After six decades of devastating conflict, the Central African Republic has embarked on a transitional justice process to end impunity and provide justice to victims. In cooperation with various stakeholders, ICTJ is supporting the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission and other accountability initiatives, and helping victims to participate in them and access justice.
Central African Republic
Background: A Profoundly Fragile Context Beset with Recurrent Violence
Since its independence in 1960, the Central African Republic (CAR) has grappled with instability and recurrent violence. Conflict reached a crescendo in 2013 when Séléka rebels seized power through a coup d’état and the Anti-balaka defense militias subsequently retaliated in the same year. All sides committed serious human rights violations, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, leaving thousands of victims searching for justice. A ceasefire agreement signed in 2014, followed by the 2015 Bangui Forum on National Reconciliation, led to the establishment of the Special Criminal Court to prosecute serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed in the country since January 1, 2003.
Nevertheless, violence continued, and several massacres occurred in 2017 and 2018. In an attempt to end the crisis, another peace agreement was signed between armed groups and the government in early 2019, followed by a national public consultation on the setting up of a truth commission. In 2020, the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission was created to investigate and uncover the truth about serious violations from 1959 until December 31, 2019, pursue justice for these crimes, reaffirm the dignity of victims, and achieve national reconciliation. A presidential decree on December 30, 2020, confirmed the selection of the commission’s 11 members.
Recurrent violence in CAR has weakened the state and its institutions, and most of the country remains under the control of armed groups. The state is unable to provide basic services, and the country is ranked among the poorest in the world. Hundreds of thousands of Central Africans are internally displaced, and most of the population has experienced human rights violations and have limited access to justice, especially those living outside of the capital. Gender inequality and sexual and gender-based violence are widespread.
Since 2019, ICTJ has worked with government institutions and civil society to strengthen the transitional justice process and help ensure victims meaningful participate in it. Activities include the following:
- ICTJ has advised and assisted the Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Reconciliation Commission since its establishment in 2020. In cooperation with our international partners in the country, notably UNDP, MINUSCA’s Human Rights Division, and UN Women, we are helping the commission to finalize its operationalization phase and develop important tools for its success (such as the general strategy, statement-taking forms, a victim-centered communication strategy, and so on) in addition to building staff members’ capacity.
- ICTJ provides support to victims and survivors on the rights to justice, truth, and reparations. ICTJ builds the capacity of victims’ groups and civil society organizations to meaningfully participate in the official ongoing transitional justice process and serve as a key ally to the Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Reconciliation Commission.
- In cooperation with our partners, we support victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and help them advocate for their rights and gain access to justice and reparations.
- Through our practice and research, we shed light on the importance of victims’ access to justice, and within the framework of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, especially Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on peace, justice, and inclusive societies, SDG 5 on gender equality, and SDG 10 on reducing inequalities.