An international tribunal should be set up to investigate war crimes in the Central African Republic (CAR), UN rights investigators have said.

The recommendation on Wednesday by the International Tribunal Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic followed an inquiry report released earlier this month which concluded that war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed over the past two years in the region. 

"We therefore recommend very strongly that a special criminal court be set up, a fully internationalised tribunal," commission member Philip Alston said.

In addition, the investigators stressed the need for international judges, saying that without them the need to render decisions on serious crimes would lead to the creation of "an ineffectual tribunal which will give the appearance of providing justice but would not be able to actually produce prosecutions that are essential". 

"If that goes ahead, we are extremely concerned to make sure that a majority of the judges and the president are from the international community," Alston said.

UN investigators warned that without proper attention the situation in CAR could spiral into a genocide.

In December, Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous warned of a potentially explosive situation in the CAR amid continuing violent clashes between the mainly Muslim Seleka alliance and anti-Balaka rebels, which are mostly Christian.

The CAR slid into bloodshed after the March 2013 coup that ousted longtime leader Francois Bozize, unleashing waves of killing and revenge attacks by Muslim Seleka fighters and anti-balaka rebels.

According to the UN, nearly 440,000 people remain displaced after two years of civil war and sectarian violence. 

About 190,000 people have sought asylum across borders. More than 36,000 people remain trapped in enclaves across the country, hoping to find asylum in neighbouring states.

Source: Agencies