8 August 2016
Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR), 8 August 2016 – Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), in collaboration with the non-governmental organisation, REDRESS, supports the setting up of a Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic. A workshop that brought together civil society, legal and international players has drawn uprecommendations for the next stages of establishing this Court. The stakes are crucial: to launch trials for serious crimes and pave the way to reconciliation and a lasting peace in the CAR.
Since 2003, the CAR has experienced several political crises resulting in grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law. Adrien Nifasha, ASF Country Director in CAR, explains that “the recurrence of these crises results notably from the absence of legal proceedings against those who commit these serious violations. The Special Criminal Court (SCC) therefore seems to be one way to fight against impunity.”
The SCC was established by Organic Law No. 15 -003 of 3 June 2015 but now has to be made operational. That is why ASF and REDRESS organised in the capital of Central African Republic a workshop to discuss the issue, the only one of its kind since the promulgation of the law establishing the SCC.
The key national and international civil society organisations involved in issues related to international and transitional criminal justice in the CAR, as well as experts from MINUSCA, the Central African Republic bar and the Central African Republic judiciary, had the opportunity to exchange views and, at the conclusion of the two-day workshop (12-13 July), drew up a set of recommendations addressed to different levels.
They recommend that the international community encourage and support the government of Central African Republic to speed up the process of setting up the SCC, to support civil society organisations in their efforts to raise victims’ awareness of the SCC and to support players involved in combating impunity in terms of documenting cases of serious human rights violations.
The government of the Central African Republic is asked to provide appropriate infrastructure for the seat of the Special Criminal Court, to address shortcomings in the Organic Law when drafting the Court’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, through a consultative process that includes civil society, to translate this law into Sango (the lingua franca in CAR) and make it known and understood by the population, to display real political will to implement the SCC, and to set up a compensation fund for victims of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
Lastly, the participants also address recommendations to civil society organisations: to advocate for the government to make the Court operational, to support the government in making the Organic Law on the SCC known and understood by the population and to raise victims’ awareness of their rights before the SCC.
“These recommendations supplement those already made on 24 August 2015 and 21 April 2016 respectively by ASF and other players. The aim is to make the Special Criminal Court a reality, so that justice can be handed down at last. This is an indispensable step in the process of stabilising the CAR“, concludes Adrien Nifasha.
 United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic