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“I Can Still Smell the Dead”: The Forgotten Human Rights Crisis in the Central African Republic

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On December 10, 2012, an alliance of three
major rebel groups known as the Seleka coalition began a campaign to overthrow
the government of President François Bozizé of the Central
African Republic (CAR). On March 24, 2013, Seleka rebels took control of
Bangui, CAR’s capital, and also seized control of 15 of the country’s
16 provinces. Michel Djotodia, one of the rebel groups’ leaders, suspended
the constitution, and installed himself as interim president—a role to
which he was subsequently elected by a transitional government. Elections are
to be held after 18 months.

The Seleka (“alliance” in
Sango, the main national language) said they aimed to liberate the country and
bring peace and security to the people. But for most Central Africans, 2013 has
been a dark year, marked by rising violence and vicious Seleka attacks against
civilians in Bangui and the provinces. With no checks on their power, the
Seleka rule arbitrarily and with complete impunity, with the government failing
to follow through on its public commitment to bring to justice those
responsible for recent abuses.

Seleka forces have destroyed numerous rural
villages, looted country-wide, and raped women and girls. In one attack in
Bangui on March 25, Seleka fighters raped two sisters, aged 33 and 23, in their
home. The younger sister, who was eight-months pregnant, lost her baby the next
day. Rape survivors lack access to adequate health care due to insecurity and
lack of health services. Civilians who have been abused have nowhere to turn:
the civilian administrative state in CAR has collapsed. In most provinces there
are no police or courts. Many health clinics across the country do not
function, and in at least one town a hospital has been occupied by the Seleka; most
schools are closed.

Interim President Djotodia has denied that
Seleka fighters have committed abuses, and continues to shift blame for the
violence between Bozizé loyalists, “false Seleka,” and
bandits—even though at least one Seleka official in the field admitted
responsibility for some attacks to Human Rights Watch. “That was us, the
Seleka,” the executive secretary of the highest-ranking Seleka commander in
Bouca told Human Rights Watch after two villages were burned.

Human Rights Watch conducted extensive
field research in the Central African Republic from April to June 2013 to
document individual cases and identify patterns of violence committed by the
Seleka. The research focused primarily on attacks against civilians and the
destruction of civilian property. Human Rights Watch confirmed the deliberate
killing of scores of civilians—including women, children, and the elderly—between
March and June 2013, and received reports of hundreds more from credible
sources. Human Rights Watch also confirmed the deliberate destruction of more
than 1,000 homes.

The recent fighting has further exacerbated
an already grim humanitarian crisis in CAR, a desperately poor landlocked
country with high rates of mortality, disease, and food insecurity. In the areas
Human Rights Watch visited, thousands of villagers were living in life-threatening
conditions. The Seleka stole or destroyed food and seed stocks, and there are
now massive food shortages. Residents—including children—are living
in the bush near their fields and homes, in tents made from trees and leaves.
Most have no access to clean water. In this dire situation, the people of CAR
have been left to fend for themselves.

Humanitarian organizations are themselves
vulnerable to Seleka attacks, impeding outreach to affected populations.
Civilians looked to the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in Central
African Republic (MICOPAX), a regional peacekeeping mission led by the Economic
Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and in particular its military
force, the Multinational Forces for Central Africa (FOMAC), for desperately
needed protection. On July 19, 2013, the Peace and Security Council at the
African Union (AU) adopted a decision to transition MICOPAX into the
International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (AFISM-CAR) and
to initially support the political transition for six months.

The Bozizé government, and
particularly the Presidential Guard, have also been accused of committing
serious human rights abuses, especially in northern CAR. Human Rights Watch
interviewed former prisoners jailed under Bozizé’s rule who were recently
released from an illegal detention facility at the Bossembélé
military training center. Prisoners there were held incommunicado for months
and even years at a time; were denied food, water, and other basic services;
and were tortured, they told Human Rights Watch. The prisoners said that
Bozizé was present during torture sessions at the center, where he had a
villa flanked by two concrete standing cells in which individuals were left
until they died.

In 2013, however,
the overwhelming majority of attacks against civilians were committed in
Seleka-held territory—including by very young fighters, possibly child
soldiers around 13 years old.

Abuses
Committed by the Seleka in the Provinces

As the Seleka moved down to Bangui from the
northeast, they captured major towns along the way. In these towns, the Seleka
immediately began to loot the homes of the
civilian population; those who tried to resist were threatened, injured, or
killed.

Human Rights Watch documented attacks on villages
by Seleka forces and their allies in northern CAR between February and June
2013. This research focused on a broad triangle of territory within the main
roads linking Kaga Bandoro, Batangafo, and Bossangoa.

Evidence indicates that Seleka fighters
forced villagers out of their homes in order to loot them. Some villagers
reported that the attacks were designed to create space for members of the
Mbarara community—nomadic pastoralists who move
their cattle between Chad and the Central African Republic and have recently
been allied with the Seleka.

Human Rights Watch recorded more than 1,000
homes destroyed in at least 34 villages along these roads. Schools and churches
were also looted and burned. The Seleka killed scores of civilians while they
were trying to flee and have prompted whole communities to flee into the
bush—including 113 families from Maorka. “Now I sleep in the fields,”
one Maorka resident said. “I made a small hut out of leaves for my wife
and our three children. I cannot come back because we do not have beds or our
food stock and there is no security. [The Seleka] took all of our farming
tools, they took our hoes. We have to use our hands.”

In one attack, Seleka forces, in
collaboration with a self-appointed mayor, Adoum Takaji, executed five men and
killed five more people as they attempted to escape the village of Ouin. Eyewitnesses
described how Takaji went door to door in the village, reassuring fearful
residents it was safe to come out to talk to the Seleka. “The first few left
their homes, five of them, and were grouped under a tree,” one eyewitness
said. “Their arms were attached to each other. They were then shot down
one by one. Takaji was only 50 meters away.” Several witnesses told Human
Rights Watch that one individual did not die straight away and the Seleka cut
his throat. Later, when some residents returned to the village to bury their
dead, the Seleka fired on them again, forcing them to flee once more into the bush.
“I can still smell the dead,” one said.

In another attack, on May 19, Seleka forces
killed 12 villagers trying to flee from three villages on the Bossangoa-Boguila
road. According to residents, members of the Mbarara community also attacked
villages outside Batangafo around this time.

Villagers who chose not to leave their
homes live in perpetual fear of the prospect of renewed Seleka attacks. These
traumatized residents told Human Rights Watch that when they hear a vehicle
approaching they run.

Abuses Committed by the
Seleka in Bangui

As soon as the Seleka took Bangui on March
24, they started to attack civilians and pillage the city. Human Rights Watch gathered
credible testimony that the Seleka killed civilians the day the rebels entered
the capital. Virtually every neighborhood was attacked:

On March 27, Seleka forces killed 17
unarmed people in the Damala neighborhood.

On April 12, a rocket attack injured 15
people, including 13 children, in the Walingba neighborhood. Two of the
children required amputations.

On April 13, Seleka forces killed 18
unarmed people around the Ngaragba Bridge near the Ouango and Kassai
neighborhoods, forcing some residents to flee across the Ubangui River to
neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. Witnesses described seeing Seleka
forces kill a priest on the bridge as he appealed for calm holding a Bible
aloft. “Three Seleka fighters stepped out of the pick-up,
walked toward him and shot him dead,” one witness
said.Another
witness recounted how a Seleka fighter shot a woman carrying a baby on her
back and left her for dead in the street, with her crying infant still
strapped to her.

Between April 13 and 14, Seleka forces
attacked the neighborhood of Boy-Rabe and killed approximately 28 unarmed
people including three killed in a Seleka rocket attack on a church in
Boy-Rabe; 13 people, including children, were seriously injured.

On
April 15, Seleka killed the 26-year-old wife and 18-month-old daughter of a
truck driver, whose vehicle they wanted in order to transport stolen goods. A
witness described how Seleka shot the baby in the head, before killing her
mother as she approached the door to the family house. An eyewitness heard
one Seleka say simply to
another, “The baby’s head exploded and the wife was shot
dead.”

On June 29, Seleka forces attacked the
Gobongo neighborhood and killed at least six unarmed people.

Once they took Bangui, the Seleka began
targeting members of the national army, the Central African Armed Forces (Forces
Armées Centrafricaines
, FACA). Human Rights Watch has recorded
numerous cases of extrajudicial killings of members of the FACA by the Seleka.
In the worst incident on April 18, residents found the bodies of eight members
of the FACA 15 kilometers outside Bangui on the Sceaux Bridge. Family members
of some of the victims had to go and retrieve the bodies of their loved ones
from the bridge.

The Seleka also summarily executed men it
believed were FACA members. On April 15, the Seleka executed five men at the
Mpoko River outside Bangui. Human Rights Watch received other credible reports
of the killing of suspected FACA at the river.

The Need for Accountability

The lack of accountability for serious
human rights abuses committed since independence in the Central African
Republic has contributed to renewed cycles of violence and the breakdown of
normative behavior, further fueling abuses. As one lawyer and local human
rights defender said, “Now a waiter is killed after giving a beer, a taxi
driver is killed after transporting a person.… This is the negation of
the existence of humanity.”

Part of the problem of poor accountability relates
to the loose command structure within the Seleka and the difficulty that
high-ranking generals have maintaining control over their troops. Fighters
often only answer to their direct commander, and different factions do not
necessarily recognize one another. In April 2013, Human Rights Watch recorded
multiple incidents of Seleka fighters killing other Seleka fighters to control
territory in Bangui. Human Rights Watch also found inadequate efforts by Seleka
leaders to ensure their subordinates do not commit serious abuses or are punished
for crimes committed.

The transitional government appears unable
to reign in Seleka forces or to restore order in the country. However, the
larger problem stems from the government’s unwillingness to recognize
that Seleka are committing abuses and/or bring to justice those responsible.

On May 20, President Djotodia set up a National
Commission of Inquiry, composed of judges, human rights defenders, and police
officers, to investigate serious crimes committed in the country since 2002.
The commission has the authority to look into crimes committed both in the
Bozizé era and since the Seleka took power. However, as of the end of
June, the commission had not yet received funds or logistical support from the
transitional government that would allow it to start its work.

The minister of justice has publicly
committed to investigate and prosecute those responsible for past and current
abuses. However, few steps have been taken and any efforts lacked impartiality.
Isolated arrests of so-called false Seleka have occurred in connection with
recent looting in the capital, but the state prosecutor has failed to carry out
investigations or to arrest Seleka. The state prosecutor has also failed to investigate

more serious crimes, including
extrajudicial killings, rape, pillage, and torture. The only other cases being
investigated appear to target members of the former government, including
former President Bozizé and other former ministers.

The Seleka was formed partly due to
frustration over the Bozizé government’s refusal to investigate
crimes committed in the northeast by both rebel groups and government forces since
mid-2005. Yet, the Seleka are now committing similar abuses with near total
impunity in Bangui and the provinces. Human Rights Watch welcomes the
establishment of a commission of inquiry and the government’s stated
commitment to tackle impunity. But we are concerned about the lack of political
will to ensure fair and impartial justice for all persons responsible for
abuses. National judicial authorities must make legitimate efforts to hold
violators of human rights responsible, including Seleka members, in order to
ensure equitable justice.

To the Transitional Government of the Central
African Republic

Issue
a public declaration that the government will not tolerate attacks on civilians
and will hold accountable anyone found responsible for murder, rape, pillage,
and other serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights
law.

Investigate
and prosecute, in accordance with international fair trial standards, all
persons against whom there is evidence of criminal responsibility for grave
crimes, including those liable under command responsibility, for their failure
to prevent or prosecute these crimes
.

Investigate
attacks on schools, medical centers, and humanitarian actors, and prosecute or
take disciplinary measures against any member of the Seleka found responsible.

Restore
law and order in the 15 provinces under its control by urgently deploying
provincial military commanders under the leadership of the Ministry of Public
Security and the Ministry of Defence and deploying the provincial governors
(Préfets) under the leadership of the Ministry of Territorial
Administration.

After
a vetting process to exclude individuals who have committed human rights
abuses, reinstate security institutions in the country, including the police,
the gendarmerie, and the regular army. Ensure that members of the police,
gendarmerie, and military are trained on human rights and international
humanitarian law before deployment.

Ensure
that Seleka fighters found responsible for serious human rights abuses are not
reintegrated into (or allowed to join) the national army and are not given
other official positions within the government.

Ensure
all police, gendarmes, and soldiers receive a regular and adequate salary, and
enforce a zero tolerance policy on looting.

Ensure
all soldiers are lodged in military barracks in order to ensure they do not
occupy schools or hospitals.

Provide
the National Commission of Inquiry with the necessary resources to promptly,
thoroughly, and independently investigate allegations of human rights abuses by
all parties, including by Seleka rebels.

Provide
access to health and other services for victims of human rights violations,
paying special attention to the needs of women and girls who have survived
sexual violence.

Expedite
the rebuilding, repair, and re-opening of schools.

Seek
financial and technical assistance from international donors, and give
guarantees that all steps will be taken to ensure fair and credible domestic
investigations and prosecutions of grave crimes.

Seek
financial and technical assistance from international donors to support the
National Commission of Inquiry and give guarantees that all steps will be taken
to ensure the inquiry will be objective, transparent, and efficient.

Continue
to provide full cooperation and unhindered access to the International Criminal
Court and other human rights investigators.

