War criminals terrorise civilians at will
From JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – A crumbling justice system, repeated prison breaks and incapacitated government are igniting a cycle of war crimes in the troubled Central African Republic (CAR).
As a result of the crises, perpetrators of crimes including killing and rape during the raging conflict are evading investigation and arrest, and in some cases live side by side with their victims.
Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International Central Africa administrator, said thousands of victims across the country are waiting for justice to be served but to no avail.
“Yet, individuals who have committed horrific crimes roam free. This is impunity on a staggering scale,” he said in Kinshasa.
The justice system, which was weak before the conflict pitting Muslim and Christian extremists began in 2012, was further undermined by destruction of court records during fighting and legal personnel forced to flee.
There are few functioning courts outside of the capital Bangui. Only eight out of 35 prisons in the country are functional.
A lack of capacity within government and the United Nations peacekeeping force have hampered efforts to ensure accountability.
Ironically, peacekeepers have been accused of raping civilians.
Nonetheless, the peacekeeping force helped national authorities arrest 384 perpetrators to the conflict between September 2014 and October 2016.
However, this included a handful of high-profile individuals, while 130 escaped from prison in September 2015.
Amnesty International has called for the comprehensive overhaul of CAR’s national justice system, including by rebuilding its courts, prisons and police force.
It recommended a special criminal court to help bring perpetrators to account.
– CAJ NEWS
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