The establishment of the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in the Central African Republic is a significant, unprecedented initiative to deliver justice for victims of brutal crimes committed during conflicts there since 2003. The court, established by law in 2015, is integrated into the Central African Republic’s domestic judicial system, but staffed by both international and Central African judges, prosecutors, and administrators.
Together with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has two investigations into crimes committed in the country, the SCC is a significant opportunity to end the widespread impunity that victims of the cycles of violence in the Central African Republic have faced. By delivering justice at a national level, the SCC offers a chance to increase the resonance of trials with victims and others most affected by the crimes, and to bolster domestic ownership and capacity in the delivery of justice for atrocity crimes. The SCC may also serve as a potential model for other countries that are seeking to pursue justice for international crimes in their national systems.
While creating an avenue for justice for the gravest crimes cannot solve the full range of complex problems the Central African Republic faces, experience suggests that continued abuses are being fueled by lack of accountability. By contrast, fair, credible trials of grave crimes can build respect for the rule of law, contributing to long-term stability, in combination with other factors.
This report discusses the progress, obstacles, and challenges for the SCC in its initial phases to date. It is not intended to provide a conclusive assessment of the court, but offers observations on the current stage of its development. The report updates developments at the court since the Human Rights Watch July 2017 report, Killing Without Consequence: War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and the Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic.
Report by the Human Rights Watch
“Looking for Justice” – The Special Criminal Court, a New Opportunity for Victims in the Central African Republic0.40 MB