GENEVA (25 April 2014) – Evacuation to protect the lives of religious minorities under threat in the Central African Republic must be a measure of last resort and implemented in full consultation with them and in accordance with international standards, two United Nations human rights experts have warned today.
The Special Rapporteurs on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, and on minority issues, Rita Izsák, stressed that -even in such an extreme situation- it is important to ensure that the communities concerned are enabled to take their own decision. “The dilemma to either stay and risk one’s life or be evacuated is enormous for religious minorities in the Central African Republic,” they said.
“Evacuations have to be decided on a case by case basis, with the full individual consent of the persons concerned and it is important that everyone has the right to decide to stay or to evacuate with the guarantee of return in safety and dignity once conditions allow,” Mr. Beyani noted, warning about the risk of protracted displacement and further divisions amongst communities.
Ms. Izsák voiced her grave concern over the situation of the mainly Muslim IDPs and urged minority rights protections: “The situation in the country is extreme and saving lives must be a paramount concern in view of the current levels of violence and displacement.”
“Any evacuation should be essential and short-term with a prospect of return to their homes,” the expert on minority issues said. “Whether they stay where they are or are evacuated, those persons should be granted protection urgently, and fully consulted on what happens to them in the short, medium and long-term.”
Special Rapporteur Beyani welcomed the Security Council’s resolution to deploy a peacekeeping mission to the country, while expressing concern that the military and police component of the mission will only start to be operational in mid-September.
“Time is of the essence and the persons in need of protection cannot wait longer,” he highlighted. “They need to be assured that they will be afforded immediate and effective protection against reprisals.”
“The Government should receive adequate support in the interim by the African Union, French and European forces,” Mr. Beyani said, adding the voices of the human rights experts to that of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.
Chaloka Beyani, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx
Rita Izsák was appointed as Independent Expert on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2011 and subsequently her mandate was renewed as Special Rapporteur in March 2014. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/IExpert/Pages/IEminorityissuesIndex.aspx
UN Human Rights, country page – Central African Republic: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CFIndex.aspx
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