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Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR) government referred itself to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 22 December 2004. This was the third self-referral by an ICC state party, following Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The ICC prosecutor’s investigation opened on 22 May 2007.

Former DRC vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is currently facing trial at the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed by troops under his control in the CAR. The crimes are alleged to have been committed in 2002/03 after Bemba’s mitilia group, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, had been invited by the then CAR president, Ange-Félix Patassé, to help put down a coup attempt.

The Bemba trial opened on 22 November 2010. In November 2013, the defense concluded the presentation of its case. A judgment is pending.

For more information:
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Archive of trial summaries

Opening of the investigation
On 7 January 2005, the prosecutor received a letter from the CAR government referring the “situation of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed anywhere on the territory of the Central African Republic since 1 July 2002….” The prosecutor subsequently announced that he was carrying out a preliminary examination in order to determine whether to initiate an investigation.

In a decision of 11 April 2006, the CAR Cour de Cassation (the country’s highest criminal court) partly rejected an appeal against a decision of the Bangui Court of Appeal of 16 December 2004, which held that only the ICC was able to try the most serious crimes committed in the CAR since 1 July 2002. The Cour de Cassation held that the CAR justice system was unable to carry out effective investigations and prosecutions. The ICC Office of the Prosecutor had previously stated that it was waiting for the decision of the Cour de Cassation to decide whether to open an investigation in CAR, on the basis of the complementarity principle contained in the Rome Statute.

On 22 May 2007, the prosecutor announced the opening of the investigation into grave crimes allegedly committed in the CAR, with the peak of violence occurring in 2002 and 2003. The prosecutor’s announcement highlighted in particular sexual violence, referring to hundreds of victims telling of rapes and other abuses committed “with particular cruelty.” The prosecutor also explained that this was the first time he was “opening an investigation in which allegations of sexual crimes far outnumber alleged killings.”

Concern for civilians following Seleka coup in 2013

In March 2013, an alliance of rebels, known as Seleka, staged coup in the CAR, ousting President François Bozizé. The ICC prosecutor, the UN Security Council, the European Union and Coalition members have repeatedly expressed concern at violence being committed against civilians amid widespread lawlessness that has followed the coup. The prosecutor has also stated that she will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute all those alleged to have committed grave crimes.

Meanwhile, the Trust Fund for Victims also announced the suspension of its activities in the country until further notice. The Fund had been set to launch victims’ assistance programs for victims who have suffered harm linked to the commission of crimes under the ICC jurisdiction in the country, particularly with victims of sexual and gender based violence.
Audio Visual Resources
Conference Reports and Declarations
NGO Media Statements
Authordescending Date and Title
Women’s Initiatives
22 May 2007
Investigation of Rape and Sexual Violence in CAR
Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice
22 Nov 2010
CICC Press briefing on the opening of the Bemba trial: Statement by Brigid Inder, Executive Director, Women’s Initiatives
Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice
11 Jan 2013
Statement from civil society in the Central African Republic
Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice
11 Apr 2013
Civil society statement on situation in the CAR
WITNESS and Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice
30 May 2012
WITNESS, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice and JUPEDEC’s new documentary exposes LRA’s gender-based crimes in the Central African Republic
26 May 2008
30 May 2008
Press Statement on Bemba’s Arrest