Arrest Warrant Issued Against Central African Republic Ex-President

The special criminal court set up in the Central African Republic to try war crimes and human rights abuses on Tuesday issued an international arrest warrant for former President François Bozizé for alleged human rights abuses during his final years in power.

According to the Special Criminal Court spokesman Gervais Bodagy Laoulé, the warrant was for human rights abuses that were committed in a civilian prison and a military training center from 2009 to 2013 by security forces and members of the presidential guard while the now-exiled Bozizé was president.

Bozizé has been in exile in Guinea Bissau, a country without extradition laws.

Guinea Bissau President Umarro Sissoco Embaló said he had not received notice about the arrest warrant and reiterated that his country had no laws governing extradition.

Established in 2015 with international backing, the Special Criminal Court was set up in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, to try human rights abuses and war crimes cases stemming from the coups and violence that have plagued the country since 2003 when Bozizé first seized power.

The ex-president was ousted in 2013 in a coup led by the Muslim Seleka rebels. The coup prompted a sectarian civil war between the Seleka rebels and Christian militias that featured atrocities and human rights abuses, including the use of forced child soldiers.

The UN peacekeeping mission to the Central African Republic estimated that thousands have been killed in the fighting which displaced more than 20 percent of the population.

A peace deal was reached in 2019 between 14 armed militias and the government. However, fighting in the country has continued. More than a decade after the civil war began, there are still roughly 10,000 child soldiers fighting with armed militias in the Central African Republic.

Audrey Yamalé of the Association of Victims of the 2013 Crisis lauded the court’s arrest warrant against Bozizé and called on the government of Guinea Bissau to cooperate with the court and return the former president to Bangui.