Status: 03/05/2022 12:18 p.m.
Russian mercenaries have allegedly committed serious human rights violations in the Central African Republic. Human Rights Watch calls for a criminal investigation. There is evidence of murder and torture.
The human rights organization Human Rights Watch claims to have “compelling evidence” that Russian mercenaries have killed civilians in the Central African Republic and committed other serious human rights violations. In a new report, Human Rights Watch accuses the fighters of extrajudicial executions and torture, among other things. Witnesses “identified them as Russians”.
For example, Russian-speaking men reportedly arrested twelve unarmed men near the capital Bangui last year and then shot them dead. “Detentions and torture by fighters with links to Russia” have also been documented for 2019. The attackers would have remained “completely unpunished”.
Reports: Wagner trains the army
Human Rights Watch, citing research by governments, UN experts and special rapporteurs, says Russian fighters include a “significant number” of Wagnerian mercenaries. According to media reports, more than 2,000 heavily armed Wagner soldiers are in the country training army units to fight the rebels.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Central African government “of course has the right” to ask for international support on security issues. However, it must not allow foreign fighters “to kill or mistreat civilians with impunity”. In order to show its respect for the rule of law, the Bangui government should “immediately open criminal investigations into the activists responsible for murders, wrongful arrests and torture”. The Human Rights Watch report says the Central African and Russian governments have not commented on the allegations.
Mercenaries would fight in 23 African countries
The EU had already expressed concern last year about the increase in the activities of the Wagner troupe, which is said to be active in at least 23 African countries. The militia is described by experts as Russia’s “shadow army” and has also been linked to operations in conflict countries such as Syria and, more recently, Ukraine.
The notorious group would have practically the reins of action in the country ravaged for years by the conflict, quote the media the supreme commander of the American forces in Africa, General Stephen Townsend. According to US reports, it is funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A bloody conflict has raged in the Central African Republic since the overthrow of President François Bozizé in 2013. The government still has large parts of the country out of control.