To Seleka

Forces

Cease
immediately all attacks on civilians. Put in place measures to deter, prevent,
and punish individuals who commit human rights abuses and cooperate with all
national investigations and prosecutions of Seleka members, including the National
Commission of Inquiry.

Cease
immediately all attacks on humanitarian actors and make public assurances that
they will have safe passage to carry out their work.

Cease
all recruitment and use of children as soldiers. Groups that have already
concluded action plans with the United Nations (the Convention of Patriots for
Justice and Peace [CPJP] and the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity [UFDR])
should fulfil all obligations under these agreements. All other groups that
have been listed by the United Nations Secretary-General’s annual report
on children and armed conflict (the CPJP, the Patriotic Convention for the
Salvation of Kodro [CPSK], and the Union of Republican Forces [UFR]) should
develop plans to address grave violations against children.

Cease
immediately all attacks on schools and medical centers. If occupied, vacate
these premises immediately. Prohibit the use of such facilities in any manner
in violation of international humanitarian law, or which impede the right to
education.

Put
in place measures to prevent harassment or intimidation by Seleka members of
any potential witnesses in future investigations or a national commission of
inquiry.

To the
Economic Community
of Central African States
(ECCAS)

Urgently
bolster peacekeeping efforts in the Central African Republic by implementing
the African Union Peace and Security Council’s July 19, 2013, decision to
protect civilians, restore security and public order, and create the necessary
security conditions for the provision of humanitarian assistance.

Deploy
additional, trained, and well-equipped troops throughout the country to ensure
civilian protection.

To the
African Union Peace and Security Council

and
AFISM-CAR

Ensure
that the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African
Republic (AFISM-CAR) has the logistical and financial support to fulfil its
mandate on civilian protection.

Consider
troop deployment from other member states and expanding the nucleus of the
contingent to countries that were not originally a part of MICOPAX.

Exclude
any troops from AFISM-CAR whose presence might compromise the perceived
neutrality of the AU force.

To the
United Nations Security Council

Impose
targeted sanctions against individuals, including Seleka leaders, responsible
for serious human rights abuses since December 2012, as recommended by UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

As
requested by the AU, give full support to the AU and ECCAS to facilitate the
implementation of AFISM-CAR’s mandate to protect civilians, including
through the provision of the necessary financial, logistical, and technical
support.

Expand
the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the
Central African Republic (BINUCA) to allow the mission to monitor, investigate
and report publicly and to the Council on any abuses or violations of human
rights or international humanitarian law committed throughout the country.

Ask
the UN secretary general to deploy a group of experts in the protection of
civilians to the Central African Republic to inquire into, and rapidly report
on, civilian protection needs and challenges. The group should recommend
concrete measures to advance the protection of civilians, ensure unhindered
humanitarian access and assistance, and end impunity for serious crimes and
violations of international law.

Task
the BINUCA with monitoring closely the Central African Republic
government’s pursuit of justice to ensure that national efforts to
investigate and prosecute those responsible for abuses are carried out in
accordance with international fair trial standards.

Request
to be briefed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the fact-finding
mission to the Central African Republic conducted in June and July and covering
human rights violations committed in Bangui and other localities since December
2012.

To the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding
Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA)

Ensure
the office’s Human Rights and Justice Unit has the necessary resources
and staff to effectively monitor, investigate, and report on past and on-going
human rights abuses in the Central African Republic.

Provide
assistance to the National Commission of Inquiry and urge the transitional
government to investigate and prosecute all persons against whom there is
evidence of criminal responsibility for grave crimes.

Assist
the government to re-establish the rule of law with a focus on the independence
and impartiality of the justice system, the humane treatment of detainees, and
the protection of the accused and witnesses.

To the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Publish
an interim report on the human rights situation including the findings of the
OHCHR fact-finding mission to CAR in June-July, as well as continue to report
publicly on any deterioration of the situation.

To the
Human Rights Council

Remain
seized of the human rights situation in the Central African Republic and
consider a special session in case the situation deteriorates.

Consider
the report of the OHCHR fact-finding mission in CAR and consider establishing the
mandate of an Independent Expert to provide technical assistance to the
transitional government, monitor and report on the situation of human rights,
and report to the Council on human rights developments and challenges.

Encourage
the Human Rights Council Special Procedures to respond to the standing
invitation issued by the CAR minister of justice in June 2013 to visit CAR.

To the
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

(ICC)

Continue
to actively monitor developments in the Central African Republic to determine
whether crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction are being committed.

Remind
all parties of the ICC’s jurisdiction and, as appropriate, issue public
statements assessing the situation.

Press
national authorities to investigate and prosecute all persons against whom
there is evidence of criminal responsibility for grave crimes, including those
liable under command responsibility, in accordance with international fair
trial standards.

Monitor
any domestic efforts to prosecute these crimes to ensure that the trials are
fair, credible, and meet international standards.

Discuss
with national authorities international assistance that may be available to
assist accountability efforts and identify areas where ICC officials may have
practical expertise to share, such as conducting investigations of complex
crimes and ensuring witness protection.

To the
Governments of France, the European Union, the United States, and Other
International Donor

s

As
requested by the AU, give full support to the AU and ECCAS to facilitate the
implementation of AFISM-CAR’s mandate to protect civilians, including
through the provision of the necessary financial, logistical, and technical
support.

Incorporate
training on human rights protection in any security sector reform programs and
create vetting mechanisms to ensure that Seleka fighters who have committed
human rights abuses are not reintegrated into the national army or given other
official positions within the government.

Support
programs that protect, demobilize, and rehabilitate child soldiers.

Assist
national authorities in their efforts to restore the rule of law and to conduct
trials for grave crimes in accordance with international fair trial standards,
including by conducting an assessment of the domestic judicial system with the
view toward identifying possible areas of assistance.

Ensure
adequate humanitarian funding to restore education.

To the Government of Chad

Investigate
and publish findings into allegations of Chadian involvement with and/or
support to the Seleka. If evidence of Chadian involvement is discovered, ensure
this activity ceases immediately.

This report’s primary focus is on
abuses carried out before and after the Seleka took control of the CAR capital
Bangui on March 24, 2013. Most of the abuses documented occurred in Seleka-controlled
territory.

The cases presented in this report
represent just a small number of the human rights abuses that have taken place,
including the killing of civilians and destruction of property.

This report focuses on the capital Bangui
and the provinces of Kémo Gribingui, Nana Grébizi, and Ouham. It
does not document equally serious reports of human rights abuses reported in
the provinces of Ombella-Mpoko, Ouham Pendé, Nana-Mambéré,
Mambere-Kadei, Sangha Mbaere, Lobaye, Ouaka, Basse Kotto, and Mbomou. Human
Rights Watch has gathered evidence on abuses in some of these provinces, but
prioritized research on accessible provinces given the current security
situation.

To date, no organization, including BINUCA,
has advanced total figures of the numbers of civilians killed by the Seleka. On
the basis of its own research, Human Rights Watch estimates that at least
scores of people have been killed in Seleka-controlled territory. It has been
difficult to advance a more precise figure as no comprehensive or reliable
record has been made of these incidents, and Human Rights Watch was able to
document only a small proportion of reported killings and attacks on villages. Many
people who have been victims of or witnesses to Seleka abuse remain in hiding,
fearful of talking to outsiders, given the possibility of retribution by the
Seleka. Furthermore, the security situation in both Bangui and the provinces
has further limited the ability of Human Rights Watch to investigate all
credible reports.

The majority of killings and attacks on
villages documented by Human Rights Watch were carried out by the Seleka. Some
killings and attacks were carried out by members of the Mbarara community; however
these attacks were undertaken with Seleka support. Human Rights Watch’s
research focused on cases where the Seleka targeted civilians or those who were
unarmed. Cases that appeared to be common crimes or where there were no clear
indications of Seleka involvement are not included in this report.

Principal research for this report was
carried out in April, May, and June 2013. A Human Rights Watch researcher and a
consultant conducted interviews in the capital Bangui and the provinces of
Ombella-Mpoko, Kémo Gribingui, Nana Grébizi, Ouham, and Mbomou.
Human Rights Watch interviewed multiple sources for each case in order to
confirm and validate the reliability of testimony.

Human Rights Watch interviewed numerous
victims and eyewitnesses of targeted killings of civilians and attacks on
villages. Human Rights Watch also spoke with relatives and friends of victims,
journalists, members of civil society organizations and international
nongovernmental organizations, former members of the Bozizé government,
former parliamentarians, national and local Seleka officials, members of the
transitional government, judicial personnel, foreign diplomats, and United
Nations officials.

Additionally, Human Rights Watch
representatives met with senior government officials including Interim
President Michel Djotodia, Public Security Minister Noureddine Adam, (Former)
Water and Forests Minister Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, Justice Minister
Arsène Sende, and the National Prosecutor Alain Tolmo. Government
officials’ responses to cases and concerns raised by Human Rights Watch
are referenced in this report.

Because of the fear of reprisals, the names
of witnesses, family members and friends of victims who spoke to Human Rights
Watch have been withheld from this report. Interviews were conducted in French
or Sango with the assistance of interpreters.

The Seleka

The Seleka was created in late 2012. Its
main factions are the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), the
Patriotic Convention for the Salvation of Kodro (CPSK), the Union of Democratic
Forces for Unity (UFDR) and to a lesser extent the Union of Republican Forces
(UFR) and the Alliance for the Rebirth and Rebuilding (A2R).

Initially, the Seleka called for the
implementation of the recommendations of the Inclusive Political Dialogue (IPD)—held
in 2008 to create conditions for peaceful elections in 2010. At that time, the
Seleka was looking for: financial compensation for the rebels; the release of
political prisoners; and the opening of investigations into past crimes
including the disappearance of former CPJP leader Charles Massi.

The Libreville Agreement forged between the
Seleka and the Bozizé government in January 2013 aimed to provide a road
map for a political transition and ceasefire. In February 2013, Michel Djotodia
was named deputy prime minister and defense minister. The following month, both
sides resumed fighting, and the Seleka took Bangui in late March.

Union of Democratic Forces
for Unity (Union des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement, UFDR)

The UFDR is a rebel group created to
address marginalization of the Gula ethnic group in northeastern CAR. In 2006
the UFDR started taking control of strategic diamond-producing towns in
northeastern CAR and advancing on Bangui. At the time, Damane Zakaria was the
UFDR’s commander on the ground, while Michel Djotodia was active as one
of the group’s leaders. So serious was the UFDR offensive that French
troops had to step in to assist the Bozizé government in December 2006.
The UFDR signed a peace agreement in May 2007 with the CAR government and the
Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement in June 2008, after which it continued
to maintain influence over the diamond trade in the Haute-Kotto province. Its
ranks include men who helped overthrow former president
Ange-Félix Patassé
in 2003 and who felt they were never adequately compensated by
President Bozizé.

Convention of Patriots for Justice
and Peace (Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix, CPJP)

The CPJP is a rebel group created in 2008
based near Ndélé. It was created to protect ethnic Runga from
UFDR attacks of non-Gula tribes. The CPJP soon sought control of diamond mines
in the northeast. By 2010 it controlled mining territory around Bria in Haute-Kotto
province. In late 2010 it attacked Birao with the help of Chadian rebels and
briefly held the town. The CPJP signed a ceasefire with the government of CAR
on June 12, 2011, and a peace agreement on August 25, 2012. Two CPJP commanders,
Noureddine Adam and Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, opposed the peace deal. Dhaffane left
the CPJP in 2012 to start his own rebel group, the CPSK.

Patriotic Convention for the Salvation
of Kodro (Convention Patriotique du salut du Kodro, CPSK)

The CPSK was
founded in June 2012 by General Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, formally of the CPJP.
Dhaffane was arrested in Chad in 2009, but was released in December 2012. He
promptly re-joined the CPSK and the Seleka. He was appointed the minister of water
and forests but was accused by the transitional government of recruiting
mercenaries and buying weapons and was fired. He was arrested by the Seleka on
June 30. At the time of writing he was detained at the Camp de Roux, a
military camp occupied by the Seleka in Bangui.

Union of Republican Forces (Union
des Forces Républicaines, UFR)

The UFR is a
rebel group created by Colonel Florian N’Djadder, a former member of the
FACA. The UFR has long maintained a limited presence in CAR. It took advantage
of the political benefits offered by the Inclusive Political Dialogue and
signed the Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Bangui on December 15,
2008. It has a limited role in the Seleka.

Alliance for the Rebirth and Rebuilding
(Alliance pour la Renaissance et la Refondation, A2R)

The A2R was a loose underground movement
within the former FACA. It opposed the prominent position of ethnic Gbaya in
the army. It was formed in October 2012 by former army officers and sought
connections with the Seleka, from which it has distanced itself since the start
of hostilities.

The current attacks on civilians in the
Central African Republic should be understood in the broader context of the country’s
and region’s fractured political history.

Since independence from
France in 1960, almost every political transition in the Central African
Republic has been marred by political violence. Many politicians, candidates,
and combatants have used violence as a means of securing political power. Those
committing violence and abuse have rarely been brought to justice.

Rebellion Before 2012

Before 2012, the political landscape in CAR
was marked by the presence of multiple rebel groups and three main armed
opposition groups:

the Popular Army for the
Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (Armée populaire pour la
restauration de la république et la démocratie,
APRD

), the The Central African People’s Democratic Front (Front
démocratique du peuple centrafricain,
FDPC

), and the UFDR. While the APRD and FDPC were historically active in
the northwest of the country, bordering Chad and Cameroon, the UFDR was based
in the northeast, on the border with Sudan.

