Nairobi - Activist group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has raised the alarm over the murders of at least 18 people at the hands of peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) between December 2013 and June 2015.
In a statement, HRW said soldiers from the Republic of Congo, who had been sent to CAR as peacekeepers, had wreaked havoc in the area, enforcing disappearances and killing citizens in large numbers.
A grave found near Boali was exhumed on February 16, 2016, and revealed the bodies of 12 people who had allegedly been detained by peacekeepers on March 2014.
The discovery brought into question claims made by the peacekeepers that the detainees had escaped, with HRW documenting the torture and subsequent death of two anti-balaka leaders in Bossangoa in December 2013.
In addition, two more suspected anti-balaka were publicly executed in Mambéré in February 2014, while two civilians were allegedly beaten to death in Mambéré in June 2015 by Congolese peacekeepers, the statement said.
"The discovery of 12 bodies is damning evidence of an appalling crime by Congolese peacekeepers, who had been sent to protect people, not prey on them," said Lewis Mudge, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The responsibility of peacekeeping was handed over to the United Nations in September 2014, following which all existing Congolese peacekeepers were rotated out of CAR and replaced with new soldiers so that killings committed prior to this date did not become the burden of the UN.
Despite publishing numerous reports on murders and sexual exploitation committed at the hands of Congolese soldiers, the HRW confirmed that they had received no response from officials within the government of the Republic of Congo.
The HRW called on officials from the African Union, UN and judicial authorities from Congo and CAR to ensure that those responsible for committing crimes against humanity were held accountable and that they received the full wrath of the law.
“Simply rotating troops out of the Central African Republic with no further consequences sends the message that peacekeepers can get away with murder,” Mudge said.
“No peacekeeper should be above the law.”