Special Criminal Court Arrests CAR Minister Bouba for War Crimes

Special Criminal Court Arrests CAR Minister Bouba for War Crimes (News Central TV)

The Special Criminal Court (SCC) in the Central African Republic has arrested and brought charges against a government minister for war crimes and crimes against humanity in an important step for justice.  A court order has requested a detention hearing for the minister, a former armed group leader, Hassan Bouba Ali, known as Hassan Bouba, will be held on tomorrow November 26, 2021.

Bouba’s charges come two months after another high-profile arrest by the SCC. Capt. Eugène Ngaïkosset, known within the country as “The Butcher of Paoua” – whose arrest was confirmed on September 4, is charged with crimes against humanity. Bouba was named a special councilor to the president in 2017 then named the minister of livestock and animal health in December 2020.

Before then, he was leader of the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (Unité pour la Paix en Centrafrique, UPC), a rebel group that emerged out of the fractured Seleka coalition.

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“The UPC is responsible for many serious crimes in the Central African Republic since 2014,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Bouba’s arrest sends a strong message that even the most powerful can find themselves subject to the reach of the law and gives hope to the many victims of UPC crimes that they may one day see justice.”

The UPC started committing serious abuses in the Ouaka province in 2014 before it split from the rebel Seleka faction. From 2014 to 2017, Human Rights Watch documented at least 246 civilians killed, dozens of cases of rape and sexual slavery, and 2,046 homes burned by the UPC in the Ouaka province. In 2017 the UPC started to expand into the Basse-Kotto and Mbomou provinces.

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In 2017, Human Rights Watch documented at least 188 civilians killed in the fight between the UPC and anti-balaka fighters in the Basse-Kotto province, the majority killed by the UPC. The cases Human Rights Watch documented involving the UPC are most likely only a fraction of the total.

Bouba was expelled from the rebel group in January, after a surge in violence in the country when a new rebellion, of which the UPC was a member, began in December 2020. He was arrested at his office on November 19.

The Special Criminal Court issued a news release on November 22, saying that Bouba had been arrested, but it does not include any details on the crimes against humanity and war crimes that are charged. Bouba is being held at a military camp outside of Bangui.

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The SCC is a novel court established to help limit widespread impunity for serious crimes in the Central African Republic. The court is staffed by both international and national judges and prosecutors, and benefits from international assistance.


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