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Amnesty: unpunished war crimes in CAR call for rebuilding of justice system

[JURIST] Perpetrators of war crimes in the Central African Republic (CAR) have not been prosecuted [press release] or investigated for their crimes, according to an Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] report [text, PDF] on Wednesday. According to AI, the country's justice system needs to be reconstructed and a Special Criminal Court, tasked with trying suspected war criminals, and a witness protection program must be established to accomplish this. After the conflict in CAR [AI backgrounder] many of their courts and prisons were left inoperable causing those detained to be kept in crumbling buildings and insanitary conditions. The lack of security also allows for repeated prison breaks. Ilaria Allegrozzi, AI Central Africa Researcher, says the number of individuals who are free after committing these "horrific crimes" are "undermining efforts to rebuild CAR and create sustainable peace." Victims are forced to live side by side with their alleged attacker. Since September 2016 the impunity of many war criminals has contributed to the rise in violence.

Violence has persisted in the CAR since the predominately Muslim-based Seleka rebels ousted former president François Bozize [BBC profile] in March 2013. In November UNICEF [official website] called for [press release] aid to approximately 1.2 million children distressed by conflict [JURIST report] in the CAR. In January 2015 members of a UN investigatory commission reported that crimes against humanity have been widely committed by all parties to the conflict in the CAR, prompting the commission to call for the establishment of an international court [JURIST report] to objectively investigate and prosecute crimes. Earlier that month the UN published a report stating that violent acts committed in the CAR constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity [JURIST report] 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.

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