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Central African Republic: UN expert calls for restraint and responsibility to protect population

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GENEVA (7 April 2020) – The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in CAR, Yao Agbetse, today called on the government, the opposition and armed groups in the Central African Republic, as well as national and international media, to exercise restraint and responsibility as the country progresses under the Khartoum Peace Agreement . He issued the following statement:

"Since 28 March 2020, the political climate has deteriorated and has led to tensions detrimental to the still fragile security situation in the capital Bangui.

Any political actor who has held or plans to hold high office in CAR, including the supreme magistracy, must prove himself capable of putting the interests of the people before his own interests; this requirement is non-negotiable .

Any attempt to impede the country's progress towards the peace strongly expressed by the Central African people at the Bangui Forum in 2015 and at the national consultations in 2019 under the Khartoum Peace Agreement is a betrayal of the people who aspire only to enjoy their rights.

Anyone who commits acts that undermine the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms by the Central African people is subject to international sanctions, including before the International Criminal Court.

All leaders of armed groups that have become Ministers in favour of the Khartoum Peace Agreement or integrated into the State apparatus must exercise effective human rights due diligence that obliges them to respect republican laws and refrain from any actions incompatible with their commitments under the Agreement.

Under the Peace Agreement, I call on the armed groups to "put an immediate, complete and irrevocable end to all hostilities and forms of violence" (Article 5), as they have pledged to do.

Whilst the CAR is facing the COVID-19 pandemic with potentially catastrophic consequences and the electoral system for the next presidential elections is far from being in place, the current tensions are likely to undermine and jeopardise the efforts that have already been undertaken and the population's legitimate hope for peace.

I call on the Central African authorities to respect the applicable international norms and standards on arrest, pre-trial detention, fair and equitable trial, and deprivation of liberty, and to avoid resorting to arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

I urge CAR's neighbouring countries and international partners to act as peacemakers in accompanying CAR towards transparent elections and to refrain from any action or omission likely to undermine the electoral process and plunge the country back into chaos.

I call on the majority, the opposition, the armed groups and the national and international media to show restraint and responsibility.

I also urge the United Nations Security Council to take urgent measures and send a strong message to the Central African actors because the risks of an eruption of violence are real."

ENDS

Mr. Yao Agbetse (Togo) is a human rights lawyer, researcher and teacher who has devoted the last 25 years of his life to justice and human rights, including the rights of the child. He has implemented human rights programs at the national level and has provided legal and technical advice for the development and monitoring of national human rights laws and policies, particularly in Benin, Côte d 'Ivoire, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Togo. He has created a space and tools for dialogue and joint efforts by state actors and CSOs. In the DRC, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali, he has implemented DDR programs, trained army and police chiefs, and provided support to mandate-holders and United Nations operations, including participating in the interactive dialogue under item 10 during sessions of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. He provided first-hand, factual and reliable information to UN experts to help them assess human rights challenges in different countries and made specific and workable recommendations to ensure accountability and access to Justice. The mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic was established by the Human Rights Council on 27 September 2013.

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. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page – Central African Republic

For more information and media requests, please contact: Isatou Harris (+41 22 928 9422 / iharris@ohchr.org) or write to ie-car@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Xabier Celaya (+41 22 917 9445 / mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org)

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