from the PK5 area in Bangui, Central African Republic under the protection of French troops and members of the Multinational Force of Central Africa. (Feb 2014)
Rex Features via AP Images
Discussions are currently underway to bring to an end the year-long strife and fighting that has beset the Central African Republic. The hopes is that a peace settlement will be agreed upon and the country will be able to regain stability. So far, things have not gotten off to a good start. The talks were canceled today after the ex-rebel Seleka group was a no show. Moving forward on suspending fighting and disarming fighters are now on hold.
One concern going into the talks is over whether the people who committed some of the most heinous crimes will be given a pass as a part of the deal. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights watch say that such an amnesty should not be available to persons that committed serious crimes.
“Mediators and participants at the Brazzaville forum need to keep the thousands of victims in the Central African Republic and their desire for justice at the top of the agenda,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a public statement. “Amnesty for those most responsible for crimes against humanity and other heinous crimes is simply not an option.”
A day later, Amnesty International released its own statement calling for no amnesties for war crimes.
“The Brazzaville peace talks must ensure that accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes under international law are at the heart of any discussion to bring peace in CAR. Individuals suspected of these crimes must not be allowed to use these peace talked to secure positions in the government that they may use to enjoy impunity,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director, Research and Advocacy.
George Clooney, who has praised the Stop Kony campaign aimed at ridding east-central Africa of warlord Joseph Kony, is trying to make sure our focus on such efforts isn’t too singular.
The actor and human rights advocate has long been focused on the ongoing atrocities in Sudan and recently testified in Congress to draw attention to the killings, conflict and suffering. He recently snuck into a dangerous part of the country and produced this powerful, disturbing video.
While there’s no denying the criminality and terrible legacy of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, Kony’s ability to inflict death and destruction is fairly limited these days. Clooney’s efforts in southern Sudan should serve as a reminder that there are many fronts in the war on those who commit crimes against humanity.
Over the last few days, a video posted on YouTube that aims to raise the profile — and potential for arrest — of the infamous African warlord Joseph Kony has been hugely popular and, in the eyes of many, so simplistic and inaccurate it is likely to do much more harm than good.
The non-profit organization has been accused of spending the vast majority of its donations on film production, staff salaries and transport.
You can judge for yourself. Here’s the video, a powerful and well-done short (half hour) film calling for a groundswell, grassroots movement to push for the arrest of Kony and stop the decades of terror fomented by his Lord’s Resistance Army in east and central Africa:
It’s very compelling, but it has also prompted a major backlash from many experts on Africa, conflict resolution, development and foreign policy. Continue reading →