GENEVA (20 February 2023) – Despite the government’s efforts to redeploy defence and security forces over a large part of the national territory and continue the DDRR programme, the human rights situation in CAR was still gravely concerning, a UN expert said today.
Yao Agbetse, UN independent expert on the Central African Republic said that in the last quarter of 2022, the Human Rights Division of MINUSCA documented and verified 483 human rights and humanitarian law violations and abuses that affected 1,300 civilian victims.
Based on MINUSCA data, Internal Security Forces, FACA and allied bilateral forces were responsible for 58% of the violations resulting in 70% of the victims, while armed groups committed the rest of the violations.
“Government forces were responsible for arbitrary arrests and detentions, violations of the right to life, physical and mental integrity, and abuses at roadblocks,” Agbetse said in a statement at the end of a 10-day visit to the country.
The expert highlighted the attack on the Beloko customs post on the border with Cameroon by armed groups from the coalition of patriots on 21 January 2023 and FACA positions in Sikikédé in Vakaga on 14 February 2023 when several FACA elements were taken prisoner.
“I am calling for the treatment of captured soldiers in line with the Geneva Conventions,” Agbetse said referring to the incidents.
Russian bilateral forces including those engaged jointly with the Central African Armed Forces continue to inflict cruel, inhuman, humiliating and degrading treatment on the civilian population in the Central African Republic, Agbetse said.
“The obstruction of UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) operations by these forces are unacceptable and must stop,” the expert said.
“Allegations of abductions, kidnappings and summary executions of civilians are made against these forces, including in the Mambéré-Kadéï Prefecture,” Agbetse said. “Those in positions of State authority, in particular prefects, sub-prefects, mayors, as well as members of the police, gendarmerie and FACA forces, are also subjected to acts of torture and ill-treatment by the Russian bilateral forces,” he said.
“The Government of CAR must verify the allegation of human rights abuses and violations, dispatch teams to the scene and conduct impartial investigations,” the UN expert said. “Access to justice for victims and their protection, including while the case is being processed, must guide the State's action,” he said.
The expert said hate messages and speech were blighting political and social life and relations between the Central African authorities and its technical and financial partners. “I urge the Government to respond promptly to these threats to social cohesion and to the ongoing peace and reconciliation process,” he said. “This is imperative in order to establish a peaceful climate before the organisation of local elections.”
Pointing out that the local elections in CAR had been postponed twice, Agbetse also urged the government to engage in genuine dialogue with opposition parties and other stakeholders, technical and financial partners, state institutions and civil society organisations to restore the confidence of stakeholders in the electoral process leading up to July’s municipal elections. Agbetse called for inclusive, free, fair, transparent, credible and peaceful elections in CAR and urged all actors, including opposition parties to participate fully in the electoral process.
“They must consider local governance as a political response to the restoration of State authority throughout the national territory and the delivery of basic needs and access to justice for grassroots communities,” the expert said.
Mr. Yao Agbetse (Togo) is the independent expert on the Central African Republic and 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, it 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.
UN human rights country page: Central African Republic
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