(Nairobi) – A rebel group in the Central African Republic has executed at least 32 civilians and captured combatants after clashes in December 2016 with another rebel group in the province of Ouaka.
In the city of Bakala on 12 December, Union of Peace Rebels in the Central African Republic (UPC) executed 25 people who had been summoned to a school for what they believed to be a meeting. Earlier that day, a group of UPC combatants had also detained and executed seven men who were returning from a nearby gold mine. Stories of these incidents were provided by a survivor and eight witnesses, including five men who were forced to help get rid of the bodies. At least 29 other civilians have been killed in fighting around Bakala since late November.
A rebel group in the Central African Republic has executed at least 32 civilians and captured combatants after clashes in December 2016 with another rebel group in the province of Ouaka.
« These executions are blatant war crimes committed by UPC fighters who feel free to kill at will, » said Lewis Mudge, a researcher with Africa’s Human Rights Watch division. « This group commits murders without fear of punishment despite the presence of United Nations peacekeeping forces. «
The appointment on 15 February 2017 of an Attorney General of the Special Criminal Court – a new judicial body composed of national and international judges and prosecutors and responsible for prosecuting the perpetrators of serious human rights violations committed since 2003 – Not important to criminal responsibility, Human Rights Watch said. The court, based in the capital, Bangui, should now recruit additional staff without delay so that it can begin investigations and prosecutions.
Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that the tensions between the UPC and the Popular Front for the Central African Rebirth (CPRF), another rebel group of the predominantly Muslim Seleka fighters, grew rapidly at the end of November. The fighting began on 27 November 2016 around Mourouba, 18 kilometers west of Bakala, and the UPC attacked civilians suspected of belonging to an anti-Balaka militia allied with the RPF.
The FPRC has allied itself with anti-Balaka militia, its former enemies, to fight the UPC. Anti-balaka appeared in 2013, coming from existing self-defense groups to resist the abuses of the Seleka, and they themselves committed serious abuses against civilians.
At the end of January 2017, Human Rights Watch conducted interviews with 28 people in and around Balaka, including victims of other crimes committed by the UPC, relatives of victims and UPC commanders. The total number of victims is probably higher than the 32 executed and the 29 civilians killed in the clashes, as dozens more are reported missing, according to family members. Human Rights Watch has been unable to confirm all reported killings due to limited access and security concerns.