Russian Mercenary Group Wagner Accused Of Human Rights Abuses In CAR  

Human Rights Watch has alleged Kremlin-linked mercenary security outfit, Wagner Group of committing human rights abuses in the Central African Republic.

In a report released by HRW on Tuesday, it said Wagner group battered and executed civilians in the country between January 2019 and November 2021.

HRW quoted reports from “Western governments as well as United Nations experts and special rapporteurs” and said many of the members of the Russian forces in the CAR are members of the Wagner Group.

The organisation said 21 people gave testified to being abused in physical meetings while 19 others gave their revelations on phone. The testimonies included 15 eyewitnesses who saw the Russian forces pummel locals.

“Witnesses said the men were wearing military-style weapons and khaki beige clothing, scarves to cover their faces, military boots, gloves and sunglasses,” Human Rights Watch said in its report. 

In another abuse believed to have happened in July 2021, the Russian-speaking forces were alleged of killing at least twelve unarmed men in Bossangoa.

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The report said in part that “There is also evidence that Russia-linked forces in the Central African Republic include a significant number of individuals from the Wagner Group and that they regularly engage in active combat. 

“In September 2021 eight UN experts, including the rapporteur of the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, said that since 2018 “there appears to [have] been an increasing presence of private military and security contractors with ties to … Russia … often referred to generically as the Wagner Group … in the Central African Republic” who were “deployed to almost all front lines” after December 2020.

“On November 12, 2021, French officials told the UN Security Council that “Wagner’s presence in the Central African Republic is deeply destabilizing.” Previously, in January 2019, the French foreign minister, Jean-Yves le Drian, had said that Russia-linked forces in the country were made up “in large part by Wagner” forces. Valery Zakharov, the Russian security adviser to President Touadéra at the time, denied that the Wagner Group operated in the country.”

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In a leaked report, the EU also stated that Wagner had achieved full involvement in the operations of the Russian forces.

Ida Sawyer, HRW’s Director of Crisis and Conflict Divisions said the evidences are compelling enough to show the involvements of Wagner in human rights abuse.

She said the “forces identified as Russian supporting the Central African government have committed serious abuses against civilians with total impunity”.

Sawyer added that the CAR’s failure “to denounce these abuses, to identify and to prosecute those responsible are likely to cause new crimes in Africa and beyond”,

CAR Denies Wagner Presence 

With Wagner accused of the same offences in Mali, the Central African Republic has denounced reports of similar involvements.

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The country’s authorities have said although Russian forces are present to help its military in dealing with an ongoing security crisis, it has no links with Wagner or any Russian private security company.

Henry-Marie Dondra, the former Prime Minister of the CAR and several officials in the current government have also denied there was ever a contract in place between Wagner and their country.


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