Statement: 7 February 2014

Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on opening a new Preliminary Examination in Central African Republic

Over the past months, I have issued a number of public statements urging all groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) engaged in the on-going conflict to immediately cease the violence, and warning them that those alleged to be committing heinous crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) could be held individually accountable.

The plight of civilians in CAR since September 2012 has gone from bad to worse.  My Office has reviewed many reports detailing acts of extreme brutality by various groups and allegations of serious crimes being committed, which possibly fall within the ambit of the jurisdiction of the ICC. The information concerning these alleged crimes and the profound human suffering they cause is deeply concerning.

The allegations include hundreds of killings, acts of rape and sexual slavery, destruction of property, pillaging, torture, forced displacement and recruitment and use of children in hostilities.  In many incidents, victims appear to have been deliberately targeted on religious grounds. 

Following my Office’s analysis of the jurisdictional parameters regarding the situation in CAR since September 2012, I have concluded that these incidents and the serious allegations of crimes potentially falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC constitute a new situation, unrelated to the situation previously referred to the ICC by the CAR authorities in December 2004. I have therefore decided to open a Preliminary Examination into this new situation.

Henceforth, my Office’s further efforts will be aimed at gathering and analysing all the information necessary to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into this new situation. My Office’s efforts will be coordinated with those of the African Union and the United Nations in CAR. In conformity with the complementarity principle, my Office will also be engaging with the CAR authorities with a view to discussing ways and means to bring perpetrators to account, including at the national level.

CAR is a State Party to the Rome Statute, and as such, the ICC has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on the territory or by nationals of CAR since 1 July 2002.

For further information, please contact [email protected].

Source: Office of the Prosecutor | Contact: [email protected]