To resolve conflicts between these
opposition groups and the government, between 2007 and 2012, several peace
agreements, brokered by regional powers, were proffered and signed. The most
important agreement, the Global Peace Accord – signed in Libreville,
Gabon on June 21, 2008 – was first signed by the APRD and the UFDR. The
FDPC later signed an agreement in 2009. The CPJP signed a ceasefire with the
government of CAR on June 12, 2011, and a peace agreement on August 25, 2012.

Despite the signing of these agreements,
change in northern CAR did not come fast enough for those who felt they were
neglected in terms of development and assistance from Bangui. State security
and social services were almost totally absent in the north. While gross human
rights violations were reported to have diminished,

the failure of the state judiciary to hold perpetrators accountable
and the high probability that they would remain unpunished fostered resentment.
Although some progress was made in the disarmament, demobilization, and
reintegration (DDR) process in 2012 with APRD, UFR and FDPC combatants, the
lack of a national reintegration strategy and the prevailing security vacuum created
additional volatility.

The Seleka emerged in late 2012 into an
environment marked by the absence of state institutions, the presence of arms
and former members of armed groups, and porous national borders in an unstable
region.

Post 2012: The Seleka Coalition− Chadian
Influence

The government of Chadian President Idriss
Déby has played a role in CAR since the early 1990s. The Bozizé
government was installed with Chadian support in 2003. The Déby
government is believed to have been a sponsor and perpetrator of human rights
abuses against civilians in CAR’s north. In 2008, the Chadian Army, the Armée
Nationale Tchadienne,
launched numerous cross-border raids on villages in
this region, killing civilians, burning villages, and stealing cattle.

More recently, in early 2012, the Chadian Army shelled a
number of villages along the road between Ouandago and Batangafo, causing the
forced displacement of three villages.

In 2012, the CAR government began to lose
favor with the Chadian president. Reflecting this falling-out, Chadian members
of Bozizé’s presidential guard were called back to N’Djamena
in 2012. At the same time, the Chadian government released members of the Seleka
who were being held under surveillance in Chad, which freed them to join the
rebel coalition forming in CAR. Analysts see Chad’s shifting allegiances
in CAR as tied to the need to maintain control of the southern oil belt in
Chad, an area where local residents have historically opposed Déby.

Chadian armed rebel groups hostile to Déby,
such as the United Front for Change (Front uni pour le changement) or
elements of the former Chadian rebel leader Abdel Khader Baba Laddé of
the Popular Front for Redress (Front populaire pour le redressement), are
said to be using northern CAR as a rear base.

The Seleka coalition, primarily comprising
members of the CPJP, the UFDR, and the CPSK, is strongly suspected to include
Chadians who have aligned themselves with local rebels. In Bossangoa, Human
Rights Watch met with the highest-ranking Seleka official, Colonel Saleh
Zabadi. During the meeting, Human Rights Watch asked a young soldier, standing
close by, where he was from. The soldier quickly said, “I am from
Chad.” Zabadi corrected him and said, “No, he is from Kabo.”
Kabo is a town in northern CAR, 60 kilometers south of the Chadian border. The
soldier again reiterated, “No, I am from Chad.”

Zabadi again insisted the soldier was from Kabo. Human Rights Watch
spoke with other Seleka fighters who said they were Chadian.

The national origin of Seleka troops is a
source of friction in CAR. Most victims and witnesses with whom Human Rights
Watch spoke said they believed the majority of Seleka come from Chad or Sudan,
largely because most Seleka fighters do not seem to speak Sango, the most
widely used language in CAR. In virtually all accounts of attacks in Bangui and
the provinces, victims and witnesses said Seleka members were speaking in Arabic.
Human Rights Watch interviewed many Seleka fighters who were not able to
communicate with a Sango-speaking translator. (In these cases, interviews had
to be done in French with a Seleka commander or in basic Arabic). FOMAC troops
operating outside Bangui have confirmed to Human Rights Watch that Seleka
fighters in their zones are majority Chadian or Sudanese.

The Peuhl Communities

The
security situation in northern CAR is further complicated by long-standing
tensions over grazing rights, migration routes, and access to water sources
between local farming communities and pastoralist nomadic tribes from CAR,
Chad, and Sudan. These include members of the Peuhl cultural group, notably
the Mbororo, the Mbarara, and the Fulata, as they are known in CAR.

Generally,
the Mbororos are considered to come originally from CAR and Cameroon, while
the Mbararas are considered to be nomadic tribes from northern Chad. Both
tribes consider cattle to determine social status and individual identity.

During the
Bozizé government, armed bandits from CAR and Chad known as
“Zaraguinas” or coupeur de routes (road bandits) kidnapped
and assaulted members of the Mbororo and Mbarara communities. The Zaraguinas
also often targeted cattle of the nomadic Peuhl communities to sell back for
a ransom. As a result of this insecurity, some groups of Mbororo and Mbarara
armed themselves against the Zaraguinas.

In some
areas of northern CAR, the Mbarara have aligned themselves with the Seleka
and have participated in attacks on civilians.

When we hear a vehicle, we run into the bush.
—Resident of Zere, June 8, 2013

In June 2013, Human Rights Watch
investigated abuses carried out by the Seleka in the provinces of Kémo-Gribingui,
Nana Grébizi, and Ouham. Human Rights Watch confirmed that Seleka
elements killed scores of civilians who were trying to flee the attacks. Human
Rights Watch also documented the widespread and wanton burning of homes. In
some villages, every single structure was affected. The destruction was often
accompanied by the pillaging of goods, leaving civilian populations utterly
destitute.

While the majority of attacks outside of
Bangui occurred in villages, the larger towns were not spared. For example, as
Seleka forces made their way south in February, they attacked the town of Dekoa.
In that attack, four people were killed, eight people were seriously injured,
and over 230 homes were burned.

Most villages
in rural Central African Republic are situated on roads. As such, Seleka forces
and their allies were able to attack numerous villages in quick succession.
Villagers told Human Rights Watch that they were sometimes able to flee their
homes because they could hear shooting from the next village on the road.
However, many villagers had no choice but to stay in the area to continue
working their fields. In villages that were not destroyed, Human Rights Watch researchers
would enter in their vehicle and see residents fleeing into the bush.

When Human Rights Watch on June 9, 2013, entered
the village of Gbade – a village that had been abandoned, but not burned
– villagers slowly emerged, carrying machetes and homemade hunting rifles
as protection. A resident of Gbade told Human Rights Watch, “Now we only
come back for church service….We see nothing here to give us the
confidence to come back.”

Another villager from Bougone told Human
Rights Watch, “We are here, but… we are afraid. The Seleka still come
at night on the same road and we have to run again.”

Attacks on Villages on the
Batangafo-Bouca Road: April 10-14, 2013

Human Rights
Watch researched abuses by the Seleka and Mbarara that took place in April on the
road between Batangafo and Bouca. Between April 10 and April 14, the Seleka attacked
a string of villages between Gbadene and Banda along this road. The Seleka
began the attack and pillaging on Wednesday, April 10, while riding on
motorcycles along the main road; as they travelled, the Seleka shot at
residents and forced them to flee into the bush.

According to witnesses, the Seleka first
attacked the village of Gbadene, where over 100 homes were pillaged and burned.
They then attacked the village of Gbobafio; the entire village—roughly 40
homes—was pillaged and burned. On, Sunday April 14, armed Mbarara
returned on horseback and also burned houses in these villages.

While the motivation for these attacks is
not completely clear, villagers along this road said that they were triggered
by the killing of an Mbarara in the village of Kadi. One villager from Kadi
told Human Rights Watch:

The Mbarara … started breaking into
houses and pillaging. They were armed….They started shooting all over and a
villager killed one of them with his hunting rifle.

The next day, the Seleka returned and
attacked villages on both sides of Kadi. Human Rights Watch saw how the entire
village of 88 homes in Kadi itself was burned. Some residents of these villages
stayed behind to watch the events and identified Adoum Takaji, the
self-proclaimed mayor of Batangafo, as coordinating the attacks.

One witness told Human Rights Watch:

The Seleka were numerous.… Takaji gave the orders.
The Seleka were shooting all over… but they did not burn the houses. It
was on Sunday the 14th that the Mbarara came and burned the village. They came
on horseback.… Before Takaji was the mayor he was a delegate for the [herders]… He used to come here for meetings so
we know him.

In Sirkadi, Human Rights Watch again found
the entire village—52 homes along with a church—burned. A witness
told Human Rights Watch:

We started hearing shots on that day in
the other villages … the Seleka came on motorcycles…. Takaji was with
them. Nobody was killed here [because we heard the shots] … the Seleka
took all the goats. [Then on Sunday the 14th] the Mbarara came on horses [to
burn the village], there was maybe 100 of them. They were shooting in the air.

The Seleka, followed later by the Mbarara,
destroyed the small village of Katanga—12 homes— before attacking and
destroying the entire village of Bogoro—72 homes. One resident of Bogoro
told Human Rights Watch:

When the
Mbarara came we ran away. They came shooting. Now we are living [in another
village], but there are others living in the bush near their fields….The
Mbarara tried to burn the roof of the school, [but it was difficult so] instead
they just burned all the books. The school was for the villages of Bogoro,
Katanga, Sirkadi, Kadi, Gbobafio, and Banda. It is a primary school.

The Seleka continued to Banda and destroyed
the entire village of 10 homes.

All of the residents with whom Human Rights
Watch spoke from these locations were living in the bush outside of their
villages. As one villager told Human Rights Watch:

They took our goats and our seeds. We are
living in the bush and we are hungry. Without security we cannot come back to
the village … we cannot come back with the Seleka armed.

Attacks on the
Kaga-Bandoro-Mbrès Road: April 14-15, 2013

Seleka forces based in Kaga-Bandoro and
Mbrès on April 14-15 carried out a string of attacks on the villages of Nguimale,
Maorka, Ndanika, Yangoussou, and Zaire, which are located between the two bases.
The attacks, Human Rights Watch research shows, were carried out by Seleka forces
to retaliate against the killing of one of their own fighters by a group of
villagers in Yangoussou, a large village on this road with over 100 homes. The
Seleka fighter, residents of Yangoussou said, threatened them. After he shot a
villager in the face, the population retaliated and killed him. Seleka forces
stationed in nearby Kaga-Bandoro and Mbrès soon learned of the incident.

Seleka forces from Mbrès then moved
on motorbikes up the road and stopped in Nguimale. They entered the town firing
their weapons and killed two residents. As one resident told Human Rights
Watch, “They shot one woman who was in her kitchen.”

The remaining villagers ran into the surrounding bush. The Seleka
then burned 27 homes in this village.

Leaving Nguimale, the Seleka moved down the
road to Maorka. Villagers told Human Rights Watch that they could hear the
shots coming from Nguimale and thus were ready to flee. As one villager told
Human Rights Watch:

[When] they entered the village …
they started shooting, after they started to burn the first house we ran into
the bush. They were burning houses they thought had people in them or if they
saw people near them.

Before burning the homes, the Seleka would
loot anything of value; anything deemed worthless was burned. The villagers,
distraught at seeing their possessions stolen or burnt, watched from afar. As
one witness told Human Rights Watch:

We men would run into the bush, but then
we come back to watch. They burned everything, our mattresses, our beds, our
mats. They took our peanuts, our seeds, our manioc, our goats and our chickens.
They took everything but the pigs.

Human Rights Watch counted 38 houses burned
by the Seleka at Maorka.

The Seleka then attacked the village of
Ndanika. According to witnesses, Seleka forces burned houses there before
moving on to Yangoussou. On Monday, April 15th, the Seleka returned to Ndanika
to burn the rest of that village. As in other villages, the residents were
prepared for an attack. As one resident told Human Rights Watch, “They
came with two 4×4 vehicles and they started to burn houses again.”

From Ndanika, the Seleka elements moved
down to Yangoussou. A resident told Human Rights Watch:

When they came into the village they were
shooting in the air to make people flee. If they saw someone they shot at them
and then they pillaged and burned the houses. We had to take our women,
children, and elderly into the bush. My house was burned. They burned our bed,
mattresses, my bike, two radios, and our peanut stock.

From Yangoussou the Seleka attacked Zaire,
the last village before Mbrès. Villagers from Zaire said that they had
already fled, so the Seleka burned their homes.

Attacks
on Villages on the Bouca-Bossangoa Road: April 18, 2013

According to villagers, on April 18, 2013,
Seleka elements arrived in the villages of Boubou and Zere from the direction
of Bossangoa. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch the Seleka travelled this road
in a 4×4 vehicle and indiscriminately shot at civilians as they entered the villages.

Living and Dying in the Bush

Send troops here so we do not have to live in the bush! Come quickly so
we can live in the village because we sleep in the forest like animals!


Resident of Boubou, June 8, 2013

Villagers who had been forced to abandon their homes
told Human Rights Watch of extremely difficult living conditions in the bush.
As of June 2013, humanitarian agencies such as the International Committee of
the Red Cross were able to give only very limited support to some affected
areas. For example, in some regions, villagers said they had received plastic
tarp sheeting to protect them from the elements. However, in other regions
villagers are living with no support.

Villagers
told Human Rights Watch of whole communities that had fled the Seleka. A
village authority from Maorka told Human Rights Watch, “The majority of
the villagers are still in the bush. There are 113 families living in the
forest, only a handful have come back.”

