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CAR: UN expert stresses the urgency of disarming armed groups and restoring the rule of law

BANGUI / GENEVA (21 June 2016) - At the end of her seventh visit in Central African Republic, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, expressed her concern about the threats from armed groups affiliated with Anti-Balaka and ex-Selekas and large-scale banditry to the protection of civilians, natural resources and to the crisis recovery process.

Despite current opportunities to improve the human rights situation, Ms. Keita Bocoum found that, the security situation remained precarious and unpredictable, marked by violence since June 10 in the PK5 district in Bangui and in Ngaoundaye in the west.

“I urge the government in coordination with international forces to implement robust measures to stop the fighting, ensure the imperative of protecting civilians and humanitarian actors, and to assist victims and displaced people,” said Ms. Keita Bocoum. She noted the urgency of disarming armed groups, reforming the security forces and national defense and restoring state authority by an effective presence of the administration throughout the Central African territory.

“During my visit, I met with civil society representatives that expressed concerns at the situation and were expecting the new government to implement key measures, in an inclusive and strategic manner, particularly in the areas of security and justice. I also noted the frustration and the feeling of exclusion among the youth, women and religious communities in Bangui and within the country,” the expert said.

The day after the Government’s policy speech at the National Assembly, Ms. Keita-Bocoum encouraged the authorities to operationalize the road map and the sectorial action plans as soon as possible, with the coordinated support of international partners. She welcomed the authorities’ decision to implement the measures of the Republican Pact adopted at the Bangui Forum last May, including on the fight against impunity, and on the inclusion of individuals and groups who feel marginalized.

The expert also welcomed recent progress towards the establishment of the Special Criminal Court mandated to investigate crimes committed since 2003, including the adoption of the operating budget. She encouraged the authorities to speed up the recruitment process, to start investigations quickly and to establish a protection program for victims and witnesses who will participate in court proceedings.

In terms of ordinary justice, the Independent Expert invited the authorities to validate the roadmap on the justice reform and to implement the first emergency actions, including holding the second session of the Criminal Court.

She stressed the need for non-judicial mechanisms to seek truth and reparation measures in order to shed light on the past, turn the page on the legacy of violence and ensure the guaranty of non-repetition.

During her visit in Bangui and Ndele, Ms. Keita-Bocoum met with several representatives of the new government, including the Prime Minister, ministers of justice, interior, public security and the administration of the territory, social affairs and reconciliation, and environment. She also exchanged with the President of the National Assembly and his executive office, international partners, representatives of civil society and religious authorities.

The Independent Expert also inquired into the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against the international forces. She noted the efforts carried out to investigate the allegations, protect the victims and witnesses and prevent from this scourge.

On 28 June at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ms. Keita Bocoum will discuss the issue of transitional justice with representatives of the Central African authorities, MINUSCA and civil society organisations.

The UN Independent Expert will submit her final report to the Human Rights Council in September 2016.

The mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic was established by the Council of Human Rights on 27 September 2013. Marie-Thérèse Keita-Bocoum, a former professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, held various positions both in Côte d’Ivoire and in the UN. She was Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi, Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to UNOWA, as well as Director of the Division of Human Rights and the Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Darfur. For additional information, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/CF/Pages/IECentralAfricanRepublic.aspx

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’ s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts 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 from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Central African Republic: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CFIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact Julie Tétard (+41 22 928 9301 / jtetard@ohchr.org) or write to ie-car@ohchr.org

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