Central African Republic

  • Rome Statute:
  • Signature: December 7, 1999
  • Ratification or Accension: October 3, 2001
  • Phase: Situations & Cases, Situations & Cases

Central African Republic

Overview

phase: Situations & Cases

Background

The Situation in the Central African Republic I (CAR I) focuses on alleged atrocity crimes committed during an armed conflict which involved CAR government forces under President Ange‐Felix Patasse, rebel forces under General Francois Bozize, and the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC). The armed conflict occurred from October 26, 2002 to March 15, 2003.

In 1960, the CAR gained independence from France. From the 1960s to the 1990s, CAR leaders ruled as dictators and were replaced in military coups. In 1993, in the CAR’s first multi-party democratic elections, President Patasse was elected. Despite the initial excitement over the CAR’s first peaceful transition of power, factions of the military attempted to overthrow President Patasse in 1996 and 1997. In October 2001, after another military coup attempt, President Patasse attempted to arrest the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Bozize, on suspicion of his involvement with the coup. President Patasse-led government forces clashed with General Bozize-led rebel forces.

On October 25, 2002, General Bozize-led rebel forces again clashed with President Patasse-led CAR government forces, which were supported by Libyan forces and MLC forces. The MLC was a rebel armed group formed by Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo to overthrow the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Mr. Bemba and President Patasse made an agreement that MLC forces would support CAR forces in exchange for the CAR government not supporting the DRC government. The MLC attacked General Bozize-led rebel forces and civilians, pillaged villages, and targeted men, women, and children for rape and sexual violence. On March 15, 2003, General Bozize-led rebel forces marched into Bangui and blocked President Patasse from returning. General Bozize declared himself president. President Bozize was elected in 2005 and, after numerous delays, re-elected in 2011.

ICC Status

The CAR is a State Party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and ratified the Rome Statute on October 3, 2001. On December 22, 2004, after receiving a referral (dated December 22, 2004) from the government of the CAR of alleged atrocity crimes committed on its territory, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) opened a preliminary investigation. On May 22, 2007, the OTP opened a formal investigation. Within the Situation in CAR I, there are the following cases: The Prosecutor v. Jean Pierre Bemba Gombo and The Prosecutor v. Bemba et al.

For more information on the Situation in CAR I, please visit the ICC page.


phase: Situations & Cases

Background

The Situation in the Central African Republic II (CAR II) focuses on alleged atrocity crimes committed during an armed conflict which involved CAR government forces under President Francois Bozize, Seleka rebel armed group, and anti-balaka rebel armed group. The armed conflict occurred from August 1, 2012 to present.  

From 2005 to 2012, amidst growing public discontent with President Bozize’s policies, armed groups formed to overthrow the CAR government. In August 2012, Seleka was formed from Muslim armed groups, under Seleka leader Michel Djotodia, to overthrow President Bozize. On December 10, 2012, Seleka launched a rebellion. By late December, Seleka had taken over the northern and central regions of the CAR and advanced towards Bangui. On January 2, 2013, Seleka agreed to enter peace talks. On January 11, 2013, President Bozize and Seleka signed the Libreville agreement which established a ceasefire and a political transition process.

On March 23, 2013, Seleka attacked Bangui; President Bozize fled the country. On April 13, 2013, Seleka leader Djotodia was declared interim president. On September 13, 2013, under international pressure to control Seleka violence, President Djotodia announced the dissolution of Seleka. However, Seleka continued to attack Christian civilians and suspected anti-balaka supporters, pillage towns, and target men, women, and children for rape, sexual violence, and mutilations. In response to Seleka’s campaign of violence, Christian armed groups formed the anti-balaka (“anti-machete”) and began their own campaign of violence against Muslim civilians and suspected Seleka supporters. In January 2014, President Djotodia resigned and Catherine Samba-Panza was declared interim president. Despite peace attempts in July 2014 and May 2015, the conflict between Seleka and anti-balaka has continued unabated.

ICC Status

The CAR is a State Party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and ratified the Rome Statute on October 3, 2001. On February 7, 2014, after receiving communications of alleged atrocity crimes committed in the CAR, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) opened a preliminary investigation. On May 30, 2014, the CAR referred itself to the ICC. In a September 2014 report, the OTP determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the Seleka committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.  In the same report, the OTP determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that anti-balaka committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. On September 24, 2014, the OTP opened a formal investigation. Within the Situation in CAR II, there are no cases.

For more information on the Situation in CAR II, please visit the ICC page.


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