Serious and Substantial Human Rights Violations in Bangui
(Press Release Issued by International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Ligue centrafricaine des droits de l'Homme (LCDH))
Posted November 13, 2002
Paris, November 5, 2002 - The FIDH and its affiliated organisation, the Ligue Centrafricaine des Droits de l'Homme (LCDH), firmly condemn the serious human rights violations which followed the coup de force of the former Central African chief of the military headquarters, General Bozizé, against President Patassé, and which currently continue in the capital, Bangui.
Even though the coup de force has been controlled in the capital, the risk of a new confrontation remains.
In that respect, the FIDH and the LCDH recall their unfailing attachment to the democratic principles and steadily condemn the methods of accession to power which are performed out of any constitutional legality. In any case, one must bring to light the human rights violations committed during the coup de force, both by rebels and the loyalist forces supported by the Libyan troops and the militia of Jean-Pierre Bemba.
The FIDH and the LCDH are particularly concerned by the situation of total insecurity which currently prevails in the Central African capital and its surroundings, which is affecting first of all the civilian population.
Agreeing sources said that dozens of dead and more than a hundred injured were counted in the community hospital and in the friendship hospital, most of whom were civilians. Other bodies were found dispersed in the capital, especially on the Avenue des martyrs, in the Boganda high school, and in the police school.
While the coup de force attempted by Bozizé was controlled in the capital by the loyalist forces, President Patassé leaves the population to the atrocities committed by his private militia, commanded by Abdoulaye Miskine and by the Congolese troops of his ally, Bemba.
Several eye witness reports state that summary executions of civilians from Chad and Central Africa occurred in the cattle market in PK 13. These civilians were considered as accomplices of General Bozizé. The assassination of Colonel Zakatao, who was a loyalist, by the rebels of Bemba was also reported.
The LCDH also stated that systematic rapes occured, especially on minors, with some of the victims aged 8 years old. These rapes were committed in the Northern area of Bangui as far as the PK 22 on the road to Damara, particularly in the Yembe 1 area.
The insecurity is also fanned by the existence of pillaging. In the northern area of the capital it occurred in the following houses; those of Dr Christian Yangue, Mr François Pendeoro, Mr Robert Ngoki, Mr Fidèle Ngouanze, Mr Zane Fe Touambona, Mr Vincent Wakoro, Ms Roselyne Gotoas, Mr Gabriel Dotte Badekara, Mr Marcel Serekoisse Samba etc. The pillaging of the houses of two ministers of the Patassé government, Mr Ringui, Minister for Education, and Mrs. Betty Marace, Secretary General of the government, were also reported. This situation underlines the total lack of control of the State over the perpetrators of these acts.
The FIDH and the LCDH reiterate their condemnation of all attempts to take the power by force and urge the belligerent parties to end the armed confrontation and to start negotiations. The FIDH and the LCDH also request the withdrawal of all foreign troops on the Central African territory.
In order to establish the responsibilities in the human rights violations committed by both parties at stake during the coup de force, the FIDH and the LCDH urge for the establishment of an international investigative commission, which, unlike the investigative commission established in June 2001 following the attempted coup d'état by André Kolingba, will not lead in a repressive organ used by the authorities to multiply arrests and arbitrary detentions.
Considering the massive and systematic human rights violations committed against the civilian population in the capital and its surroundings, the FIDH and the LCDH request that all the authors of the crimes be judged by competent national jurisdictions and in accordance to the international standards of human rights protection. The FIDH and the LCDH consider in addition, that the atrocities committed since October 23, 2002 fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Statute of which was ratified by the Central African Republic on October 3, 2001. The FIDH and the LCDH will not fail to bring these accusations before competent authorities of the ICC.