Human Rights Watch accuses Russian mercenaries of torture in Central Africa

In the Central African Republic, Russian mercenaries allegedly committed crimes against civilians, including murder and torture. Once again, the Wagner group enters the scene.

The human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims to have “compelling evidence” that Russian mercenaries have killed civilians in the Central African Republic and committed other serious human rights violations. In a report released Tuesday, HRW accused fighters “who identified witnesses as Russians” of extrajudicial executions and torture, among other things. The perpetrators remained “completely unpunished”.

HRW, citing studies by governments, UN experts and special rapporteurs, says Russian forces in central Africa include a “significant number” of Wagner Group fighters. They support the Central African government of President Faustin Archange Touadéra in the conflict with rebel groups.

Russia’s ‘shadow army’ in Syria, Libya and Ukraine

Russian mercenaries fighting in Central Africa are often attributed to the Wagner group. The militia is described by experts as Russia’s “shadow army” and has also been linked to operations in countries in conflict such as Syria, Libya and, more recently, Ukraine.

According to HRW, on July 21 last year, Russian-speaking men arrested and then shot dead twelve unarmed men at a checkpoint near Bossangoa, northwest of the capital Bangui. “Detentions and torture by fighters with links to Russia” were also documented in 2019.

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