“I vehemently condemn the stubbornness of the Coalition of Patriots for Change and other armed groups who continue to sow terror, insecurity and suffering among the civilian population and the victims of violations and abuses”, said Yao Agbetse, the UN independent expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Engage in political dialogue and the peace and reconciliation process
At the end of his ten-day official visit to the CAR, Mr. Agbetse said he was dismayed by reports from residents of the town of Bria, capital of the Haute-Kotto prefecture, who are concerned about the mobility and connections of armed groups with neighboring Sudan.
Calling on armed groups to lay down their arms in the best interests of the Central African population, the UN expert urged these groups to engage in political dialogue and the peace and reconciliation process led by the Truth Commission. , Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation (CVJRR).
“Unacceptable” abuses in Boyo
Referring to the brutal and organized attack on the village of Boyo in December 2021, the expert said that the human rights violations committed by the Central African National Army (FACA) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and their auxiliaries were “unacceptable”.
Russian allies and the FACA reportedly lent support and backing to the “Anti-Balaka” militia which committed atrocities in Boyo, including beheadings and sexual violence, and forced thousands of residents to flee.
“The gravity of these facts requires appropriate responses from national authorities towards the victims,” said Mr. Agbetse.
“I recommend that the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) set up a more reactive alert system and regular joint operations with the FACA to prevent tragedies such as that in Boyo,” he said. he added.
The UN expert also requested that Russian mercenaries from the Wagner security group refrain from hindering collaboration and joint operations between FACA, ISF and UN peacekeepers assigned to the MINUSCA.
“The Wagner Group must not prevent the deployment of MINUSCA protection operations and obstruct investigations into violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” said Mr. Agbetse.
Giving victims access to justice
At the end of his visit to the CAR, Mr. Agbetse recommended that all allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law be the subject of a systematic and thorough investigation by the Central African authorities.
Out-of-court settlements in cases of conflict-related sexual violence are unfair to victims and must end.
“These investigations must be followed by concrete actions so that the victims have access to justice”, he underlined. The expert said the creation of a reparations fund was also fundamental to ensuring justice for victims.
He strongly recommended the holding of extraordinary judicial sessions to deal with the heavy workload represented by the crimes of sexual violence linked to the conflict. Out-of-court settlements in cases of conflict-related sexual violence are unfair to victims and must end, Agbetse said.
The expert noted that several testimonies and reports indicated a lack of control and accountability within the state apparatus, including the judiciary, the police and gendarmerie, and the civil service in general. He also called on the authorities to tackle the issue of hate speech and incitement to violence.
Mr. Agbetse called on the international community to strengthen its support for the CAR so that the restoration of state authority is effective.
The Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts are part of what are called the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations human rights system, is the general name for the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that deal either with country-specific situations or thematic issues in all regions of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.