Following the Central African Republic authorities’ transfer of a former Seleka armed group leader to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Alice Banens, Amnesty International Legal advisor said:
“The arrest and transfer of Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, who is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, is a positive step towards justice for victims of the armed conflict that raged in the country since 2012 until now.
“This the first time that a judicial proceeding has been brought against an ex-Seleka member for crimes under international law at a national or international court and sends a message to perpetrators of ongoing abuses that no one is above the law.
“There is still much more to be done though. The ICC, the Special Criminal Court in Bangui and the national ordinary courts must work together to ensure independent, impartial and effective investigations and prosecutions of all perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic.”
Mahamat Said Abdel Kani was surrendered to the ICC by the authorities of the Central African Republic on 24 January 2021. He is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Bangui in 2013, including torture, enforced disappearance and persecution.
The ICC, the UN-backed hybrid court, the Special Criminal Court and CAR ordinary criminal courts are competent to investigate and prosecute crimes under international law committed in CAR. Amnesty International published the report ‘On trial, these warlords lowered their eyes’ last October analysing justice efforts at the national level.