In
multiple communities, Human Rights Watch heard accounts of extremely
difficult living conditions. One resident from Maorka told Human Rights
Watch:

Now I sleep in the fields. I made a small hut out of leaves for my wife
and our three children. I cannot come back because we do not have beds or our
food stock and there is no security. [The Seleka] took all of our farming
tools, they took our hoes. We have to use our hands.

The
abandonment of these communities has meant that health services have stopped,
since clinics in affected villages are either destroyed or closed. In a
country with some of the lowest health indicators in the world, this has
exacerbated a situation already teetering on the verge of a crisis.

Access to education is also affected, due to the destruction
of schools, the looting of education materials, and the displacement of
teachers and students. Human Rights Watch spoke with the headmaster of a
school that serves four villages with a total of 449 students. He said,
“All of the materials were pillaged. Most of the students are now
hiding in the bush. Two of our four teachers are hiding.”

Human
Rights Watch was given credible information on numbers of people who have
died in the bush since the Seleka forced them to abandon their villages. For example,
23 people from six villages (Nguimale, Maorka, Ndanika, Yangoussou, Maraomba
and Zaire) have died in the bush. In the villages of Bogoro, Katanga, Sirkadi,
Kadi, Gbobafio, and Banda—attacked between April 10 and 14, 2013,
villagers have told Human Rights Watch that 15 people, including many
children, have died since fleeing the village. They are dying from illness,
hunger, and exposure to the elements.

One
villager from Ndanika told Human Rights Watch that when the Seleka came,
“I was with my dad who was sick, we had him hidden behind the
house….[We had to flee].…My father died in the bush.”

Residents
of Yangoussou told Human Rights Watch:

Two children from the village are sick. They are with us in the bush.
They have constant pain in the head and legs. They were injured fleeing the
attack on the village.

The
rains, while important for a harvest, are only compounding the difficulty of
living with no protection. As one villager from Zere told Human Rights Watch,
“Some people have started to come back to the village because the rains
are coming, but most people are still out in the bush.”

A villager of Boubou told Human Rights
Watch, “They just shot at people, they did not pillage.”

The Seleka killed two men
in Boubou as they were trying to flee and they then chased people on a forest
path out of the village.

They burned 53 houses.

The same Seleka elements then moved to Zere
where, according to a witness:

They came in a vehicle and starting
shooting and broke in the doors and pillaged all the houses in the village.
Then they burned some of them…. They were shooting at everyone.”

The Seleka executed a captured resident of
Zere and burned 46 homes.

Attack
of Ouin: May 1, 2013

In late April and early May 2013, Seleka
forces carried out a string of attacks on a road leading west out of Batangafo
toward Kambakota. One horrific attack took place in the village of Ouin on May
1. Multiple witnesses in different villages along this route confirmed that Seleka
forces carried out the attacks with the participation of the self-proclaimed
mayor of Batangafo, Adoum Takaji. Members of the Mbarara community also
attacked villages outside Batangafo around this time, according to witnesses.

In Ouin, the Seleka summarily executed five
residents; five more were killed while trying to flee. Eyewitness testimony
indicates that the attack of Ouin was linked to an incident that took place in
late April in the village of Kolo, located a few kilometers from Ouin. On that
day, villagers reported that several Mbarara had tried to steal a cow belonging
to a resident of Kolo. There was an altercation, and an Mbarara was killed. In
revenge, the Mbarara attacked Kolo and the nearby village of Baraka, killing
one individual there. The Mbarara burned houses in both villages. Residents from
Kolo and Baraka then fled to Ouin, the largest village in the surrounding area.

Seleka forces, self-appointed Mayor Takaji,
and men described as members of Batangafo’s Muslim community arrived in
Ouin on May 1. The villagers were fearful. Takaji tried to reassure the villagers
in order to make them come out of their homes. As one resident told Human Rights
Watch:

Mayor Takaji went door to door in the
village to ask people to leave their homes and come to a meeting to talk with the
Seleka. The first few left their homes, five of them, and were grouped under a
tree … their arms were attached to each other. They were then shot down
one by one. Takaji was only 50 meters away.

Multiple witnesses told Human Rights Watch
that one individual did not die straight away and the Seleka cut his throat.

Another witness told Human Rights Watch,
“The mayor was not armed, but he took people out to be killed.”

Residents told Human Rights Watch that after the execution:

The Seleka shot at all the houses. They
killed five more people in the neighborhoods. The entire village ran away when
the shooting started.

Some
residents returned to the village later to bury their dead. However, the Seleka
also returned and started to fire on the villagers again. As one resident told
Human Rights Watch:

We were burying our own dead and they
started to shoot at us again; we all fled back into the bush…. I can
still smell the dead.

In research carried out in June 2013, Human
Rights Watch found Ouin completely abandoned. After eventually emerging from
the bush, residents of Ouin showed Human Rights Watch the fresh graves of the
10 killed individuals. Residents confirmed to Human Rights Watch that they were
now living in the surrounding forest. One resident told Human Rights Watch,
“The populations of Bakara, Kolo and Ouin are all living in the bush.
There are many of us there, many.”

Human Rights Watch met with Adoum Takaji
who admitted that “there are still Seleka troops that are not
controlled” and that “the Mbarara have profited with the presence
of the Seleka.” He also confirmed that he had “volunteered”
to be the mayor, but that his authority was recognized in Bangui by the Seleka chef
d’antenne

and spokesperson, Issa Amat,
and that he was “with the head of the Seleka [in Batangafo] every
day.” However, he denies being in Ouin on the day of the attacks.
Instead, he claims he went there days later:

When I went the village was totally empty.
I hear that 11 people were killed there. Since these events I have tried to
reassure the population but they are scared. We want them to come back to the
village and re-start their lives. I have tried to explain that the Seleka are
here to reassure their security.

Attacks
on Villages on the Bossangoa–Boguila Road: May 19, 2013

On May 19, 2013, Seleka elements based in
Boguila attacked villages along the road leading to Bossangoa. Numerous
credible reports indicate that they first burned over 150 homes in Gbaduma before
moving down the road to Bodoro.

In Bodoro, four Seleka vehicles entered the
village. According to a witness, as the Seleka arrived, “They started
shooting at the people. They gave no warning, they did not say anything. Five
people were killed here and three people were injured.”

The Seleka moved down the road to the
village of Bougone, where, according to a witness:

They did not announce anything, they just started shooting
at the village….They were aiming at the young men. After we fled they
pillaged the village house by house. They took everything….They stayed here
maybe 40 minutes. In that time they pillaged the entire village. When they
shoot, we run, but we could hear them from the bush

Three men were killed in Bougone. According
to witnesses, the men were shot while trying to flee. The Seleka then moved on
to Gbade:

The Seleka started shooting in the village as the people
were fleeing… people were killed while running away. Then they pillaged
all the houses. They went house by house.

Four people were killed in Gbade while
trying to flee the Seleka, according to witnesses.

In Bossangoa, Human Rights Watch spoke to
Seleka Col. Saleh Zabadi and his executive secretary, Sacrifier-Boris
Yamassamba. The villages of Boubou, Zere, Gbaduma, Bodoro, Bougone, and Gbade
fall under Zabadi’s responsibility. Zabadi told Human Rights Watch:

There were no villages burned here….
I don’t know about these killings in the villages. Our territory is calm. There are no problems…. I
was on the roads two or three weeks ago to Boguila, it was fine.

Zabadi and Yamassamba reiterated to Human
Rights Watch that any movement on the road between Boguila and Bossongoa must
have their prior knowledge and approval. Yamassamba, told Human Rights Watch:
“The villagers are happy to see us. They see us as liberators. They come
and wave to us and are happy.”

Attacks
on Villages on the Batangafo—Bouca Road: June 2, 2013

Human Rights Watch researched attacks on
civilians and destruction of villages that took place in June 2013 on the Batangafo–Bouca
road. Human Rights Watch documented the destruction of the entire village of
Yangoumara, including the village church, but was not able to find any
inhabitants of the village. However, in the next village, Gbi-Gbi, where 34
homes were burned along with the village church, Human Rights Watch was able to
speak with some villagers. According to these witnesses, the Seleka had
attacked Yangoumara and Gbi-Gbi on Sunday, June 2. The witnesses told Human
Rights Watch that members of the Seleka were coming from Bouca on their way to Yangoumara,
but: “[T]hey stopped here at Gbi-Gbi and killed a woman….They shot
her when she was fleeing. They shot her in her side. There were eight Seleka
total.”

Witness
testimony points to these attacks being carried out as revenge on communities
after a villager killed a Seleka fighter who was trying to steal a cow in
Yangoumara. At the time of writing, the population of the villages of Gbi-Gbi
and Yangoumara were still living in the bush.

Human Rights
Watch met with Jean-Michel Bangui, the executive secretary of Colonel Bashir
Muhammad, who is the highest-ranking member of the Seleka in Bouca. Bangui
candidly told Human Rights Watch, regarding Yangoumara and Gbi-Gbi: “We
burned those villages. That was us, the Seleka.”

He claimed that certain Seleka
soldiers were “children” and that they were angry after a villager
shot their captain, so they acted in revenge. He said:

These children decided to do this. I do
not know which one. No order was given. But the children got upset because the captain was shot, they were nervous so they shot.

Human Rights Watch interviewed Bangui in
the presence of Seleka troops, who appeared to be very young and possibly child
soldiers in the age range of 13-15. Later in the interview, Bangui said that
the houses had been burned by bullets touching the straw roofs; the houses, he
said, had not been burned intentionally. When asked by Human Rights Watch what
actions he was taking as a local administrator to reassure the safety of local
residents, Bangui insisted that the priority was to catch the villager who had
shot the Seleka in Yangoumara: “People are living in the bush. We are
trying to call the people back to the villages. But now we need to know who the
real criminal in this affair is; who the shooter is.”

Local Seleka Authorities

I am the law.

−Jean-Michel Bangui, executive secretary of Col. Bashir Muhammad,
Bouca, June 8, 2013

Outside
Bangui it is difficult to establish lines of command within the Seleka. Most
Seleka officials whom Human Rights Watch interviewed said that if problems
pre-dated their arrival, they were because of a former commander. For
example, in Bossangoa, Col. Saleh Zabadi—the highest ranking Seleka officialinthe region—told Human Rights Watch:

[The villagers] had run into the bush when Colonel Abdulim was here. I
do not know his first name … [but] I have no problems here.

Other
authorities control their regions with complete impunity. Jean-Michel Bangui,
the executive secretary of Bouca (see above) was open with Human Rights Watch
about how he interprets his authority. He told Human Rights Watch:

Let me tell you something. There is no law now. You know that the
international community has recognized that the president is ruling by
decree…. After 18 months there will be a law. I am an army official
now, I have that authority.

Bangui
told Human Rights Watch that he was the police, prosecutor, and judge when it
came to crime prevention in Bouca:

I conduct the investigations, arrest people, and put them in detention.
And I will make a decision on the duration of their detention…. After
the investigation we will know who is who and who did what.

When
Human Rights Watch questioned Bangui as to investigative methods, he replied,
“We torture them so they can tell the truth.”

Bangui insisted that he
had studied law and was qualified to fill this role in Bouca.

Bangui
allowed Human Rights Watch to visit three prisoners that he was holding in an
office of the sub-district headquarters. Human Rights Watch found three men
in a room sitting in their own urine and faeces. The men seemed afraid and
appeared to have been beaten; one had a swollen face and a bloody right eye.
Bangui said they were local thieves.

Human Rights Watch met Noureddine Adam, minister
of public security, who denied the Seleka had played any role in the attacks
documented in the provinces. However, he did concede that the situation was complex:

[In] the provinces, there are a lot of
groups operating there. The Fulata, the Mbororos, they come from Sudan, Chad,
CAR. We try to resolve the disputes.

In response to witness accounts presented
by Human Rights Watch on the attack of the village of Yangoumara, Adam said,
“These are related to the disputes between Muslims and Christians in the
area. The Muslims are those who are setting fire, burning the villages.”

In response to evidence of attacks on villages on the road
between Kaga-Bandoro and Mbrès, Adam told Human Rights Watch, “The
Mbororos, the Peuhls, are responsible for these attacks in this area.”

In response to allegations of human rights
abuses, Adam denied any Seleka involvement saying that the only problem was the
lack of funds to train the Seleka to respect human rights, “We will
respect human rights when we have the means.”

Throughout April, May, and June 2013, Human
Rights Watch investigated abuses that Seleka forces carried out in Bangui after
they took power. The following accounts are representative of patterns of
abuses that Human Rights Watch was able to corroborate.

Attack on Damala –
March 27, 2013

On March 27, three days after the coup,
Seleka soldiers killed 17 people in the neighborhood of Damala near the Bangui
International Airport. The attack began when four Seleka soldiers entered the
neighborhood and assaulted a local official with the aim of stealing a large
truck. This official told Human Rights Watch:

I [tried] to explain to them that the vehicle helped us
because it allows us to transport people to the hospital. They were Chadians,
but one of them spoke some Sango. [But] they pulled me out of my house and they
started to beat me with their guns. They told me to give them the key to the
vehicle. I said, “I do not have it.” They pushed and beat me to the
truck; by this point my arm was broken. They got me to the truck and they
started to pillage shops that were nearby. They made me sit on the ground.

