Human Rights Watch accuses Russian Wagner Group mercenaries of killing and torturing civilians

Human Rights Watch accuses Russian Wagner Group mercenaries of killing and torturing civilians

From ” convincing evidence “ demonstrate that Russian paramilitaries supporting the power in the Central African Republic have committed “serious abuse” on civilians, including murder and torture, “with impunity” since 2019, estimates Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report published Tuesday, May 3.

This country, one of the poorest in the world, has been the scene since 2013 of a very deadly civil war at the start but which has considerably decreased in intensity since 2018. President Faustin Archange Touadéra, however, called on Moscow at the end of 2020 to rescue of a weak and destitute army to repel a rebel offensive which threatened Bangui and the regime.

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Hundreds of Russian paramilitaries – “mercenaries” of the private security company Wagner, according to the UN and Western capitals – were sent to reinforce hundreds of others who had already supported the regime since 2018. Thanks to them, armed groups, rebels or simple predators, have been repelled by a majority of two-thirds of the territory they still occupied in 2020.

“Obvious links with Moscow”

But the UN, the European Union and countries, such as France in particular, accuse the “mercenaries” of Wagner to commit crimes and abuses against civilians, and the power of Mr. Touadéra to let them plunder the country’s resources in exchange for their military support. “Compelling evidence shows that forces identified as Russian supporting the Central African government have committed serious abuses against civilians with complete impunity”sums up Ida Sawyer, director of the Crisis and Conflict Division at HRW, at the conclusion of a thirteen-page report based in particular on the testimonies of dozens of victims, relatives and witnesses.

“Forces identified by witnesses as Russian appear to have summarily executed, tortured and beaten civilians since 2019”denounces HRW. “The Central African government has the right to request international security assistance, but it cannot allow foreign forces to kill and abuse civilians with impunity”, accuses Ms. Sawyer. The report clearly establishes a link – drawing on “evidence” advanced by Western governments and UN experts – between these “Russian forces” and Wagner, who, according to him, “clear links with the Russian government”.

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HRW details in particular the execution by “Russian speaking men” of twelve men “unarmed” stopped at a roadblock, “beaten” then “shot down” shot in the head on July 21, 2021 near Bossangoa, 300 km northwest of Bangui. The report also mentions “arbitrary detentions, torture and extra-judicial executions” suspected in Alindao (center) in June 2021, on “men arrested randomly in the street”.

Asked by HRW on the accusations of the report, neither the Central African government nor the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded, according to the NGO. Moscow consistently asserts that Russian paramilitaries are “unarmed military instructors” responsible for training Central African soldiers.

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The World with AFP