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Central African Republic: ICC Prosecutor warns against election-related violence, atrocity crimes

23 December 2015 – As the Central African Republic (CAR) prepares for general elections, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said today that her Office will record any instance of violence and that anyone committing atrocity crimes will be held accountable.

The polls are set to open on 27 December for the people of CAR to elect a President and representatives of the National Assembly. This follows the Constitutional referendum held earlier this month and is part of the ongoing process to complete the transition in the country after more than two years of fighting between the mainly Muslim Séléka and mainly Christian anti-Balaka groups.

In a statement issued today, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda noted that the Constitutional referendum had benefited from strong participation despite a volatile security situation.

At the same time, she "observed with concern reported incidents of violence and threats in an effort to intimidate and obstruct people from voting," adding that such violence may lead to crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the ICC, and must stop.

"I want to be clear: my Office will continue to closely follow developments in CAR in the coming period and record any instance of violence or incitement to violence. Those who incite or commit atrocity crimes will be held accountable either by the relevant national authorities in CAR or at the ICC," she stated.

In September 2014, following a referral by the CAR authorities, Ms. Bensouda announced her Office's second investigation into crimes committed in the country.

"This investigation is ongoing; my Office continues to collect evidence, with a view to requesting warrants of arrest as soon as possible against those responsible for grave crimes committed since 1 August 2012, with no end date," she said.

"The process of gathering evidence against any person who incites or engages in acts of mass violence before, during and after the elections is continuing. Such acts are serious crimes, which the ICC has jurisdiction to deal with."

In addition to the two investigations related to the situation in CAR, the Court, which is based in The Hague, is also looking into the situations in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Darfur region of Sudan, Kenya, Libya, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali.

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