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Central African Republic government establishes special criminal court

[JURIST] The current government of the Central African Republic [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], the National Transition Council, voted Wednesday to create a Special Criminal Court. The new judicial entity is to be made up of [StarAfrica report] 27 judges, including 14 from CAR and 13 from other countries. The creation of the special criminal tribunal has garnered strong support [HRW report] from international and African human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], which have viewed the body as the best method of combating the atrocities committed during recent unrest in the country which has left thousands dead and many more displaced.

Violence has persisted in the CAR for the past two years, escalating after the predominately Muslim-based Seleka rebels ousted the government of Bozize in March 2013. According to UN estimates, nearly 440,000 people remain displaced in the country while 190,000 others have sought asylum outside its borders. In January members of a UN investigatory commission reported that crimes against humanity have been widely committed by all parties to the conflict in the CAR and called for the establishment of an international court [JURIST report] to objectively investigate and prosecute perpetrators of these crimes. Earlier in January the UN published a report [JURIST report] stating that the acts committed in the CAR constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity but not genocide. Despite this finding, members of the international community maintain that there is much work to be done [JURIST op-ed] in the nation. In September the International Criminal Court [official website] opened [JURIST report] a second investigation into CAR war crimes.

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