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Press briefing notes on mass expulsions from Angola to DRC and CAR Special Criminal Court

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva 
Date: 26 October 2018

(1) Mass expulsions from Angola to DRC 

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Friday warned that the mass deportation of Congolese nationals from Angola has already resulted in serious human rights violations by security forces on both sides of the border, and left at least 330,000 returnees in an extremely precarious situation.

Since the beginning of October, some 330,000 people have reportedly crossed from Angola, mostly into the Kasai, Kasai Central and Kwango provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo following an expulsion order by the Government of Angola targeting irregular migrants. In interviews with people in the border town of Kamako in Kasai, the UN Human Rights Office received reports indicating that security forces in Angola used excessive force in their operations to deport the Congolese nationals. The team has verified information about six deaths, reportedly at the hands of security forces, but has also received many other allegations of killings that it has not been able to fully verify. Reports also suggest at least 100 people were injured. Read the full press release here.

(2) CAR Special Criminal Court

The Central African Republic achieved a milestone in the fight against impunity this week when the country’s Special Criminal Court held its inaugural session on 22 October. We congratulate the Government and its partners for their efforts to make this possible.

The Court – which is composed of national and international staff – will investigate, prosecute and try serious violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law, in particular the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed in the Central African Republic since 1 January 2003.

Impunity has deep roots in the history of the Central African Republic, with the repeated pattern of granting blanket amnesties widely seen as contributing to the cycle of violence. Thousands of Central Africans have been killed in successive conflicts and hundreds of thousands internally displaced or forced to flee into neighbouring countries. 

One of the key demands made at the Bangui Forum on national reconciliation in 2015, which ended in agreement to establish a Special Criminal Court (SCC) was the call for accountability and justice. The ultimate outcome of the SCC’s work will therefore not only be to fight impunity and strengthen the rule of law but to support a durable reconciliation process – a process which must place the rights of victims at its heart.

To this end, it is essential that the SCC’s prosecution strategy should prioritise the most serious crimes, including acts of sexual violence, and to identify the individuals who bear the greatest responsibility. The adoption of concrete and effective protection measures for victims and witnesses is also key. Of equal importance is ensuring the right to a fair and expeditious trial of all individuals.

The credibility and legitimacy of prosecution initiatives require that they be conducted in a non-discriminatory and objective manner, regardless of who the alleged perpetrators may be.

We therefore commend ongoing efforts by the SCC, with the support of the State and interested partners, to seek to reinforce or develop the national and international capacity for investigation and prosecution, as well as to promote an independent, impartial and effective judiciary, ensuring also the means to mount adequate legal defence.

The UN Human Rights Office stands ready to continue providing support, including for judicial proceedings, to the SCC. 

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org ) or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org). 

2018 is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights