BANGUI – Engulfed by sectarian violence over the past six months, the government of civil war stricken Central African Republic has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate serious crimes of violence committed over a year of unrest.
"The intervention of the International Criminal Court appears to us indispensible in seeking the prosecution and conviction of those who have carried out the most serious of these crimes, which will not go unpunished," said Minister of Justice Isabelle Gaudeuille in a statement read of government radio cited by Agence France Presse (AFP) on Wednesday, June 11.
According to the release, the government lodged an official request with the ICC on May 30 "to investigate the situation that has been continuing in CAR since 1 August 2012".
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"CAR is confronted by cycles of violence and reprisals that never seem to stop. Unfortunately, our determination to get on with the task is greatly undermined," she said, adding that years of unrest and violence had left local courts unable to effectively carry out the investigations.
In May, a first team from the ICC went to Bangui as part of this examination, according to Ndeke Luka, an independent radio station supported by Fondation Hirondelle.
The visit followed the opening of a preliminary investigation last February 7 by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda into abuses committed between March 2013 and March 2014 last February 7.
CAR, a mineral-rich, landlocked country, descended into anarchy in March of last year when Seleka rebels ousted François Bozize, a Christian, who had come to power in a 2003 coup.
Over the past few months, CAR Muslims have been facing ethnic cleansing at the hands of anti-balaka Christian militias who raided Muslim homesm killing children and women, looting and vandalizing properties.
Inter-religious violence has claimed thousands of lives and displaced a million people in the population of 4.6 million, yet such clashes are unprecedented in the poor, landlocked country.
Moreover, more than 82,000 central African Muslims have fled to neighboring countries including Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Chad.
The death toll has also climbed to more than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, including women and children, the UN refugee agency stated in an earlier report.
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