International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Special Criminal Court for the Central African Republic: A fight against impunity

The Central African Republic interim government along with the United Nations drafted a law that calls for the establishment of a Special Criminal Court. The article found on the Human Rights Watch website explains how this court would speed up justice for the victims of atrocity in the country. The court is to be made up of a combination of Central African judges and prosecutors along with international judges and prosecutors. The court’s mandate is to investigate and prosecute the most serious crimes in the Central African Republic committed since January 1st, 2012. This clear mandate establishment is very similar to that of the Special Court Sierra Leone and this gives me hope since this was one of SCSL large successes. Also similar to SCSL, the funding for this special court is looking very promising since it is backed by the UN. The article also explains how by establishing this hybrid court the international community will strengthen the national judiciary capacity while also ending impunity fairly and efficiently. Although the ICC is prosecuting those most responsible for serious international crimes, this specialized court will complement the work of the ICC by investigating and prosecuting many others for serious human rights violations. In addressing the crimes committed by the smaller figures as well, I believe this makes large strides towards justice and peace. As we discussed in class it is hard for the ICC to investigate and prosecute everyone responsible for the atrocities committed in certain countries however if the country also makes an effort and targets other smaller perpetrators of atrocity crimes it will ,in my opinion, create an added deterrence towards committing these crimes no matter how small the role is in committing said crime. In investigating and prosecuting these perpetrators the Central African Republic will be making a conscious effort to end impunity thus stabilizing the chaos in the country.

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2 responses to “Special Criminal Court for the Central African Republic: A fight against impunity

  1. mcurle15 February 22, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Discussion amongst The Central African Republic and the United Nations about a draft law establishing a Special Criminal Court would definitely aid Africa in the fight against impunity. As touched upon by Jess, the court will be made up of 27 judges—14 national and 13 international. The ICC doesn’t have it’s own police force, so it relies on states ability to arrest, access information, and investigate atrocity cases. If the Special Criminal Court is established, the healthy combination of domestic and international judges and prosecutors will be able to speed up the justice that victim’s deserve due to the fact that domestic authorities will be legally obligated to prosecute perpetrators of atrocities. Domestic governments will no longer be able to legally provide refuge for active groups that perform crimes against humanity, rather a widespread condemnation of these groups will be promoted, which again fights against impunity. Often times, atrocity crimes completely deplete resources in the affected region and the safety/security for officials, civilians, and a victim to come forward to help aid justice isn’t necessarily stable. By having the support of the UN, funding, safety, and the lack of resources doesn’t put a limit on the justice trying to be achieved in the Central African judicial system. The support provides more of a backbone to the Special Criminal Court that can prosecute those most responsible for crimes violating human rights. I think that the establishment of the Special Criminal Court will limit the politicization of justice by reinforcing the fact that law and justice are supposed to be two different identities. The Court will no longer allow governments to evade investigative efforts, but rather crack down on the impunity given to political officials that are responsible for these crimes. Similar to Jess, I believe that the establishment of the Special Criminal Court will provide deterrence for individuals committing crimes that violate human rights because the court would be backed by a major power. Impunity will be decreased especially for high-level perpetrators that are most responsible for atrocity crimes. But also…witness protection, evidence collection, funding, etc. doesn’t limit the ability to crack down on any perpetrator, no matter the position. I also believe that the Court, since it is represented both domestically and internationally will be more impartial to the sentences, which therefore leads to a smoother transition into reconciliation and repair for the former suffering country.

    http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/02/20/why-special-criminal-court-central-african-republic-deserves-your-support

  2. krissylik February 24, 2015 at 12:43 am

    This Special Criminal Court is no doubt a step in the direction and has the opportunity to make a measurable difference in a region so often plagued with human rights violations. I think it is important to note that this Special Criminal Court will only deliver life in prison as a maximum sentence. There will be no death penalty. I think for CAR especially this is an important decision because it establishes the idea of serving justice without taking life. CAR has otherwise made clear its rejection of the death penalty; it has not been practiced since 1981 and CAR voted in favor of the UN General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium of the death penalty.
    I think it will be interesting to see how this new addition to the CAR’s judicial system will interact with the ICC. In these preliminary stages it is expected that the two judicial bodies will work together to tackle the high-level perpetrators as well as lower level criminals. However, since the ICC is a “last resort” I wonder if the success of the Special Criminal Court could push the ICC out of the picture.

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