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Press Briefing Notes on Central African Republic

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani

Location: Geneva

Date: 9 march 2021

We are very worried about the volatile situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the risk of renewed violence in the context of the second round of the legislative elections, due to take place next Sunday, 14 March.

The electoral process in December, which included the first round of the parliamentary vote and the presidential election, was marked by violence linked primarily with a new coalition of armed groups, known as the CPC (Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement), who opposed the holding of elections and launched a violent boycott of the process. As a result, there has been a steep increase in documented human rights violations and abuses before, during, and after the elections, including in the enforcement of a state of emergency and curfew.

From 1 October to 31 December 2020, the Human Rights Division of MINUSCA (the UN Mission in CAR) documented 185 incidents of human rights violations and abuses. Armed groups, in particular the CPC, were responsible for more than 86% of them. They killed and abducted civilians, fired live ammunition to intimidate the population, attacked UN peacekeepers - killing seven in December and January - burned down polling stations, and destroyed election materials.

The post-electoral period has also been characterized by counter-offensives and retaliatory actions against the armed groups by CAR defence and security forces and their allies, in the course of which human rights violations and abuses have been committed. State agents and their allies have reportedly arbitrarily killed civilians, as well as tortured, ill-treated and arbitrarily arrested people. In addition, they are alleged to have looted and confiscated supplies belonging to humanitarian organizations.

We are extremely concerned by allegations of such human rights violations and abuses by national security forces and armed groups. In this context, the imposition of a night-time nationwide curfew from 7 January and the decision to extend the state of emergency, which began on 21 January, by six months from 5 February, have resulted in a fragile situation in which human rights may be further at risk.

We remind the authorities that security forces must protect civilians, prevent violence and act in conformity with international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Any allegations of violations must be thoroughly, impartially, and effectively investigated, and those responsible must be held accountable. Victims and their families have the right to justice, truth and reparations.

All the allegations of human rights abuses committed by armed groups must be also independently and effectively investigated and the alleged perpetrators prosecuted.

Accountability for past and recent human rights violations and abuses is the only way to break the cycle of violence in CAR and to bring peace and stability to the country, without which it will not be able to recover from its dire economic situation.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact:

Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org or

Rupert Colville + 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org or

Liz Throssell + 41 22 917 9296 / ethrossell@ohchr.org or

Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / mhurtado@ohchr.org

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