Russian mercenaries “summarily executed, tortured, and beaten [sic] civilians” in Central African Republic (CAR) since 2019, according to a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on May 3.
“There is compelling evidence that Russian-identified forces supporting the Central African Republic’s government have committed grave abuses against civilians with complete impunity,” HRW Crisis and Conflict Director Ida Sawyer said.
According to HRW, several Western governments and United Nations (UN) experts have obtained evidence that Russian-linked forces operating in CAR included members of the Wagner Group, a Russian private military contractor linked to the Russian government.
Witnesses told HRW that Russian-speaking men shot dead 12 unarmed men near the western town of Bossangoa on July 21, 2021.
The witnesses also told the New York-based rights group of arbitrary detentions, tortures, and summary killings of men randomly arrested in the central town of Alindao in June 2021.
HRW also documented cases of detention and torture by Russia-linked troops in Bambari in 2019.
HRW urged national authorities in CAR, the country’s Special Criminal Court, or the International Criminal Court to investigate the incidents and abuse allegations by Russia-linked troops “with a view to criminal prosecution.”
“The failure of the Central African Republic government and its partners to forcefully denounce these abuses, and to identify and prosecute those responsible, will most likely only fuel further crimes in Africa and beyond,” Sawyer said.
Russian paramilitary forces have been deployed in CAR after CAR President Faustin Archange Touadera sought for their help to push back rebels in the country embroiled in a civil war since 2013.
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