Central African Republic: FIDH condemns General Bozizé's military Coup and calls for respect of international humanitarian law

Central African Republic
Paris, 17 March 2003 - The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) strongly condemns the coup d'état by General François Bozizé's military coup of 15 March 2003.

The FIDH reiterates its unwavering support for the principles of democracy and firmly condemns violent access to power.

Having taken note of the radical measures of suspension of the rule of law announced by the authors of the Coup, the FIDH urges the new de facto authorities to re-establish the constitutional legality at once.

The FIDH strongly denounces the very serious violence that accompanies this latest show of force, in particular the systematic pillage under way. In this regard, the FIDH underlines the responsibility of, not only the General Bozize military forces, but of all forces that participated in destabilising the Central African Republic (CAR).

The FIDH calls upon mercenaries and all foreign forces involved in the latest events to leave the CAR at once.

The FIDH urges the new de facto authorities and all forces in CAR to strictly respect the fundamental standards of international humanitarian law and human rights instruments, especially the 1949 Geneva Convention. The FIDH reminds them of their obligation, particularly, to protect civilian populations under all circumstances.

The FIDH finally points out that the CAR ratified the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and that therefore all authors, whatever their official position, of international crimes committed on the CAR territory after the 1st July 2002 can be found individually responsible.

The FIDH recalls that, on 13 February 2003, it officially lodged a complaint with the International Criminal Court regarding war crimes perpetrated as part of the preceding attempt by General Bozizé to overthrow the government in Autumn 2002. In the report, "War Crimes in Central African Reppublic" on these events , published in February 2003, the FIDH emphasised that the battle waged in the capital city between 25 and 31 October 2002 by the troops of General Bozizé amount to "acts which are prohibited by the Article 8 of the Rome Statute and by Article 3 of the various 1949 Geneva Conventions and other laws and customs applicable to internal conflict - such as murders and attacks on physical integrity and life -".

FIDH will keep the ICC duly informed of the evolution of the situation.