Local youth from the neighborhood were
watching these events unfold. One youth who was later shot by the Seleka told
Human Rights Watch:

I saw members of the Seleka beating the local chief.
They were beating him with their guns and with their belts. We followed them
from a distance to the truck. The Seleka were speaking and yelling in Arabic.

Young men in Damala, seeing a local
authority beaten in this fashion, started to throw stones. According to one
victim:

[The youth started] throwing rocks and it made the Seleka
very angry; they started shooting their guns in the air and then they shot at
the people. People started to run away … at this moment one of the Seleka
turned and shot me. He did not say anything. I had nothing in my hands. When he
shot me I had my hands up.

The victim was shot in the abdomen and
still suffers as a result of his injury. After firing on the population, the
four Seleka started to move into the Damala neighborhood, but they soon ran out
of ammunition and were attacked by area residents. As a witness told Human
Rights Watch, “[One of the] Seleka ran out of bullets and the youth got
him with stones. They killed him. The other Seleka had [left] for
reinforcements.”

When members of the Seleka returned, they exacted
revenge on the residents of Damala. A witness told Human Rights Watch:

The Seleka reinforcements came in one
vehicle, a 4×4, with 12 Seleka on it. They had a big gun on it that one man
used; he stayed on the vehicle shooting. Others were chasing people in the
neighborhood.

Because of the confusion created by the
initial shooting, it is difficult to ascertain how many people the four Seleka
soldiers killed at the Damala market, but Human Rights Watch received reports
of 17 people killed in the neighborhood that day by the Seleka.

Rodrigue Gbenerio was one victim. He had a business
charging cell phones near the market in Damala. Witnesses say he was the first
person whom the Seleka killed when they started firing. A witness told Human
Rights Watch: “[When the] youth … started to throw rocks, the
Seleka started shooting. They killed Rodrigue right away.”

Another witness said: “Rodrigue was killed where he had his kiosk.”

Raphael
Bingilego was killed outside his home by the Seleka on March 27, 2013. A family
member told Human Rights Watch: “I was in my house and there were many
people outside trying to understand what was happening. Then [the] Seleka
arrived shooting. Everyone ran from the front of the house and I got down.
[Raphael] ran around [the outside] of the house. When the Seleka left we went
outside and I found him. He had been shot in the back; the bullet went out his
chest. He was lying face down. He was already dead.”

Ludociv
Hehine was in his home that same day when the Seleka broke open the door and
killed him. A family member of Hehine told Human Rights Watch that when the
Seleka approached his home, his “mother and father hid in the kitchen and
Ludociv and I stayed in the salon with his daughter. We had the door closed,
but the Seleka had seen people running [near] our house. The Seleka came and
shot open the door. They were two: one Seleka came in and the other one waited
outside. He came and shot everywhere in the salon. Ludociv got down near the
table and I fell behind a chair. Ludociv put up his hands. The Seleka fighter cried out
and shot him twice in the chest and then left.”

Attack on Walingba–April
12, 2013

On April 12, a Seleka rocket propelled
grenade (RPG) injured 15 people in the Walingba neighborhood. 13 children were among
the injured, two of whom required amputations. An eyewitness said:

It was about 4:30 p.m., I was standing by
my house in front of the soccer field where the children were playing. We heard
a loud explosion. There was a lot of dust everywhere. When the dust settled, I
rushed to the scene and saw the bodies of the children injured. The Red Cross
ambulance arrived fifteen minutes later and took the wounded to the hospital.
We found the point of impact which was around 50 cm in diameter….These
children live here in the neighborhood.

The Seleka had been in control of Bangui
since March 24 when this attack occurred and despite Human Rights Watch
inquiries we received no reports of anyone but Seleka moving with RPGs.

Killings at the
Ngaragba Bridge – April 13, 2013

On April 13, Seleka forces killed at least
18 unarmed civilians in the area surrounding the Ngaragba Bridge near the
Ouango and Kassai neighborhoods in Bangui.
According to eyewitnesses, Seleka elements drove their vehicle onto the bridge and
hit a funeral procession walking toward the local cemetery. Enraged, civilians
from the procession began to throw stones at the Seleka fighters. Within
minutes, additional Seleka forces arrived. They shot what witnesses said was a
rocket-propelled grenade into the crowd and began shooting indiscriminately at
civilians who were trying to flee the area and run to their homes in the
direction of the Ouango neighbourhood. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that
they saw Seleka forces kill a priest on the bridge who was appealing for calm.
One witness told Human Rights Watch:

The priest walked toward the Seleka elements …
raising a Bible in his hand and calling [them] to stop shooting. Three Seleka
fighters stepped out of the pick-up, walked toward him and shot him dead.

Another witness told Human Rights Watch:

After the Seleka convoy started shooting
at the crowd, a woman with a baby on her back was on the street past the
bridge, when she was shot by a Seleka fighter and left dead in the street with
the baby crying on her back.

Another eyewitness described the attack on
the bridge to Human Rights Watch:

After the coffin was hit and the priest was killed at the
bridge, people were terrified. They ran in all directions to escape. The Seleka
called for reinforcements from Camp de Roux. The Seleka fighters loaded a
rocket in their RPG [and] they pulled into the crowd and shot a rocket at the
bridge. There were many people injured. The Seleka started chasing at people
who fled. There were lots of dead bodies on the road and many wounded.

The Attack on Boy-Rabe
– April 13 and 14

On the weekend of April 13 and 14, Seleka
forces carried out an organized attack on the neighborhood of Boy-Rabe in
Bangui. A local authority described to Human Rights Watch how the Seleka
started the attack:

15 vehicles entered Boy-Rabe. The first vehicle had an
officer on board. They went to the market. He asked who I was and I said I was
[a local official]. He said, “We have heard that Bozizé
distributed arms in Boy-Rabe to fight the Seleka.” I said, “Please,
come out and see if there is one weapon in the hands of the youth here.”
[But they] just wanted to pillage. They had their vehicles ready to take
people’s property. Then they started shooting. They went into the
neighborhood and shot at people.

Another witness told Human Rights Watch:

I saw them shooting their guns at us, at the people. This
is the technique of the Seleka, to come in and to pillage. If there are people
there they will not hesitate to shoot to make people leave. Sometimes they kill
people, sometimes not. Leaving the neighborhood, the people resisted and members of the
Seleka shot at the crowd. They take over Bangui and only a few days later they
come to do this. It is not correct.

Minister of Public Security and Seleka General
Noureddine Adam told Human Rights Watch that the Seleka operations in Boy-Rabe
in mid-April were “organized disarmament operations.”

The former minister of water
and forests and former Seleka general, Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, told Human
Rights Watch that, “[It was a priority] to disarm Boy-Rabe. Boy-Rabe is a
neighborhood of 60 percent of families of elements of the Presidential Guard.
They are all there.”

However, residents of
Boy-Rabe said:

This [was] not disarmament….They did
not come to disarm. They came to pillage. There are no soldiers left in the
quarter. If this had been a real disarmament they should have called the FACA
and had them bring their arms.

Human Rights Watch has uncovered dozens of
killings in Boy-Rabe of unarmed civilians through the weekend of April 13 and
14, 2013, and into the following week. The stories of a few victims follow.

The Killing of Simon Assana

Simon Assana was a resident of Boy-Rabe. The Seleka
executed him at his home on April 14, 2013. Assana was trying to protect
people fleeing the fighting. A witness in a nearby house described his
killing:

Members of the Seleka [were] coming down the road ahead of the house
[and] three women ran across the street. They are not from [Boy-Rabe], I
think they were fleeing the fighting from [another neighborhood]. The Seleka
saw the women running across the street.
Simon was on his terrace and he yelled to them
“Come here! Come here!” They ran into his compound, he opened the
door and they ran into his house.
The Seleka members on the road saw this. They pulled up to his
house and got out. There were two Seleka on foot. One stayed in the
truck….They followed the women, they were running after them.
Simon was outside his house on the veranda. There is a
small route between our compounds, so I could see everything.
The Seleka members said to him, “Where are the people who
passed here?” Simon said, “Nobody is here.”
The Seleka wanted to go into the house. They started to
climb the stairs so he closed the door behind him. Simon said, “It is
only my children there in the house.” He blocked the door.
One of the Seleka said, “Give me your money.”
Simon said, “I don’t have any money.…The Seleka soldier said,
“Give me your phone”. Simon touched his body to show he had
nothing. He said, “I have no telephone. I have no money”.
The Seleka soldier walked down the steps of the veranda. He
looked at Simon and he shot him twice in the stomach. He was about four or five
feet away from Simon. He held his rifle by his side when he shot. The Seleka soldier
went back to the truck.

Simon fell down on the ground. I heard the truck leave and
I ran out of my house. The three women in the house came out. Two young men
from the neighborhood also saw it. They also came over. We lifted Simon and
brought him into the house. He was trying to speak, but he could not. We put
him on the floor. I had my hand on his chest and he stopped breathing about
five minutes later.

The Killing of Tiburce-Jefferson Yankioisse

The Seleka killed Tiburce-Jefferson
Yankioisse in Boy-Rabe on April 14. Witnesses described how he was at his
home with his brothers when the shooting started. One witness told Human
Rights Watch:

It was raining bullets and they felt like they had to
flee. They were between houses. [Tiburce] waited a moment in the shooting and
he tried to run across the road, the three of them were trying to save their
own lives. He got hit in the head as he crossed.

An individual close to Yankioisse told
Human Rights Watch that when he saw members of the Seleka shooting in the market he had
called Yankioisse and told him to stay at home, “I asked [him] to stay
inside. Around 11 a.m. my pastor called to say that [Yankioisse] had been
killed.”

He was 25 years old.

The Killing of Sandrine Poumengakola and Her Daughter “Bebe
Darine”

During the attack on Boy-Rabe, the Seleka
also looked for trucks in order to transport stolen goods. On Monday April
15, members of the Seleka searched for the driver of a truck who lives in the
neighborhood. In the process, they killed the driver’s wife and his
baby daughter. A witness to the killing told Human Rights Watch:

There was shooting
[all around, but then] there were shots in the air to summon [the driver] at
his home. They waited a moment and then they started to shoot at the house.
The Seleka were shouting, “Come out!” but they were shooting so
[the driver] could not. They stopped shooting and [Sandrine] approached the
door. [As she approached] they kicked it down and shot her. The baby was in
her arms and it was hit in the head, [Sandrine] was then hit in the head and
in the chest.

Three Seleka members entered the house and two stayed outside.
[The driver] had fallen down so [he] got up and they threw [him] back down on
the ground. They kicked [him] in the head and chest and they used their guns
on [him]. They asked [him], “Where is the truck?”
They took [him] outside and [forced him] to take them to
the truck. When they got outside one of the Seleka members said to another,
“The baby’s head exploded and the wife was shot dead.” They
started walking. It is three kilometers. They were shooting into the air [to
make him move faster].
When they reached the truck they said, “If you
can’t start the truck we will kill you.”
By the time [he] returned home, the bodies of his wife
and daughter had been transported to the morgue

Poumengakola was 26 years old; her
daughter was 18 months old.

On Sunday
April 14, an RPG hit the Cit
é
Jean XXIII Church, located in
Boy-Rabe. The attack injured 13 people, including three children who were
maimed. According to the victims and witnesses interviewed by Human Rights
Watch, the RPG hit the church at about 10 a.m. while the choir was singing. The
grandmother of an 8-year-old boy told Human Rights Watch:

All the faithful were praying and singing
when the rocket pierced the corrugated iron roof. [My grandson] was seriously
injured. He had two broken legs, which were later amputated at the hospital.
The Red Cross arrived a few minutes after the attack and carried the wounded to
the hospitals in Bangui. Besides [my grandson], there were two other boys, one
was 5 and the other was 4 years old. Both of them were also injured and had
their limbs amputated. They live across our house in Boy-Rabe. The three boys
were sitting on the bench in the second row of the church.

Human Rights Watch was told by Noureddine
Adam, the minister of public security, that the numbers killed since the coup
have been exaggerated saying, “The total of people killed after the coup
is very low. Only 10 people were killed [total], only 1 person was killed in
Damala.”

Summary Executions at the Mpoko River

On April 15,
2013, Seleka forces stopped nine male residents of the Boy-Rabe and Fouh
neighborhoods and forced them into a pick-up truck. The men had spent the
weekend outside Boy-Rabe due to violence there; they had heard the Seleka forces were
targeting young males.

They walked back to their homes in a group
for protection, but were captured by a Seleka patrol early in the morning. One
survivor told Human Rights Watch that once they were in the truck:

They [the
Seleka] searched us and took our telephones and our money. Then they started to
stab us with knives and hit us with their guns. They hit me in the foot with a
small axe. They were insulting us saying we were ill bred while also saying
“You killed us at Boy-Rabe,”

(a reference to the killing of Seleka
members on April 14-15 by Boy-Rabe residents throwing stones).

Another survivor told Human Rights Watch,
“The Seleka yelled, ‘You are the Gbaya and you are FACA.’”(Gbaya refers to the same ethnic group of ousted president
François Bozizé). As one survivor told
Human Rights Watch:

They had made us lie down on our stomachs
and they did not know what they were stabbing. They were happy and were saying,
“Ha! You are military and we have you!” When we cried out they
stabbed us more.

All of the survivors interviewed presented
Human Rights Watch with fresh stab wounds that they said were from this
incident.

