Over several months, The Sentry has worked closely with CNN on a confidential investigation, obtaining testimony and documents implicating the Wagner Group, a shadowy Kremlin-linked defense and security firm, in an array of mass atrocities against civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Watch the investigative report below, and read the full report on CNN’s website, “‘It was our children they killed’: Russian mercenaries implicated in the torture and killing of civilians in Central African Republic.”
In conjunction with the investigative report, The Sentry has released a series of recommendations to governments and financial institutions around the world to help halt the ongoing atrocities, human rights violations, devastation, and grave human suffering at the hands of the Wagner Group and the Touadéra regime’s armed forces.
- The United States should review its current sanctions designations related to private security companies—including the network of companies linked to the Wagner Group—and individuals operating in the Central African Republic. It should look to implement additional targeted network sanctions, in conjunction with its international partners, under appropriate sanctions authorities, including its Global Magnitsky, transnational criminal organizations, and country sanctions programs, on leadership, members, associated entities, and enablers, particularly those facilitating illicit financial flows out of CAR.
- The United Kingdom and European Union should, in conjunction with their international partners, use their Global Human Rights Sanctions regimes and country programs to implement targeted network sanctions on private security companies perpetrating human rights abuses in the Central African Republic, in particular the Wagner Group, its leadership, members, associated entities, and enablers. The US, EU, and UK sanctions should be closely coordinated for maximum impact.
- The international community, led by the EU, the US, and the UK, should coordinate on actions to end political support for the Touadéra regime, which has facilitated the hijacking of the Central African state by transnational organized crime networks and armed groups, unless steps are taken toward long-term peace, governance, and transparency. To this end, the EU and the US should stop any military cooperation with the CAR government. The US, the EU, and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank should collectively suspend non-humanitarian, direct financial assistance to the CAR government. Benchmarks related to governance, democracy, and human rights should be clearly noted to the Central African authorities as pre-conditions for any further assistance.
- The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) should, under its mandate, more actively and transparently take steps to respond to serious and credible threats to the civilian population, document violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights, and immediately investigate the report’s allegations. Following the completion of its investigations, MINUSCA should share its findings with international partners capable of taking further steps towards accountability for any alleged violations.
- The UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries should build on its recent statement on the alleged activities of the Wagner Group and launch a full and comprehensive investigation into the report’s allegations of serious human rights violations and international crimes. The Working Group should also engage the EU, US, and other donor governments to urge the Central African government to end the use of mercenaries in the country’s conflict.
- Banks and financial institutions should conduct enhanced customer due diligence on individuals and entities with ties to private security companies operating in the Central African Republic, as they may pose a higher risk for illicit financial activities such as sanctions evasion, money laundering, and corruption, and should refresh such diligence on a periodic basis. Banks and financial institutions should also take steps to identify accounts beneficially owned or controlled by individuals or entities linked to the Wagner Group and freeze such accounts to the extent required by applicable law or bank policy.