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Press briefings notes on Central African Republic and Ukraine

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva
Date: 13 December 2013
Subjects:
Central African Republic
Ukraine

1)   Central African Republic

Although the security situation in Bangui appears to have improved in recent days, we are alarmed at the increasing tensions among religious communities in the Central African Republic.

Retaliatory attacks between Christians and Muslim communities are reported to have taken place in numerous locations in the capital over the past few days, resulting in several casualties. Serious human rights violations are being committed on religious grounds, as well as the looting and destruction of property. One mosque was reported to have been burnt and another one destroyed in Bangui earlier this week. 

The situation is also tense in several towns, including Bouca, Bossangoa and Bozoum, where a vicious cycle of attacks and reprisals continues. According to information we have received, 27 Muslims were killed by self-defence militias, known as anti-Balaka, in the village of Bohong, some 75km from Bouar, on Thursday.

Meanwhile the number of people known to have been killed in Bangui since December 5 has reached more than 500. This figure is expected to increase, as more bodies are collected.

We condemn any attack on places of worship and on religious freedom, and urge all communities to exercise restraint.

While we welcome the fact that religious leaders have been calling for calm and reconciliation between Muslims and Christians, we urge them to redouble their efforts to contain rising intolerance and inter-communal violence. We ask the authorities to take urgent measures to facilitate dialogue among communities and to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations.

2) Ukraine

We are following closely the events in central Kiev and warn against the risk of further escalation, violence and polarisation. We are particularly concerned at reports of the use of excessive force by riot police and violent acts by some demonstrators.
  
We call upon the authorities to conduct a thorough, prompt, independent and impartial investigation into all the violent incidents of the past two weeks. Holding perpetrators of human rights violations and violence accountable, regardless of their status, is essential in times of social unrest and would help restore calm.

The Government must take all necessary measures to ensure that human rights safeguards are upheld during arrest and detention and to avoid unlawful or arbitrary detentions. State authorities must also ensure that detainees are not subjected to torture or any other form of ill-treatment. All those injured must have prompt access to medical care and victims should be able to seek redress.

Ukraine is bound by international conventions guaranteeing the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.  We call on all parties involved to exercise restraint to create the conditions for the free expression of opinions.

We join calls made by the UN Secretary General and other international officials for a meaningful dialogue between all parties to find a negotiated solution.

ENDS

For further information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 or + 41 79 506 1088 /rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org)

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