Monday, February 23, 2015
There has been much discussion in recent weeks over the possibility of a new international criminal court for the Central African Republic (CAR) to address war crimes committed during internal armed conflict there beginning in 2012. Last month, the United Nations International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic called for the establishment of a new international criminal tribunal which would be charged with the investigation and prosecution of war crimes in the CAR since January 2, 2012. Human Rights Watch and other organizations are joining their voices in calling for the establishment of a special tribunal as well.
The UN International Commission of Inquiry emphasized that the judges should come from other countries so that they are objective and independent. However, a draft law negotiated between the UN and the CAR now under consideration by the transitional parliament in the CAR would establish a Special Criminal Court with mixed membership, with approximately half the judges coming from other countries and the other half of the judges coming from the CAR.
The work of the Special Criminal Court, if created, would complement the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which already has been investigating allegations of war crimes in the CAR since 2012. The ICC would handle the most serious international crimes, leaving the remaining prosecutions to the Special Criminal Court.
A major stumbling block is that no country has offered to fund the creation of such a tribunal, and the CAR does not have the resources to do so itself. Advocacy organizations are calling on the international community and especially the Central African Republic to fund the tribunal.