Over several months, The Sentry has worked closely with CNN on a confidential investigation, obtaining testimony and documents implicating Russian mercenaries connected to the Wagner Group, a shadowy Kremlin-linked defense and security firm sanctioned by the US, in mass atrocities committed against civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The investigative report that first aired on CNN on Monday, June 14, now available on YouTube, along with an article published on CNN.com, details evidence of mass killings, extrajudicial executions, torture, pillage, kidnapping for ransom, the burning of villages, and mass rapes. The investigation further reveals how foreign mercenaries, in alliance with government armed forces loyal to Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, are unleashing this violence to create a climate of fear in areas of rebel activity and to control and exploit for private gain areas rich in gold, diamonds, and valuable minerals. In fact, the Wagner Group tries to finance itself by seeking financial income in its countries of operation. Its financial profitability becomes an objective at least as important as the mission entrusted to it by the Central African government, opening the door to disturbing abuses.
The human rights violations, which may amount to war crimes, require immediate and effective accountability. But the international community, in both the public and private sectors, must also work together with those in CAR who are seeking genuine democratic and transparent change to focus attention on the finances fueling the conflict. By tracking foreign resource accumulation and associated illicit financial flows in and out of CAR, we can begin to craft new and innovative ways to combat the deadly situation. In particular, The Sentry is making the following recommendations: