NGOs and Victims Take Civil Action Against an Anti-Balaka Leader to Combat Impunity

Today, our organisations [1] have taken civil action together with several victims, as part of the judicial proceedings opened against Rodrigue Ngaïbona, alias General Andjilo, a self-proclaimed anti-Balaka general.

Our organisations have also established a pool of Central African and international lawyers to fight against impunity in the Central African Republic (CAR). The hope is to enable the victims of the most horrific crimes committed by all parties to the conflict, whether anti-Balaka, ex-Seleka or other armed groups, to have access to the justice services in the CAR courts and before the future Special Criminal Court (SCC). Our organisations welcome the determination of the CAR authorities to have the perpetrators of the most serious crimes prosecuted before courts, in compliance with the demands expressed by the population during the Bangui National Forum.

On 16 June 2015, our organisations, together with two victims, filed as civil parties before the dean of the examining magistrates of the Bangui Regional court (Tribunal de grande instance) in the judicial proceedings against Rodrigue Ngaïbona, alias General Andjilo, an anti-Balaka leader from Bouca, suspected of assassination, sequestration, retaining war weapons, crimes of torture and other crimes constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity. First arrested by the international MINUSCA troops on 17 January 2015 in Bouca, he was later transferred to Bangui where he is still being detained. In reaction to his arrest and to obtain his release, some anti-Balaka elements on 19 January 2015, took revenge by abducting and forcibly confining a female Iraqi member of the MINUSCA, a French woman, and a Central African humanitarian worker.

The civil action that our organisations have taken in this case is only the first step in our efforts to guarantee the effective participation of the victims in the judicial proceedings targeting the most serious crimes committed in the Central African Republic. Similarly, we will support the victims of the ex-Seleka to have access to justice so that all the perpetrators of the most serious crimes are held accountable. This also includes those among the international troops, if the allegations about them prove to be true”, stated Eric Plouvier, a lawyer for the victims and FIDH chargé de mission, speaking in Bangui where the organisations held a press conference.

The aim of the ’Pool of lawyers against impunity’ is to serve all CAR victims, to represent them pro bono before the courts. That is our commitment to the victims as lawyers and as human rights activists, said Albert Panda, lawyer and OCDH Vice President.

The Special Criminal Court is composed of 27 judges (13 international and 14 national) and will operate within the Central African justice system for a renewable 5-year period. The Court will be responsible for judging the perpetrators of the most serious crimes committed in CAR since 2003. The bill was adopted by the National Transition Council on 22 April 2015 and was enacted into law by the President of the Transition on 4 June 2015.

The Special Criminal Court will be complementary to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to which the Central African authorities referred on 30 May 2014. On 24 September 2014, the ICC Prosecutor announced the opening of an investigation into crimes within its jurisdiction committed in the CAR since 1 September 2012. Since the ICC focuses on the prosecution of the most senior leaders, the Special Criminal Court will be responsible for investigating and prosecuting the dozens of other perpetrators of serious human rights violations committed in CAR since 2012.

We urge the international community to make sure that the future Special Criminal Court receives the support and funding it needs to be able to function properly, and to ensure the safety of its staff, the victims and the witnesses who will be participating in the proceedings, especially during the investigations period, said Joseph Bindoumi, LCDH President.

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