders, a coalition of armed groups who had taken power in 2013 through war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"In order to avoid accusations of being biased, the ICC history reveals the importance of judging all parties to a conflict, who have been responsible for massacres and serious abuses, especially as the militias continue to terrorise the population in CAR. This is why we request that the former Selekas be arrested and prosecuted."

Joseph Bindoumi, President of LCDH
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