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GENEVA (27 January 2021) – A UN expert said today the Central African Republic’s handover to the International Criminal Court (ICC) of a former militia commander suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity is a strong warning to rebel groups, political actors and others who thrive on impunity.

“The transfer of Mahamat Said Abdel Kani on 24 January sends a strong message. Justice is an essential pillar of the ongoing peace and reconciliation process and the construction of the rule of law,” said Yao Agbetse, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic.

He welcomed the transfer as part of the fight against impunity and the need for justice for the victims of massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the CAR.

The ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Said on suspicion of being responsible for crimes including torture, persecution and enforced disappearance in Bangui in 2013. The Court found there were reasonable grounds to believe that, under Said’s command, the predominantly rebel coalition Seleka had carried out widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population and others such as Anti-balaka militias.

Agbetse said he encouraged ICC and Special Criminal Court investigations of people and entities listed by the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee and supported ongoing investigations to arrest those allegedly responsible for human rights and international humanitarian law violations, including the leaders of the Coalition of Patriots for Change and their supporters.

“I call on the Central African Republic authorities to create conditions that will put an end to impunity and bring justice to the victims,” the Independent Expert said.

ENDS

*Mr. Yao Agbetse (Togo) is United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic. 

Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.