A survivor said the men were driven through
Bangui and at one point, when the pick-up stopped, overheard a conversation
between the Seleka members in their truck and a presumed commander on the road. The
Seleka members told the presumed commander, “Here are the youth of Boy-Rabe who
killed us. We brought them.” The commander said, “Is it really
them?” When he was told yes, the commander said, “Take them to the
Mbaiki road and do what you want.”

The survivors said that they were lying in
the truck face down. People from the general population began to approach the
truck and ask what was happening. They heard the commander say, “They are
FACA. You will have to find their bodies.”

One survivor told Human Rights Watch that
after he heard that, “I saw that I had no chance to escape, all I could
do was pray.”

The men were driven to the Mpoko River
southwest of Bangui, below the neighborhood of Bimbo. There they were forced by
the Seleka to leave the truck and were marched to the river’s edge. One
survivor told Human Rights Watch:

The put us in a line and told us to follow
a trail. They insulted some of us. They took us to a place on the river that
was a type of camp. They were saying, “FACA, Gbaya, it is finished for
you. We have caught you!” At the spot they said, “Make a column one
by one!”

One survivor told Human Rights Watch,
“At the river we stayed together as small groups and we said to each
other, ‘At least we will die together.’”

After arranging the men in a line, the
Seleka shot five of them one by one. Their bodies fell into the water. One of
the four survivors told Human Rights Watch, “When they were being shot I
knew that it was over for me.”

The four survivors said they believed they
were spared by a “Central African” Seleka member, one from the
southern part of the country, distinct from the northerners, many of them
Muslim, who dominate the Seleka. One survivor told Human Rights Watch:

[Suddenly] the Central African came and said, ‘Go
back’. Then we were taken back to the truck and he talked with the
Muslims, it was as if he had found his spirit. He said to us that we had been
arrested for nothing. We went back to the truck, we were crying for the five
killed.

The four survivors were eventually released
and are seeking medical attention for their stab wounds. All of the survivors
claimed not to have been FACA.

Targeting of FACA

Human Rights Watch received credible
information concerning the deliberate targeting of members of the FACA. These
attacks began shortly after the March coup and continued through June,
according to credible reports obtained by Human Rights Watch.

Delmass Konama was a military driver for
the FACA before the fall of Bangui. After the coup he was forced to work as a
driver for the Seleka, and he made at least one trip to Chad for them. On the
evening of April 13, Seleka forces arrived at his house shouting in Arabic,
“Give us your money, guns and uniforms!”

Konama was able to flee,
but the Seleka entered his home. A witness in the house told Human Rights
Watch:

I went out into the lounge and they hit me
in the head with a rifle. I started bleeding into my eyes. They said to me,
“Where is [he]?” They meant Delmass by that. I said, “I
don’t know where he is”. They then checked the house. They asked,
“Where are the guns?”

The Seleka looted the house but found no weapons or uniforms. As
they left they told Konama’s children, “We have not come to kill
you, we have come to kill your papa.”

The Seleka captured Konama the next day
near the Kilo 5 neighborhood, approximately five kilometers northwest of
Bangui. A witness told Human Rights Watch:

I saw him with my own eyes when he was
sitting in the Seleka pick-up. They had already started beating him. He was
crying

The Red Cross found Konama’s body
later that day. He had been shot repeatedly.

Witnesses also told Human Rights Watch of the
execution of FACA Corporal St. Clair Mamadou in Bangui. A week before his death,
Mamadou told people close to him that the Seleka were looking for him. He
claimed not to know why, but he speculated it could be because he had been
involved in the fighting against the Seleka. On April 17, a man Mamadou knew
asked him to meet, but when Mamadou arrived at the appointed destination,
Seleka forces took him.

People close to Mamadou visited police
stations in the capital to try to find him. After searching for hours, they
heard that villagers had found corpses outside Bangui at the Sceaux Bridge, in
an area known as PK 15. An individual close to Mamadou went to the bridge and
later told Human Rights Watch: “We found the body; he was still on the
bridge and still dressed in his clothes. He had been shot many times, maybe 12,
and his body had been stabbed.”

Witnesses told
Human Rights Watch that the bodies of seven other FACA soldiers were also found
at the bridge.

Rape and Sexual Violence

Human Rights Watch was unable to estimate or
confirm the total number of women and girls who were raped by Seleka members. Human
Rights Watch received credible reports of 37 cases of rapes allegedly
perpetrated by Seleka elements in Bangui, Sibut, and Damara. Human Rights Watch
also received credible reports of multiple rapes in Ouandago between
Kaga-Bandoro and Batangafo. Most women were raped by Seleka armed elements who
forced them to undress at night in the street and threatened them at gunpoint.
Due to the insecurity in Bangui, the victims were not able to report the crimes
or seek medical assistance in the days immediately following the incidents.

Human Rights Watch was able to speak
directly with some rape survivors. One woman who was raped together with her
sister told Human Rights Watch:

The day after they captured Bangui, I was
in my house, where I live with my younger sister … when many Seleka
fighters entered the neighborhood. I am 33 years old and my sister is 23. She
was 8 months pregnant when they raped us on March 25. They were shooting in the
air in front of our house. Two armed men entered the house, threatened us, and
forced us to get undressed and lay down on the ground….They both raped
us, one after the other. They were shouting bad words in Sango and in Arabic.
One of them was shouting the Arabic word charmouta (prostitute in
Arabic) while raping me. Then they left the house. Our neighbor took us to the
community hospital, where my sister lost her baby the day after.

Another survivor, a mother of three
children, was assaulted by Seleka fighters in her house during the attack on
Boy-Rabe on April 14:

I was at home with my children when a large number of armed men arrived in
pick-up vehicles in front of my house. Three of them came into my house,
pointed their rifles at me, tied me up in front of my children, and raped me.
After they had raped me, they looted my house and left. I’m now alone
with my children. My husband abandoned me the day after the rape. I feel pains
in my body.

The parents of one rape survivor told Human
Rights Watch that their daughter, age 14, was raped by Seleka forces after they
looted the family’s home. While Seleka forces held the parents at gunpoint,
one of the Seleka members took the daughter outside on the veranda and raped
her. The parents could hear her crying. When finished, the Seleka members told the
parents, “We have done what we came to do.”

While this report’s main focus is on
abuses committed by the Seleka, Human Rights Watch was able to do limited
research on abuses carried out by security agents under the previous
government. These do not represent an exhaustive rendering of human rights abuses
committed under Bozizé’s rule.

On March 23, 2013, Seleka fighters
liberated 17 detainees from a secret detention facility located at the
Bossembélé military training center, 155 kilometers north of
Bangui. The detainees were held incommunicado and in inhumane conditions for
months or years. The facility was run by Bozizé’s elite
Presidential Guard unit.

Detainees and other sources told Human
Rights Watch that the secret military facility was under the control of former
President Bozizé, who would visit the military training center as often
as every other week. Bozizé had a private villa at the
center.

At the time of the coup, 17 men were being
detained in a 25 square-meter cell. Human Rights Watch found that none of the
17 men detained in Bossembélé had been charged, nor were they
informed of the accusations against them. None of them reported that they had
been questioned by interrogators or guards during their detention.

The detained men had either been arrested
by Presidential Guards under the command of Lieutenant Eugène Ngaikosset
in the northeast, or kidnapped by one of President Bozizé’s sons—Joseph
Bozizé, alias “Jojo,” or Aimé Vincent
Bozizé, alias “Papy”—in Bangui.

Those captured in Bangui were usually taken
to the Presidential Palace, the Central Office for the Repression of Banditry (l’Office
centrafricain de répression du banditisme
) or the Investigation and
Intelligence Service (Section de recherches et d’investigations)
before being transferred to Bossembélé by Presidential Guards.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 former
detainees from Bossembélé. They confirmed torture methods and inhumane
conditions of detention. Once arrested, most said they were beaten until they
lost consciousness and were put into a common cell with no windows or access to
daylight. At the center, detainees said they were put in the middle of a group
of soldiers and beaten. As one former detainee described to Human Rights Watch:

They started to hit me
with their guns in my head. They used a whip to hit me and a baton. They put me
in a circle [of soldiers] and beat me. I fell down. They dragged me to a small
canal where they drain the toilets and they pushed me in it and kept hitting
me. They told me to get out but I was starting to lose consciousness. They hit
me so hard that I lost several front teeth

The former
detainees described conditions of near starvation and constant beatings by
Presidential Guards, including by their head, Lieutenant Domboye. According to
one witness:

Guards would enter the cell to kick us.
Once Lieutenant Domboye entered the cell [and] shot in the air; he then shot
two bullets at one detainee’s foot, he then trampled his injured foot
with his boots.

Detainees could watch beatings outside through
a small hole in the door of their cell. Human Rights Watch visited
Bossembélé and confirmed both the existence of the cell and the
ability for men to secretly watch events outside it.

Torture often included being tied with
their wrists connected to their ankles and suspended from a pole while kicked
and beaten with clubs. Detainees told Human Rights Watch they had witnessed
scenes of torture outside the cell, and described at least two men being forced
to dig holes before being shot dead and buried by the Presidential Guards.
Another witness told Human Rights Watch:

[They took the] Bororo with us … outside of the cell
they hog-tied him, he had his wrists and ankles tied with cords and was put on
a long baton like a sheep. They beat and punched him repeatedly for hours. We
could hear and see them beating him through the little holes in the door of the
cell. He never came back.

Other former detainees died shortly after
their liberation. According to one witness, a former detainee:

[w]as thrown into the cell one day, he had
been tied with cords, wrapped in a plastic sheet. He was severely wounded …
he had been so badly tortured. He died of his wounds after we were freed and
was buried in Bangui on April 27.

The majority of detainees at
Bossembélé were Muslims from the north and were accused of being
rebels. As the Seleka advanced on Bangui, the beatings increased. One former
detainee told Human Rights Watch:

When we heard about the Libreville
Agreements in January 2013, including the decision to release political
prisoners, we all thought it was the end of our nightmare. Instead, on January
31, the guards took us all out of the cell; they put us in the centre of the
military training fence and started beating us. We were all tortured severely
in front of each other, like never before.

In a visit to
the Bossembélé barracks, Human Rights Watch was shown two
standing cells on either side of Bozize’s villa, approximately two meters
from the dwelling. The cells were concrete shafts in the ground with just
enough space for a person to stand. A cement enclosure on the top had air holes
for the person to breath, but no space to move. Reliable accounts by former
prisoners indicate that individuals were left in these cells until they died.

On July 26, 2013, Interim President Djotodia announced at a
press conference in Bangui, “There is no longer space for impunity in the
Central African Republic.”However, since coming to power in March, the
government has taken few meaningful steps toward ensuring accountability for
perpetrators of grave human rights abuses.

Former presidents have made similar statements about the
need for accountability, but impunity has been the norm in the country for
decades and has often led to renewed cycles of violence. In 2008 former
President Bozizé adopted an amnesty law that covered crimes committed
between March 2003 and October 2008, despite unanimous opposition by rebel
groups. Some of these groups went on to form the Seleka, who opposed the
exoneration of government troops, particularly the Republican Guard, which
committed human rights crimes in the north.

While the current transitional government under Djotodia
does not appear to be contemplating a formal grant of amnesty, it is repeating
many mistakes of the past by failing to investigate and prosecute recent crimes
committed by the Seleka. No meaningful inquires have been made into the abuses
highlighted in this report, and the few isolated arrests that have occurred
appear to be empty gestures involving minor cases of banditry in the capital.

Evidence of Seleka involvement in serious human rights
abuses has largely been met with denial. When Human Rights Watch presented
Minister of Public Security Noureddine Adam with witness accounts of the
killing of civilians and destruction of villages his response was, “These
events you are mentioning took place before our arrival.”

Where judicial action has occurred, it has been largely
one-sided and has focused on members of the former Bozizé government.
Here too, however, no meaningful investigations appear to have taken place.

The Need for Justice

The crimes documented in this report—including
extrajudicial killings, rape, and other forms of sexual violence, pillage and
destruction of property, unlawful detention, and torture—are all serious
crimes under international and domestic law. By virtue of both treaty and
customary international law, the government has an obligation to carry out
effective investigations into these crimes and to prosecute those persons deemed
responsible in fair and credible trials that meet international standards.

The Central African Republic is a party to the Geneva
Conventions and Additional Protocols I and II, and has ratified the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the African
Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Geneva Conventions, as well as
customary international humanitarian law, establish clear rules of conduct in
conflict, which include prohibitions on targeting the civilian population, or individuals
hors de combat, and the commission of crimes such as rape, murder, torture, and
pillage.

The treaties guarantee respect for fundamental rights,
including the rights to life, liberty, and property and the right to be free
from torture or other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, which must be
upheld by the government.

Beyond the country’s legal obligations to hold perpetrators
of grave international crimes accountable, justice is crucial for the
well-being and security of the civilian population at large. A long history of
abuses committed in the country since colonialism—most of which have gone
unpunished—has created an environment of impunity and has left the
civilian population with little hope that the government will protect them. Victims
of abuse and their families told Human Rights Watch that they wanted
perpetrators held to account. However, several interviewed said that they feel
the Seleka will continue to kill openly and will suffer no repercussions for
their conduct.

Human Rights Watch was
told repeatedly by both victims and members of civil society that the current
level of impunity is breaking down boundaries of normative behavior and further
fueling abuses. As one lawyer and local human rights defender told Human Rights
Watch:

Now a waiter is killed after giving a beer, a taxi driver
is killed after transporting a person. It is planned terror. They steal a
doctor’s car when he is trying to go help someone.…This is the
negation of the existence of humanity.

Fair and credible prosecutions of those responsible for
recent abuses would give these victims some measure of redress for the horrific
harms they have suffered and might deter future abuses. Accountability for the
gravest crimes might also help restore order in the country and strengthen
respect for the rule of law, which in turn, might promote long-term peace and
stability.

Commission of Inquiry

On May 22, 2013, a presidential decree established a
National Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations committed
since 2002 and to identify the persons most responsible for these crimes. The
commission is also tasked with identifying individual victims and assessing
levels of damage for eventual compensation.

In theory, the commission—composed of judges, human
rights defenders, and police officers—should address all serious
violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed from
just before Bozizé took power until the present, including the most
recent abuses committed by the Seleka. As part of its work, the commission
could recommend that domestic prosecutions are undertaken to address the crimes
documented in its final report.

However, the body remains a commission in name only and has
been unable to begin its work. Since its creation, the commission has not
received the necessary funding or support to carry out proper investigations.
Commission staff have not been paid and have not been given vehicles or
logistical support with which to carry out investigations. The minister of justice
told Human Rights Watch, “The commission has no means with which to do
its work. It only has one clerk.” Mathias
Morouba, a lawyer and local human rights campaigner who had originally agreed
to serve as the vice president of the commission, resigned from his post in
June 2013.

State of the National Judicial System

Before the Seleka took power, the legacy of impunity in the
country was tied to a combination of factors: a lack of political will; successive
granting of amnesties; the absence of a functioning and professional police
force; and the lack of an independent public prosecutor and judiciary. These
problems, which sustained a dysfunctional judicial system, have only
intensified since the Seleka takeover.

Human Rights Watch noted the physical destruction of the
judicial system outside Bangui: both Seleka fighters and commonplace looters
have stripped regional courts of all furniture and fixtures, burned or
destroyed court documents, and stolen court vehicles. Court officials have
either abandoned their posts or have not been paid.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan
Šimonović made similar observations when he visited a regional court
in Bambari in late July: “I only found an empty room with broken doors,
no windows, and a thick layer of remnants of archives and registries covering
the floor.”

Along with state administration outside Bangui, the judicial
system has been gutted and the courts have ceased to function. In this context,
even judicial officials are pessimistic, as the national prosecutor in Bangui
told Human Rights Watch, “There is no justice, no forgiveness, no repair….
We had….[former president] Patassé and Bozizé, then the
Seleka…. [it is a continual] cycle of violence and impunity.”

In the provinces, Seleka officials have claimed to Human
Rights Watch that they have the authority to be at the same time the police,
prosecutor, and judge in the zones under their command. The minister of justice
told Human Rights Watch that the head of the Seleka in Bambari had declared
himself the head of the local courts. The
lack of judicial process has only exacerbated the already tense situation and
has left civilians with the impression that the government has no intention of
pursuing justice for recent abuses.

Domestic Investigations and Prosecutions

Human Rights Watch has not been given any indication that
the National Prosecutor’s Office has investigated the serious abuses
committed in Bangui or outside the capital.

A few arrests have been made since the Seleka took power in
March, but they have been isolated arrests made against so called false Seleka
accused of looting in the capital and appear to be more for show than ensuring
accountability. Following the discovery of several young men’s bodies in
the Ubangui River near the capital in mid-July, Minister of Justice
Arsène Sende announced at a July 26 press conference that investigations
had begun and that “in a few days you will be aware of the identity of
the perpetrators.”
However, no further steps have been taken to identify and prosecute those
responsible.

All other current investigations appear to be aimed at members
of the former government. On May 29, the national prosecutor announced the
issuance of an international arrest warrant against former president Bozizé.
Human Rights Watch is not aware of any formal investigation conducted prior to
the issuance of the arrest warrant. The minister of justice told Human Rights
Watch that an investigation was not necessary as, “On the basis of
information or reports, the prosecutor may apply to the magistrate to open an
investigation.” During
the same interview, however, the minister stated that, “Bozizé was
too agitated in Yaoundé; he was too vocal. He had to calm down,”
implying political considerations may have contributed to the decision to issue
the arrest warrant.

The Seleka arrested General Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, former
minister of water and forests in the transitional government, on June 30. As of
early August, he is being held in a military camp in Bangui but has yet to be
formally charged. He has also not been before a judge, despite the requirement
in the country’s penal code that individuals must be presented before a
court within 48 hours of their arrest. A member of the National Transitional
Council, which replaced the national parliament, told Human Rights Watch,
“This arrest was just a settling of scores within the Seleka. It has
nothing to do with justice.”

On July 4, former Prime Minister Faustin-Archange
Touadéra was blocked from leaving the country on the grounds that he is
being investigated for his role in human rights abuses. However, no further
judicial action has been taken against him since that time.

International Criminal Court

The Central African Republic first accepted the jurisdiction
of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2001, when it became a state party
to the Rome Statute. On December 22, 2004, the government went one step further
and referred the situation in the country to the ICC prosecutor after a Bangui
Court of Appeals ruled that domestic courts were unable to prosecute grave
international crimes effectively.

The ICC prosecutor initiated a preliminary examination of
the 2002-2003 events in the country and, in May 2007, announced the opening of
a formal investigation. During
his announcement, the prosecutor noted that he would monitor more recent events
to determine whether crimes committed in the north as part of a
counterinsurgency campaign warranted investigation.

The ICC investigation has led to only one case, that of
Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. Bemba, a Congolese
national and former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was in
the Central African Republic beginning in 2002 after its then-President
Patassé, invited him and his Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC)
forces, as well as Chadian mercenaries, to help put down a coup attempt by François
Bozizé, theformer chief of staff.
Bemba’s MLC forces are alleged to have carried out mass rapes, killings,
and looting against the civilian population in the Central African Republic.
Bemba was arrested in Belgium in 2008, and he was promptly transferred to The
Hague to face justice before the ICC. His trial began in November 2010 and is
expected to finish in late 2013, although a ruling is not expected before 2014.

Many observers had hoped that
the ICC prosecutor would initiate additional cases in connection with the
events of 2002-03, including against former president Patassé (who died
in April 2011). While this has not happened, the ICC prosecutor has placed
direct pressure on national authorities to investigate and prosecute more
recent crimes. On June 10, 2008, then-ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo addressed
aletter to then-President
François Bozizé noting that “sustained attention needed to
be paid to the acts of violence committed in the north of the Central African
Republic.”In
response, Bozizé sought the UN’s assistance in suspending ICC
investigations, arguing in a letter to the UN secretary-general that the
domestic justice system was competent to investigate and prosecute more recent
crimes itself.
Bozizé’s letter resulted in no action by the UN Security Council.

Current ICC Prosecutor Fatou
Bensouda continues to monitor developments in the country and has indicated
that she may exercise jurisdiction over more recent crimes. She issued public
statements on April 22 and August 7, 2013, warning those responsible for recent
abuses that their crimes may fall under the ICC’s jurisdiction and that
her office will prosecute if necessary.

The ICC prosecutor should
continue to monitor the situation in the Central African Republic and should
press national authorities to investigate and prosecute all perpetrators of
grave international crimes. As appropriate, her office should continue to speak
out publicly with her assessment of events in the country and should remind all
parties involved of the ICC’s jurisdiction over crimes being committed.

Violence against
civilians continues in CAR. Human Rights Watch received credible reports of at
least 20 people killed by the Seleka during a large scale looting operation in
Boy-Rabe on the night of August 20. Interim President Djotodia continues to
blame the violence on Bozizé loyalists and
remains incapable of controlling his troops. Humanitarian agencies remain
hobbled by violence in both Bangui and the provinces. The Seleka continue to
attack civilians with widespread impunity. Villagers still in their homes live
in fear of Seleka attacks; those who have fled continue to suffer and die in
the bush.

This report was researched and written by
Lewis Mudge, researcher in the Africa Division at Human Rights Watchand Elsa Le Pennec, consultant for Human
Rights Watch’s Emergencies Division. It was reviewed by Rona Peligal,
deputy director of the Africa Division; Aisling Reidy, senior legal advisor;
and Danielle Haas, senior editor in the Program Office. This report also
benefitted from the editorial review of Agnes Odhiambo, Woman’s Rights
Division; Bede Sheppard, Children’s Rights Division; and Leslie Haskell,
International Justice Division. Josh Lyons of the Emergencies Division produced
the satellite imagery. John Emerson provided the maps. Production and editing assistance
was provided by Lianna Merner, senior associate in the Africa Division.
Production assistance was provided by Fitzroy Hepkins, mail manager.

Danielle Serres translated the report into
French, with the assistance of Simon Marrero. Peter Huvos, French website
editor, vetted the French translation.

Human Rights Watch wishes to thank its
translators and fixers who helped with research, logistical assistance, and
translations. This report would not have been possible without their brave
assistance; to protect their anonymity their names have been withheld.

Human Rights Watch wishes to thank the
hundreds of victims and witnesses of violence in CAR, and their relatives, who
spoke with Human Rights Watch, sometimes at great personal risk, as well as
human rights activists and journalists in CAR who continue to document and
report on abuses in the face of intimidation and violence.

In most parts of Bangui and in the
provinces, Multinational Forces for Central Africa (FOMAC) troops serving under
the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in Central African Republic
(MICOPAX) have been unable to ensure civilian protection. The mission remains
understaffed and underfunded.

Under an agreement
signed in late 2007 in Brazzaville by the
Economic
Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
Heads of State,
MICOPAX
was deployed to the Central African
Republic with logistical and financial support provided by France and the
European Union. The overall objective of the MICOPAX and FOMAC was to
contribute to the consolidation of peace and restore stability in CAR in preparations
for a democratic transition in 2008. FOMAC-MICOPAX was also tasked with
restructuring the Central African Armed Forces (FACA), of which they achieved
limited success
.

When the Seleka coalition was launched in
December 2012, the ECCAS Heads of State met that month and called on the rebel
group to retreat to its original positions in the north. The January 11, 2013 Libreville
peace agreements, signed under the auspices of the ECCAS, included a ceasefire
between President Bozizé and the Seleka, power-sharing arrangements, and
a timeline for a political transition.

When the Seleka started its descent toward
Bangui in December 2012, MICOPAX was not capable of maintaining security. In
late March, FOMAC troops failed to prevent the Seleka from passing their lines
at Damara upon which they descended upon Bangui. On March 23, the Seleka won a
fierce battle against soldiers of the South African Defence Force, the last
line of defense, killing 13.They took the capital the next day. Bozizé
fled Bangui on March 24. Latest reports indicate he is currently in France. The
United Nations and AU condemned the coup. The AU suspended the Central African
Republic on March 25, 2013.

On April 3, the ECCAS called for the
creation of a National Transitional Council in CAR and two weeks later also
decided to deploy an additional 2,000 troops to assist MICOPAX in CAR’s
stabilization. The ECCAS established an International Contact Group, which held
its first meeting on May 3 in Brazzaville and expressed its support for the
implementation of the transitional process as articulated by ECCAS.

The MICOPAX mission was transitioned into
the AU-led International Support Mission in the
Central African Republic (AFISM-CAR) on August 1, 2013. While the
AU’s Peace and Security Council is calling for the deployment of 3,500
uniformed personnel, most of these troops will be made up of contingents that
were already serving in MICOPAX. The mandate of AFISM-CAR is: protection of
civilians; stabilization of the country and restoration of the authority of a
central government; security sector reform; and the creation of conditions for
the provision of humanitarian assistance.

There are currently over 1,000 AFISM-CAR
troops in CAR, with small numbers in bases in Kaga-Bandoro and
Ndélé monitoring large swathes of territory. Nevertheless, in
areas with a peacekeeping presence, such as Kaga-Bandoro, Human Rights Watch
noted there were fewer human rights abuses than where there is no presence.

In mid-July a comprehensive

DDR process was discussed between the
transitional government, members of the Seleka, and MICOPAX. FOMAC troops
disarmed only isolated Seleka elements in Bangui.

On July 26, 2013, Burundian President
Pierre Nkurunziza announced that 500 soldiers were ready to be deployed to CAR
as a part of a peacekeeping mission.


May 9, 2008

:
The Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (Armée
populaire pour la restauration de la république et la démocratie
,
APRD) signs a peace deal in Libreville under the auspices of an ad hoc
committee of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), led
by President Omar Bongo of Gabon.


June 21, 2008

: The APRD and the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (Union
des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement,
UFDR) sign
the Global Peace Accord with the government of CAR in Libreville. This
agreement grants amnesty for any acts perpetrated against the state prior to
its inception and calls for a disarmament and demobilization process to
integrate rebels from the north.

July 3, 2009: The Central African
People’s Democratic Front (Front démocratique du peuple
centrafricain
, FDPC) signs an act of adherence to the Global Peace Accord.


June 12, 2011

: The Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (Convention
des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix,
CPJP) signs a ceasefire
with the government.


August 25, 2012

: The CPJP signs a peace deal with the government.


December 21, 2012

: At an extraordinary summit, the member states of the Economic
Community of Central African States (Communauté économique des
États de l’Afrique centrale,
ECCAS) call on the Seleka to stop its
advance on Bangui.


