A country that does not investigate or hold to account those who are responsible for crimes and violence risks continued and future fighting because the rage, injustice and fear felt by victims festers, gets passed on to future generations and eventually can explode, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
“There must be judicial accountability,” he said. “This individual accountability is an important factor in eroding the dangerous perception that a whole community is collectively responsible for the violence that has taken place. Lack of accountability will generate feelings of cynicism and distrust…and breed the idea that people need to arm to prevent atrocities from happening again.”
Zeid made his remarks as part of his address to a seminar on impunity in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR). The seminar was one of the stops on the High Commissioner’s official visit to CAR. It is his first official trip the country.
During the visit, Zeid will meet with a variety of people including various government officials, Parfait Onanga Anyanga, the head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), as well as representatives of civil society groups, religious leaders and NGOS. The High Commissioner will also hold discussions with representatives of the country’s internally displaced people.
CAR has been in the grip of a civil, political and humanitarian crisis with the latest UN figures estimating the number of internally displaced people at nearly 1 million. It began with a coup in 2013 by a rebel coalition known as Seleka that ousted President François Bozizé. Although the Seleka disbanded and a transitional government has been set up, the country still faces major challenges from armed militias. In addition, the conflict has taken on a religious dimension with sectarian fighting taking place between Christians and Muslims.
The High Commissioner’s visit will also look at the progress of implementation of human rights mechanisms in CAR including the establishment of a Special Tribunal and other mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.
The commitment to end impunity does not just apply nationally, but internationally as well, Zeid said. No-one is above the law.
“I want to emphasize that the UN insists that the international or UN troops who have allegedly committed abuses while carrying out their duties be promptly investigated and held to account,” he said. “Everything should be done to protect the people of CAR and shield them from harm.”
2 September 2015