Statement by Nada Al-Nashif UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights
Human Rights Council 46th Session
22 March 2021
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to welcome the Government's participation in this high-level dialogue, represented by His Excellency Jean Christophe Nguinza, Minister of Public Service and Acting Minister of Justice.
I welcome the participation of the Deputy Special Representative and Deputy Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), Ms. Lizbeth Cullity.
I would also like to welcome the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, Mr. Yao Agbetse, as well as the Interim Representative of the African Union in the Central African Republic, Mr. François BADO, Human Rights Observer, in charge of Dialogue and Reconciliation. Finally, I wish to welcome the participation of Mr. Anicet Thierry Goue Moussangoe, Secretary General of the Network of NGOs for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (RONGDH).
First of all, I wish to commend the efforts made by the Government of CAR to advance and promote accountability, the right to truth including about past violations, and victim’s rights and dignity. The signing on 30 December of the presidential Decree N°20-435 confirming the official nomination of the 11 Commissioners, of which five women, recommended by the Selection Committee to serve on the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission marks the final phase towards the establishment of the Commission, which was created by law in February 2020. This development represents a significant milestone in the transitional justice process and the implementation of the Peace Agreement. This phase should be complemented with the quick swearing-in ceremony of the members of the Commission, and the provision of State budget, to allow the Commission to fully, independently, effectively and without delay, play its crucial role in a society which continues to suffer from its legacy of massive violations, as well as ongoing violence.
My office stands ready to support the next steps for the effective operationalisation of the Commission, including supporting capacity development for the Commissioners and the Commission’s Secretariat, the recruitment of technical staff, and the development of the Commission’s overall program of work. I call on international actors, to also provide necessary technical and financial support to ensure the effectiveness of the Commission.
This important momentum around the Commission is also a formidable opportunity to develop a comprehensive transitional justice strategy that beyond truth-seeking and criminal justice includes reparations and measures to halt hostilities and prevent further recurrence of violations.
Against this positive development and positive signs following the signature of the Peace Agreement between the Government and 14 armed groups in February 2019, violence threatening civilians resumed ahead of the elections of December 2020. Human rights violations and abuses were committed and more than 200,000 thousands people were newly displaced inside and outside CAR. The violence was triggered by the disqualification by the Constitutional Court of the candidacy of François Bozizé, former President of the Central African Republic, and the subsequent formation of the
Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement (CPC) in a bid to prevent the elections and oust President Touadera, who was ultimately re-elected. This has led to a sharp degradation of the security, human rights and humanitarian situation in the country.
There has been a steep increase in documented human rights violations and abuses before, during, and after the elections. The CPC bears the biggest responsibility in those violations and abuses, while State agents have a lesser responsibility. However, both parties have contributed to the high number of violations documented.
Documented human rights abuses and violations committed by the CPC include killings, sexual violence, torture and ill-treatment, death threats against voters, abductions, violations of freedom of movement. Some local authorities requested individual protection from MINUSCA for fear of being summarily executed by armed groups for their involvement in organizing the elections.
In response to increased violence, the imposition of a nation-wide curfew as of 7 January and the declaration of a State of emergency since 21 January, have resulted in an environment conducive to abuse of power and human rights violations by defence and security forces, including the Presidential guards. People suspected of being close to former President Bozizé have been targeted. A number have been arrested, and/or summarily executed. The opposition has also denounced a campaign of intimidation against it.
Besides, in the fight to regain control of the territories that were under the control of theCPC, civilian casualties were reported, including women and children. Moreover, human rights violations and abuses (including extrajudicial killings, rape and confiscation of property) are reportedly being committed by the FACA (CAR military), the internal security forces and their Russian ally in the context of military operations.
I call on all parties to the conflict to refrain from violence, and remind them that they should abide by international human rights and international humanitarian law, and prioritize the protection of civilians.
Moreover, it is crucial that the United Nations and international partners continue to join efforts with CAR authorities at political and technical levels to ensure that perpetrators of all sides are held accountable.
It’s worth noting that in contrast with the first round of the elections, the partial and second round of legislative elections concluded on 14 March without major incidents of human rights violations/abuses recorded, during that day of the elections and the days that followed. While noting this positive development, we should be aware that the situation remains tense in the country.
Amidst this fragile context in CAR, and despite challenges linked to the security and covid-19 sanitary restrictions, the Human Rights Division of the United Nations multidimensional integrated stabilization mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) will continue to monitor and report on human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law; including for early warning and advocacy purposes, in close cooperation with my Office.
The Human Rights Division is engaged in combating impunity for violations and abuses committed and hold perpetrators accountable, including through support to the United Nations Mission (MINUSCA) to the Special Criminal Court and national courts, for judicial investigations. Verified information provided by the Human Rights Division has been instrumental to facilitate the arrest of some perpetrators of human rights violations, and prompted judicial proceedings.
In addition, human rights information is also shared with the African Union and the Economic Community for Central African States - as co-guarantors of the Peace Agreement - engaged in monitoring the implementation of this Agreement. This information could serve for accountability purposes, when this will be envisaged by the co-guarantors, given that the Peace Agreement provides also for sanctions for violators of the Agreement.
Madame la Présidente,
Enfin, je voudrais exprimer ma tristesse devant les souffrances que la population de la République Centrafricaine continue de subir, en raison de cette crise qui perdure. Cette situation a un impact économique et social désastreux et a conduit à la dégradation de la crise humanitaire (je suis sûr que d'autres intervenants s'étendront sur ces questions). J'appelle toutes les parties à recourir à des moyens pacifiques pour résoudre la crise.
Mon bureau ne ménagera aucun effort pour soutenir les autorités centrafricaines dans la promotion et la protection des droits de l'homme de même que dans la prévention des violations et des abus.
Je vous remercie.