Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on opening a second investigation in the Central African Republic
Today, I am announcing that I have made the decision to open a second investigation in the Central African Republic (CAR) with respect to crimes allegedly committed since 2012. I was clear from the outset in firm, unequivocal and consistent public statements that attacks against civilians would not be tolerated and the perpetrators of such crimes could face justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The law is clear in this regard and today’s decision to proceed to the investigation phase is based on my legal obligations under the Court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute.
In February this year, following escalating violence in CAR, I opened a new preliminary examination to assess whether or not I could proceed with an investigation into what was a dire situation in CAR. The transitional government of CAR decided to refer the situation to my Office on 30 May 2014 requesting that I investigate alleged crimes falling within ICC jurisdiction committed in the country since 1 August 2012.
My Office has gathered and scrupulously analysed relevant information from multiple reliable sources. Based on this independent and comprehensive analysis, I have concluded that an investigation is warranted. The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that both the Séléka and the anti-balaka groups have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, rape, forced displacement, persecution, pillaging, attacks against humanitarian missions and the use of children under fifteen in combat. The list of atrocities is endless. I cannot ignore these alleged crimes.
The 30 May 2014 referral by the CAR authorities demonstrates a commitment to fight impunity for mass crimes and to bring justice to the victims. We look forward to their full cooperation as we conduct our investigation into these crimes.
My Office will now work to directly collect criminal evidence with a view to identifying and prosecuting those responsible for the most serious crimes. As always, our investigation will be conducted in an independent and impartial manner and will be led only by the evidence.
As the investigation moves forward, we will continue to record any new crime against civilians that might be committed in CAR. Mass crimes shock the conscience of humanity and tear at the social fabric of society. Let this be a message to would-be perpetrators in CAR and beyond: such crimes will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of the law.