The new wave of violence which has left dozens of civilians dead and at least 100 injured highlights the fragility of the reconciliation process and the urgent need for enhanced protection of civilians, disarmament and an end to impunity in Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today.
Clashes erupted over the weekend in the capital Bangui and have continued today.
“The deadly violence in the capital illustrates that CAR remains in a very fragile state and that immediate action must be taken to enhance the capacity of UN peacekeepers to detect and respond effectively to such incidents before escalation of attacks on civilians,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International regional director for West and Central Africa.
“Small arms have been used by all sides to the conflict to attack civilians. The disarmament of all civilians and armed groups therefore needs to be speeded up to prevent all sides to the conflict using these weapons to commit further crimes under international law, including war crimes.”
Fighting has reportedly continued throughout last night and today in some neighbourhoods in Bangui. Some populations have started to flee combat zones while offices of at least three NGOs were looted.
Last May, 10 rival armed groups signed a deal with the transitional authorities to lay down their arms and enter in a process of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation. Elections are scheduled in CAR on 18 October.
Amnesty International has called on combatants to end attacks on civilians and for those suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity to be brought before the courts.
“The pattern of impunity that has existed in CAR must be broken,” said Alioune Tine.
“In a country where all sides have used small arms to perpetrate crimes under international law, disarmament is a vital part of efforts to end crimes under international law. Disarmament must be sustained and supported alongside efforts to ensure that there is justice for crimes under international law.”