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CAR: New disarmament accord must support drive for justice

The disarmament agreement between rival armed groups and the government in the Central African Republic (CAR) must support efforts to ensure justice for crimes under international law and must not allow impunity, Amnesty International said Monday.

Towards the end of a national forum yesterday, 10 rival armed groups signed a deal with the transitional authorities to lay down their arms and enter in a process of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation.

“If this deal is serious and accompanied by measures to hold accountable those suspected of crimes under international law, it could be an opportunity to move away from a conflict that has seen massive violations of human rights and cost thousands of lives,” said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

“The agreement to disarm, demobilize, reintegrate and repatriate fighters in the conflict should be part of a bigger plan to ensure justice alongside peace. While supporting combatants to turn away from violence, it will be important to follow through on the promise that those suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity should be brought before the courts, otherwise sustained peace will be an illusion.”

Before it started, Amnesty International also warned in a letter to the transitional authorities that a proposed new Constitution should leave no space for impunity and instead should put justice at the heart of the reconciliation process.

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