Maintenance. We are currently updating the site. Please check back shortly

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Inform - Connect - Empower

U.N. points to Chadian collusion in C.African Republic killings

Source: Reuters - Tue, 14 Jan 2014 14:18 GMT
Author: Reuters
hum-war
Soldiers from the international peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) keep guard at the end of a speech by the Central African transitional parliament chief (CNT) Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, acting as Central African Republic's interim president, to former members of the Central African Army Forces (FARCA), who were ousted when rebels took power on March 2013, in Bangui, C. African Republic, January 14, 2014. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Email Print
Leave us a comment

* Witnesses say Chadians among Muslim fighters-U.N. team

* French tactics made some disarmed fighters vulnerable

By Tom Miles

GENEVA, Jan 14 (Reuters) - A U.N. human rights team has gathered testimony that Chadian citizens, including peacekeepers, carried out mass killings during chaotic violence in Central African Republic, the U.N. human rights office said on Tuesday.

The team also found that French peacekeepers' disarming of some Muslim fighters had the unintended side-effect of enabling their Christian enemies to kill them and their families in retaliatory attacks. French tactics subsequently changed.

U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said the evidence showed that intercommunal hatred had risen to "extraordinarily vicious levels". Neighbouring Chad has denied helping the Muslim fighters.

A Muslim rebel coalition, Séléka, seized power in Central African Republic last March, unleashing a wave of killings and looting that in turn sparked revenge attacks by the "anti-balaka" Christian militia.

The Séléka leader-turned-president Michel Djotodia resigned last Friday under intense international pressure, but sporadic violence has continued, despite the presence of 1,600 French troops and 4,000 African Union peacekeepers.

The crisis has sent food prices soaring, leaving many households down to one meal a day and 2.6 million people in need of U.N. humanitarian assistance, the U.N. World Food Programme said in a separate report on Tuesday.

The four-person U.N. human rights mission carried out 183 interviews between Dec. 12 and Dec. 24, mainly collecting testimony on a wave of violence since Dec. 5, including summary executions, sexual violence, torture, disappearances, looting and burning of churches and mosques.

"Numerous interviewees identified the ex-Séléka perpetrators as being Chadian nationals," their report said.

"Witnesses consistently reported that ex-Séléka wearing the armbands of Chadian FOMAC (peacekeepers) went from house to house searching for anti-Balaka, and shot and killed civilians, including children, women, elderly and disabled civilians."

The team also heard multiple accounts of collusion between FOMAC and ex-Séléka forces.

One source reported that ex-Séléka, jointly with Chadian FOMAC, on Dec. 5 went "door-to-door looking for anti-Balaka and indiscriminately killing at least 11 people, including elderly women, sick persons, and persons with mental disabilities."

The team's report is the first batch of evidence collected by the United Nations, which is setting up a formal Commission of Inquiry to collect and investigate human rights abuses, and is a first step towards potential prosecutions.

The country's new interim leader Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet ordered his troops to shoot troublemakers "at point blank range" on Monday, but U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay warned in a statement that the government must not commit further breaches of international human rights law.

FRENCH TACTICS

The U.N. team also received reports that French disarmament of ex-Séléka forces left Muslim communities vulnerable.

Colville, the U.N. human rights spokesman, defended the French peacekeepers.

"They were obviously trying to disarm armed men, which was a good thing. There were anti-balaka elements or even civilians who took advantage of that to attack and kill people who had been disarmed, or their dependants.

"So I think obviously it wasn't foreseen but I believe the tactics have changed since it became apparent that that was happening."

The U.N. human rights committee will hold a special session to debate the situation in Central African Republic next Monday and is also likely to appoint a dedicated investigator. 

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus
Related Spotlights
RELATED CONTENT
Related Content
Most Popular
TOPICAL CONTENT
Topical content
LATEST SLIDESHOW

Latest slideshow

See allSee all
FEATURED JOBS
Featured jobs