The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) recently supported the return of remains of victims of alleged atrocity crimes in the Central African Republic, as part of a ceremony held in Bangui. The remains had been recovered during recent exhumations in the country which had been undertaken through collaboration between the OTP, national authorities, and international partners.

The Office of the Prosecutor has been conducting exhumation and forensic examination activities in relation to a number of alleged victims, as part of OTP’s investigations into crimes committed in CAR during the 2013 conflict. This activity has been possible thanks to partnership with the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team and Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic.

This work has encompassed the deployment of over 20 technical experts to CAR, including archaeologists, pathologists, odontologists, anthropologists, ballistic experts and morgue technicians.

ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC underlined: “The return of human remains to families represents a crucial step in the process of human identification and is a tangible outcome of delivering justice. Families and communities have a fundamental right to know the fate and whereabouts of their missing loved ones. I hope that the ceremony, which included a dignified burial and commemoration conducted in accordance with local customs, provided families with an opportunity for  closure and peace. I would like to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to all those bereaved.”

The provision of support with respect to the identification and return of remains of victims forms part of a broader range of assistance that the Office is seeking to provide to CAR authorities, including the Special Criminal Court established to address the legacy of alleged international crimes committed in the country.

The Office expresses its gratitude to these partners, as well as the national and local CAR authorities, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), and other partners who facilitated this work.