GENEVA / BANGUI (28 June 2018) – A UN expert has called for better coordination of peace initiatives, transitional justice and reconciliation in the Central African Republic, after her report of an alarming deterioration in the human rights situation in the country.
"I have found a population that is suffering more and more, in the grip of a growing sense of insecurity, which had high expectations and is beginning to lose confidence in the protection actors," said Ms. Keita Bocoum after a 10-day visit to the country.
“The State has been making numerous efforts for the protection of its civilians, but its authority over the Central African territory is still very weakened by violent abuses committed by armed groups and by its limited effective presence,” said the UN Independent Expert on human rights in the Central African Republic, Marie Thérèse Keita Bocoum. She was also particularly concerned by the lack of cohesion, communication and transparency among actors working in the Central African Republic.
“I deplore the deterioration in the humanitarian situation and the growing insecurity, following the military operation in April and events in Bangui in early May, during which many civilians lost their lives, and places of worship were attacked. "
"I am also shocked by the growing number of attacks against humanitarian workers and their equipment, and I urge local officials to strengthen their legitimate authority and condemn these heinous acts.”
Ms. Keita Bocoum also deplored the fact that many displaced populations were still deprived of freedom of movement outside camps, such as in Bangassou, and are suffering acutely from lack of access to health services, education and economic opportunities.
“It is crucial that there is now greater coordination on peace and development initiatives and effective redeployment of the State authority, which must be accompanied by humanitarian assistance,” the Independent Expert stressed.
Ms. Keita Bocoum encouraged the Panel of Facilitators to consider the public calls for more transparency and inclusion in peace negotiations. "It is also important that civil society remains in its role as an impartial and independent observer of the impact of political decisions on human rights, and that the needs of rural populations and women are better understood".
She called for urgent action to coordinate and support criminal justice services, as well as to secure the right to truth, institutional reforms and individual and collective reparations aimed at ensuring the non-recurrence of conflict.
Ms. Keita Bocoum emphasized the need to organize all these actions in a victim-centered transitional justice strategy addressing regional disparities. “It is now time to consider without further delay reparations for victims, regardless of the outcome of judicial proceedings, in order to manage expectations and facilitate reconciliation." She also encouraged the adoption by the National Assembly of the bill on legal aid and the preparation of solid cases before the courts.
At a meeting with representatives of the National Human Rights Commission, Ms. Keita Bocoum expressed regret over the absence of a budget for “this important institution”. She said the Commission’s independence and ability to observe and report on the human rights situation in CAR could not be guaranteed without proper funding. She called on donors to support the State in this direction.
During her visit, the Independent Expert met members of the Government, Parliament, the diplomatic corps, civil society, non-governmental organizations, UN officials, as well as representatives of victims and displaced people in Bangui and Bangassou.
Ms. Keita Bocoum will submit her findings to a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 4 July 2018.
Ms Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum is the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic.
The mandate was established by the UN Human Rights Council on 27 September 2013. Ms Keita Bocoum, a former professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, has 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.
The Independent Experts and Working Groups 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.
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