France

France urged to detail African Bastille Day delegates

© Sirpa Terre IDF

With top officials from African states in France to take part in Bastille Day celebrations, a human rights group has called on the French government to publish a list of participants. The African delegations, who are marking the 50th anniversary of their countries' independence from France, could include suspected war criminals, the group warned.

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The International Federation for Human Rights (Fédération internationale des droits de l'homme, or FIDH) said leaders could bring officials previously involved in war crimes.

Marceau Sivieude, FIDH Africa desk

"We don't want this day, which is supposed to celebrate the core values of the Republic, to become the day of impunity", Marceau Sivieude, head of the Africa desk at FIDH, told RFI.

He was making reference to the presence of military or security service officials, who normally should not be granted immunity under international law.

Among those who could be in attendence was Congolese general Noël Léonard Essongo, who is accused of committing war crimes during the country's civil war in the late 1990s.

Sivieude also referred to a case in which hundreds of refugees died or disappeared after having returned to Congo-Brazzaville from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in 1999.

"Some of the people that were in charge of security services or the army at that time could be part of this delegation, as has happened in the past", he said.

"People responsible for these crimes were invited in the past", he said, adding that they "were granted an immunity, which is absolutely against international law."

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