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Central African Republic: UN expert calls for peaceful, free and fair elections

Elections in CAR

22 December 2015

BANGUI / GENEVA (22 December 2015) - The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, today congratulated the nearly two million Central Africans who have registered for the presidential and legislative elections. She encouraged them to participate in the important vote due to take place Sunday, 27 December.

“As we enter the election campaign, I would like to reiterate the importance of these elections for the future of the Central African Republic. These elections should be a major step for the country to finally turn away from violence and hate and make way for reconciliation and reconstruction,” Ms. Keita Bocoum said. The expert expressed her deep concern following the attack on 17 December against one of the presidential candidates and urged prompt action to punish the perpetrators of this act of aggression.

“Respect for human rights during the upcoming electoral process is a key element towards guaranteeing that the voting takes place in a free, regular and secure manner, and that it translates faithfully the political will of the Central African people,” she said.

Ms. Keita Bocoum remained deeply concerned about cases of sexual violence related to the conflict. On November 26, armed fighters from the Popular Front of the Rebirth of Central Africa (FPRC) allegedly gang raped a young woman in the 5th district of Bangui after killing her husband. “Such violence is inhuman and I firmly condemn it. I urge the authorities to respond effectively, with the assistance of MINUSCA, to bring an end to the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and to take urgent measures to protect the victims, as well as the people still living in areas under the control of armed groups,” Ms. Keita Bocoum said.

The expert expressed deep concern at the use of violence by armed groups who attempted to prevent citizens from freely exercising and secure their right to vote in the constitutional referendum on 13 and 14 December 2015. “It is time to lay down arms. Central Africans want to vote freely and elect their representatives democratically. They do not wish to be represented by people who favour the use of weapons, who kill, injure, rape and pillage with impunity.”

“I call on the national authorities and MINUSCA to take quick action against the troublemakers and the criminals, in order to prevent further harm and to bring them to justice,” she added.

“Political leaders must respect the code of conduct for political parties and electoral candidates that they recently signed. In particular, they must avoid provocations and speeches directly or indirectly inciting violence, hatred and discrimination. Policy makers must remain extremely vigilant so as not to create or inflame tensions in such a sensitive context, where communities remain strongly divided,” she said.

“These elections are crucial in giving a chance to a new, democratically elected government to build peace, social cohesion and to build the future of the Central African Republic with the full involvement of women and young people,” Ms. Keita Bocoum said.

ENDS

The mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic was established by the Council of Human Rights on 27 September 2013. Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, a former professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire, held various positions both in Côte d’Ivoire and in the UN. She was Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi, Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to UNOWA, as well as Director of the Division of Human Rights and the Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Darfur. For additional information, please visit:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/CF/Pages/IECentralAfricanRepublic.aspx

The 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 that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, country page – Central African Republic: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CFIndex.aspx

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