Human Rights Watch released a report Sunday stating that the Central African Republic government should coordinate with UN peacekeepers to ensure that war crimes suspect Hassan Bouba is returned to custody.
Bouba, a minister and former rebel group leader in the Central African Republic, was released from detention in defiance of court orders and escorted home by national gendarmes on November 26. He was originally arrested on November 19 on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges brought by the country’s war crimes court, the Special Criminal Court.
On November 26, the Special Criminal Court stated in a press release that it had “learned with great indignation of the release from prison of the accused Bouba Ali Hassan when he was due to appear before the Cabinet of instruction to rule on his placement in pre-trial detention.”
In 2017, Human Rights Watch documented that at least 188 civilians had been killed in fighting between the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic, of which Bouba was leader, and anti-balaka fighters in the Basse-Kotto province.
Associate International Justice Director Elise Keppler stated: “[I]f the Central African Republic wants to address impunity for atrocities, the government needs to support the Special Criminal Court and Bouba’s immediate re-arrest.”
She noted that in defying the Special Criminal Court’s orders, the Central African Republic undermines efforts to advance justice in the country. Keppler also asked that international partners such as the US and French governments, along with the European Union and UN peacekeeping forces, insist that the court’s orders are followed and that Bouba face due process.