Central African Republic: Special criminal court charges sanctioned commander

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The Special Criminal Court (SCC) in the Central African Republic, in an important step for justice, has brought charges against Capt. Eugène Ngaïkosset, known within the country as “The Butcher of Paoua,” Human Rights Watch said.

His arrest was confirmed on September 4, 2021. On September 10 the SCC announced that it had charged Ngaïkosset with crimes against humanity, but did not specify details of the charges. Ngaïkosset is a former captain in the presidential guard who led a unit that is implicated in numerous crimes, including the killing of at least dozens of civilians and the burning of thousands of homes in the country’s northwest and northeast between 2005 and 2007. He is also alleged to have committed crimes as a leader of the anti-balaka movement, including in the capital, Bangui, in 2015. It is not known if the charges against him relate to any or all of these events.

“The little accountability for the types of crimes for which Ngaïkosset is charged underscores how impunity has long driven violence in the Central African Republic,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Many people across the country, including victims of the crimes and their family members, will follow Ngaïkosset’s case very closely. Fair, effective proceedings could mark a turning point for justice.”

Ngaïkosset’s arrest comes amid a surge in violence in the Central African Republic since a new rebellion began in December 2020, putting at risk a fragile peace deal signed between the government and several armed groups in February 2019.

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