Central African Republic: “By liberating Hassan Bouba, power is destroying what it itself has built”

Tribune. On November 19, Hassan Bouba was arrested and provisionally imprisoned after months of investigation, accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Former rebel leader turned Minister of Livestock of the Central African Republic, Hassan Bouba Ali is suspected of being responsible for the attack on a camp for displaced people in November 2018 in Alindao, 500 km east of Bangui, which resulted in the deaths of at least 112 villagers, including 19 children.

Having requested a delay to prepare his defense, he was to be presented to a magistrate seven days later. But nothing went as planned: on November 26, the presidential guard prevented access to the detention center, then Hassan Bouba was escorted to his home, in contradiction with the injunctions of the Special Criminal Court (CPS) , a court composed of Central African and international magistrates and responsible for judging in Bangui the atrocities committed since 2003.

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Height of absurdity, Hassan Bouba was decorated three days later as Knight of the Order of Merit by President Faustin-Archange Touadéra.

We, activists and justice actors, are stunned by the organized escape of Hassan Bouba outside of any procedural framework.

Words betrayed by deeds

Vast popular consultation organized in 2015, at the end of the 2013 conflict, and bringing together all the actors of society, the Bangui forum had established the fight against impunity as a cornerstone of reconciliation. Restructuring of criminal courts, the establishment of the CPS, the creation of a Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the referral, from 2014, to the International Criminal Court are all tools aimed at punishing the perpetrators of crimes serious and to restore confidence between the people and the institutions.

On September 21, 2021, the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, at the United Nations General Assembly supported determined action aimed at punishing the perpetrators of serious human rights violations. Affirming one’s will to fight against impunity has no value, however, if words are betrayed by deeds. The organized escape of a warlord pursued by a jurisdiction of his own country prevents us from having confidence in institutions which see themselves stripped of their fundamental attributes.

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In a country marked by decades of judicial, social and economic inequality and strewn with violence, this misuse is also a message of rejection sent to the international community. How can the Central African Republic claim to be mobilized in the fight against impunity if, when the CPS carries out its mandate by attacking those most responsible for the massacres, political power destroys it?

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Central African Republic: “By liberating Hassan Bouba, power is destroying what it itself has built”