Central African Republic: All stakeholders must act to end impunity, says UN expert

Bangui, February 20, 2022.-A UN human rights expert today urged all necessary steps be taken to end impunity in the Central African Republic to ensure lasting peace in the country, and expressed the need to strengthen efforts to provide more holistic responses to victims.

Following a seven-day official visit to the country, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, Yao Agbetse, called on authorities to provide the transitional justice institutions, particularly the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission (CVJRR), and the Special Criminal Court with adequate resources.

«It is important that these institutions be provided with adequate resources to carry out their missions,” Agbetse said in a statement (French only). “In this regard, prompt and substantial assistance from international partners is essential. The CVJRR must be provided with a headquarters without delay in order to carry out its activities, and its independence must be assured.”

During the visit, the UN expert met State authorities, justice institutions, UN agencies and bodies, representatives of the diplomatic corps, Central African and international civil society organizations, media and humanitarian workers.

Agbetse said he received testimonies reporting abuses committed against civilians by all parties to the conflict, including Russian security contractors deployed under an agreement between the Governments of CAR and the Russian Federation. He cited instances of sexual violence, acts of intimidation, destruction of homes, threats, racketeering, as well as acts of torture, cruel, humiliating, inhuman and degrading treatment.

“It is urgent that appropriate measures be taken, in the short term, to put an end to these violations of the rights of the civilian population,” he said.

The Independent Expert said he was informed that while the armed groups’ capacity to cause harm had been greatly reduced, they continued to pose threats to the population. They continue to make day and night raids on villages and collect taxes on the roads.

He expressed concerns about the use of explosive devices in the west of the country, particularly in the localities of Kaga-Bandoro, Baboua, Niem-Yéléwa, and Boda. It is urgent that the international community support that the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA) and the humanitarian community in demining these areas, the UN expert added.

Agbetse urged the authorities to make education, technical and agricultural education, and vocational training a priority to promote the participation of youth in the decision-making process.

He also called on the international community to continue to support the timely organization of local elections in 2022. “All actors, including political parties and the media, should refrain from hate speech, avoid inciting violence, and avoid using manipulation and disinformation,” he said. “The necessary measures for free, transparent and peaceful elections must be taken now with the participation of women (quota of at least 35 percent) and youth.»

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