The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Security Group of torturing and murdering civilians in the Central African Republic.
“Convincing proofs show that Russian paramilitary elements supporting the regime in the Central African Republic have committed serious abuses on civilians involving murders and torture with impunity since 2019,” Human Rights Watch said in a report published on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.
The Central African Republic has since 2013 been the theatre of a civil war. In 2020, President Faustin Archange Touadera called for military assistance from Russia, which helped save his regime from being toppled by the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC).
Since then, Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Security Group have been called to reinforce hundreds of other Russian forces that had been supporting the Touadera regime since 2018.
The combined forces have succeeded in pushing armed groups from two thirds of the national territory that they occupied before the arrival of the Russians.
However, the United Nations, the European Union, and some countries such as France, have been accusing the Russian mercenaries of committing serious crimes and exactions against civilians but the Touadera regime has not done anything to check their excesses.
“Convincing proofs show that forces identified as Russians supporting the Central African Republic government have committed serious abuses against civilians in total impunity,”said Ida Sawyer, Director of Crises and Conflicts Division of HRW in the conclusion of the 13-page report based notably on eyewitness accounts of tens of victims and close relatives of victims.
The report said forces identified by witnesses as being Russians seemed to have summarily executed, tortured and killed civilians since 2019.
“The Central African Republic government surely has the right to ask for international assistance by way of security material, but it cannot permit foreign forces to kill and maltreat civilians in all impunity,” Sawyer said.
The report established a link, based on proofs presented by western governments and UN experts, between the Russian forces and Wagner, which according to the report, have solid links with the Russian government.
Human Rights Watch detailed the execution by “men speaking Russian ” of 12 unarmed men arrested at a roadblock on July 21, 2021 near Bossangoa, 300 kilometres to the northwest of Bangui.
The report also captured “arbitrary detentions, torture and extra-judicial executions in Alindao of men arrested indiscriminately in the streets in June 2021”.
Contacted by Human Rights Watch on the report, neither the Central African Republic government, nor the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the accusations.
Russia has been insisting that the Russian paramilitary personnel in the Central African Republic are “unarmed military instructors charged with training Central African Republic soldiers”.
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