(Nov. 2, 2007) On October 18, 2007, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Central African Republic (CAR) concluded an agreement on cooperation, including provisions on protection by the CAR government for court officials. The ICC staff members will be investigating whether war crimes have taken place in the CAR since 2002. The document was signed by Bruno Cathala, the ICCC registrar, and Thierry Maleyombo, the Justice Minister of the CAR.
The ICC will be opening a field office in the CAR capital city, Bangui, in response to a request from the CAR for an investigation. The agreement's provisions cover the operations of teams from the ICC, which will include investigators, security officials, and witness protection officers. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has said that his office believes that during the years 2002 and 2003, "grave crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the Court were committed." The crimes against civilians in those years are said to include murder, rape, and looting, at a time when there was armed conflict between the government and rebel forces. Moreno-Ocampo further said that sexual assaults are thought to have outnumbered killings in the period, as rape was a widespread problem during the conflict. The ICC will also be monitoring the current situation in the CAR. (International Criminal Court Signs Protocol Deal with Central African Republic, UN News, Oct. 19, 2007.)