January 11, 2013

: The Seleka and President François Bozizé sign the
Libreville Agreement to prevent the violent overthrow of the government and to
set up a three-year power sharing arrangement between Bozizé and the
Seleka as a part of a political transition. The agreement, negotiated under the
auspices of the ECCAS, provides for a ceasefire between the government and the
Seleka and specifies that Bozizé should remain in power until the end of
his term in 2016. It also stipulates that a prime minister should be appointed
from the opposition and be granted full executive power. Finally, the agreement
stipulates that a national unity government should be established and be
responsible for organizing elections within a year after the dissolution of the
National Assembly.


January 2013

:
The role of the Multinational Forces for Central Africa (FOMAC) is redefined to
enforce the January 11, 2013 Libreville Agreement. FOMAC establishes a
“red-line” at Damara, 100 miles north of the capital.


March 24, 2013

: The Seleka take Bangui.


April 3, 2013

: ECCAS calls for a national transitional government to be
established.


April 18, 2013

: ECCAS calls for 2,000 additional FOMAC troops to be deployed
before June 5.


May 3, 2013:

The African Union’s International Contact Group (ICG) on the Central
African Republic meets in Brazzaville to reaffirm its support during the
transition period in CAR. Amongst other things, it “warns the authors,
sponsors and accomplices of the acts, abuses and other violation of human
rights, as well as the acts likely to be considered as crimes against mankind
and stresses the related individual criminal responsibility.”


June 17, 2013

: The AU Peace and Security Committee requests the AU Commission to
engage in consultations for the establishment of an African-led International Support
Mission in the Central African Republic (AFISM-CAR) within 30 days.
Consultations are held between July 2 and 5.


July 8, 2013

:
In a meeting of the ICG the AU Commission and ECCAS are encouraged to pursue
their cooperation with other actors to speed up the process of integrating Mission
for the Consolidation of Peace in Central African Republic (MICOPAX) into AFISM

CAR and
facilitate the deployment of this mission with a robust mandate.


July 19, 2013

: The AU Peace and Security Committee adopt the decision to turn
MICOPAX into AFISM-CAR to protect civilians and restore security and public
order; stabilize the country and restore authority of the central government;
reform and restructure the security and defense services; and create conditions
for the provision of humanitarian assistance. The decision takes effect on
August 1, 2013. The decision calls for the deployment of 3,500 uniformed
personnel for six months and acknowledges that “the nucleus will be
constituted by the contingents currently serving in MICOPAX.”

In its September 2007 report on CAR, Human Rights Watch
reported on abuses by the Bozizé government security forces, documenting
serious and widespread abuses against the civilian population, including
multiple summary executions and unlawful killings, widespread burning of
civilian homes, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and ill-treatment. Following
this report few substantive changes were made to address civilian protection
and abuses committed by the armed forces. For more information see Human Rights
Watch, State of Anarchy: Rebellion and Abuses against Civilians,
September 2007, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2007/09/14/state-anarchy.

The APRD was established in 2005/2006 after the 2005 elections
legitimized the 2003 coup. It was primarily made up of elements of the
Presidential Guard still loyal to Patassé and community defense groups
operating in the Ouham-Pendé province. In 2008 it emerged as a political
front with former defense minister under Patassé, Jean Jacques
Demafouth, as the civilian leader. He agreed only to take this post if the
group would sign a peace accord.

The FDPC was established by Abdoulayé Miskine (born Martin Koumtamadji),
an ethnic N’Gama, in 2005 in the north of the country near Kabo in the Ouham
province. At this time the group maintained a presence in a small area near the
Chadian border with a handful of combatants. Miskine signed a ceasefire in
December 2006. However in 2008 it increased attacks on government positions. The
group signed an act of adherence to the 2008 Global Peace Accord in 2009,
however they continued small-scale attacks throughout 2009 and beyond before
signing the Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2013. The FDPC was
affiliated with the Seleka at the start of the movement but subsequently
distanced itself.

Human Rights Watch interview with FOMAC officer, Kaga Bandoro,
June 5, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Colonel Saleh Zabadi, Bossangoa, June 8, 2013

The Peuhl are a nomadic, pastoralist ethnic group spread across West and Central
Africa. A cultural identifier of this group revolves around herding cattle.

Human Rights Watch interviews with multiple witnesses, Dekoa,
June 5, 2013.

Human Rights Watch researchers were able to convince the villagers that they
were not from the Seleka. Human Rights Watch gently encouraged the residents to
come out, assuring them of security and confidentiality.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Gbade, June 9,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Bougone, June 9,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Kadi, June 8,
2013.

Takaji is also the chairperson of the National Federation of
Cattle Herders in the Central African Republic (Fédération nationale
des éleveurs centrafricains
), Human Rights Watch interview with
Adoum Takaji, Batangafo, June 8, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Kadi, June 8,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Sirkadi, June 8,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Bogoro, June 8,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Kadi, June 8,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Nguimale, June 6,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Maorka, June 6,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Ndanika, June 6,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Yangoussou, June
6, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Maorka, June 6,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Maorka, June 6,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with school official at Maorka,
June 6, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Ndanika, June 6,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Yangoussou, June
6, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Zere, June 8,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Boubou, June 8,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Boubou, June 8, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Zere, June 8,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Ouin, June 7,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Ouin, June 7,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Ouin, June 7,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Ouin, June 7,
2013.


Chef d’antenne

is a Seleka
military commander based in Bangui.

Human Rights Watch interview with Adoum Takaji, Batangafo,
June 8, 2013.

Due to security concerns Human Rights Watch was not able to go
to Gbaduma, however, multiple authorities from other villages along this road
confirmed this information.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Bodoro, June 9,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Bougone, June 9,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Gbade, June 9,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Colonel Saleh Zabadi,
Bossangoa, June 9, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Sacrifier-Boris Yamassamba,
Bossangoa, June 9, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Gbi-Gbi, June 8,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Jean-Michel Bangui, Bouca,
June 8, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Col. Saleh Zabadi,
Bossangoa, June 9, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Jean-Michel Bangui, Bouca,
June 8, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Noureddine Adam, minister of public
security, Bangui, June 12, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with official from Damala,
Bangui, June 10, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with victim of the Damala
shootings, Bangui, June 11, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with victim of the Damala
shootings, Bangui, June 11, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with authority from Damala,
Bangui, June 10, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Damala, Bangui,
June 11, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with individual close to Bingilego,
Bangui, June 11, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with individual close to Hehine,
Bangui, June 11, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with witness to Walingba attack, Bangui, April 24,
2013

Human Rights Watch interview with witness of Ngaragba Bridge
attack, Bangui, April 20, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with witness of Ngaragba Bridge
attack, Bangui, April 20, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Boy-Rabe,
Bangui, April 23, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Boy-Rabe, Bangui,
April 23, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Noureddine Adam, minister of
public security, Bangui, May 1, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, (Former)
minister of water and forests, Bangui, May 1, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Boy-Rabe, Bangui,
April 23, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with witness to Assana’s
killing, Bangui, April 25, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Boy-Rabe, Bangui,
April 23, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with an individual close to
Yankioisee, Bangui, April 23, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with witness to the killing of Poumengakola
and her daughter, Bangui, April 23, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with grandmother of a survivor, Bangui, April 24,
2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Noureddine Adam, minister of public
security, Bangui, June 12, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with survivor of Mpoko River
killings, Bangui, April 24, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interviewed multiple witnesses from
Boy-Rabe who confirmed that mobs of people, particularly youth, would isolate
Seleka fighters and kill them with stones. The total number of Seleka fighters
killed in Boy-Rabe over April 13 and 14 is not known, but it is at least three.

Human Rights Watch interview with survivor of Mpoko River
killings, Bangui, April 24, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with survivor of Mpoko River
killings, Bangui, April 24, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with survivor of Mpoko River
killings, Bangui, April 24, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with survivor of Mpoko River
killings, Bangui, April 24, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with survivor of Mpoko River
killings, Bangui, April 24, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with survivor of Mpoko River
killings, Bangui, April 24, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with survivor of Mpoko River
killings, Bangui, April 24, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with individual close to Konama,
Bangui, April 21, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with individual close to Konama,
Bangui, April 24, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with individual close to Konama,
Bangui, April 21, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with individual close to Konama,
Bangui, April 25, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with individual close to Mamadou,
Bangui, April 25, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with individuals close to
Mamadou, Bangui, April 24, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with rape survivor, Bangui, April
22, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with rape survivor, Bangui, April
22, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with mother of rape survivor,
Bangui, April 22, 2013.

For more information see Human Rights Watch, State of
Anarchy: Rebellion and Abuses against Civilians
, September 2007, Amnesty
International, Central African Republic – action needed to end decades of
abuse
, October 2011, and International Crisis Group, Central African
Republic: Keeping the Dialogue Alive
, Africa Briefing N˚69, January
12, 2010.

The detention facility is commonly known as
“Guantanamo” in reference to the American detention facility in
Cuba.

Joseph Bozizé, alias “Jojo” was the head of the
National Basketball Association under the former government. Aimé
Vincent Bozizé, alias “Papy” was the head of the Investigation
and Intelligence Service (Section de recherches et d’investigations)
of the police.

Human Rights Watch interview with former detainee from Bossembélé,
Bangui, April 29, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with former detainee from
Bossembélé, Bangui, April 29, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with former detainee from
Bossembélé, Bangui, April 29, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with former detainee from
Bossembélé, Bangui, April 29, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with former detainee from
Bossembélé, Bangui, April 29, 2013. The 2013 Libreville ceasefire
agreement contained a clause that would see the release of political prisoners
in CAR.

Human Rights Watch interview with NoureddineAdam, minister of public security, Bangui, June 12, 2013.

A review of the state of international law on justice for serious crimes is
available in Human Rights Watch, Selling Justice Short: Why Accountability
Matters for Peace, July 2009, http://www.hrw.org/node/84262/section/3,
pp. 10-17.

See: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), adopted
December 16, 1966, G.A.

Res. 2200A (XXI), 21 UN GAOR Supp. (No.
16) at 52, UN Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 UNT.S. arts. 6, 7, 9, 10 at http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx
(accessed August 2, 2013); the African (Banjul) Charter on Human
and Peoples’ Rights, Adopted 27 June 1981, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5,
21 I.L.M. 58 (1982), entered into

force 21 October 1986 arts. 4, 5, 6, 14 at http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/
(accessed August 2, 2013; the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
(Rome Statute), A/CONF.183/9, July 17, 1998 entered into force July 1,

2002, art.: 7-8 at http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/romefra.htm
(accessed August 2, 2013); or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR),
adopted December 10, 1948, G.A. Res. 217A(III), U. N. Doc. A/810 at 1

(1948), at www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
(accessed August 2, 2013).

Human Rights Watch interview with residents of Boy-Rabe, April
23, 2013; Human Rights Watch interview with resident of Gbade, June 9, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with human
rights lawyers, Bangui, April 22, 2013.

The World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report, “Conflict,
Security, and Development”, states as its “central message …
that strengthening legitimate institutions and governance to provide citizen
security, justice, and jobs is crucial to break cycles of violence.”
World Bank, World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security, and Development
(Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2011), http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWDRS/Resources/WDR2011_Full_Text.pdf
(accessed July 31, 2013), p. 2. See also UN Security Council, “The Rule
of Law and Transitional Justice in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies,”
S/2011/634, October 12, 2011, http://www.unrol.org/files/S_2011_634EN.pdf
(accessed August 2, 2013), paragraphs 17-32.

Decree (No. 13.106) was issued on May 22, 2013 for the establishment of a
Commission of Inquiry to be chaired by judge Flammarion Goba.

Human Rights Watch interview with Arsène Sende,
minister of justice, Bangui, June 3, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Alain Tolmo, national prosecutor, Bangui,
June 12, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Arsène Sende, minister
of justice, Bangui, June 3, 2013.

News conference , Ledger Plaza Hotel, Bangui, July 26, 2013.

Human Rights Watch interview with Arsène Sende, minister of justice,
Bangui, June 3, 2013. Sende told Human Rights Watch that the 2007 Human
Rights Watch report, State of Anarchy: Rebellion and Abuses against Civilians,
was used as a report forming the basis of the arrest warrant.

Human Rights Watch phone interview with member of the National Transitional
Council, July 31, 2013.

In April 2006, the Cour de Cassation, the country’s highest court,
reaffirmed the inability of domestic courts to investigate and prosecute grave
international crimes committed in the country. See
International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), “La Cour de Cassation
confirme l’incapacité des tribunaux à enquêter sur
les crimes graves. Le Procureur de la Cour pénale internationale doit
ouvrir une enquête sur la situation en RCA,” April 13, 2006, http://www.fidh.org/La-Cour-de-Cassation-confirme-l (accessed July 26, 2013).

[136]
Article 16 of the Rome Statute allows the UN Security Council, in exceptional
circumstances, to pass a resolution under its Chapter VII authority to defer an
ICC investigation or prosecution for a renewable period of 12 months. Chapter
VII of the UN Charter only empowers the Security Council to take measures to
“maintain or restore international peace and security.”

[137]
“Prosecutor’s Statement in relation to [the] situation in [the]
Central African Republic,” ICC Press Release, August 7, 2013, http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/press%20and%20media/press%20releases/Pages/otp-statement-07-08-2013.aspx
(accessed August 14, 2013); “Prosecutor’s Statement in relation to
[the] situation in [the] Central African Republic,” ICC Press Release,
April 22, 2013, http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/press%20and%20media/press%20releases/Pages/otp-statement-22-04-2013.aspx
(accessed July 26, 2013).

Source link : https://www.hrw.org/report/2013/09/18/i-can-still-smell-dead/forgotten-human-rights-crisis-central-african-republic

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