BANGUI (30 November 2023) – A UN human rights expert today called on the Central African Republic (CAR) to step up efforts to prevent trafficking in persons, for purposes of sexual exploitation, child and forced marriage, recruitment and use by armed groups and armed forces, and forced labour.
“I welcome the political will of the President and the Government to combat trafficking in persons but stress that authorities must strengthen prevention measures and improve protection and support for victims, including victims of conflict related trafficking,” said UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons Siobhán Mullally, in a statement ending a seven-day visit to the country.
Mullally called for continuing action to prevent trafficking for all purposes of exploitation, including conflict related trafficking, ensure assistance and protection and accountability. She welcomed constructive engagement with the Government during her visit. The UN expert also met with feminist activists, women leaders and community leaders and lawyers.
“The continuing impact of conflict, climate change and displacement, combined with food insecurity and limited access to education, greatly increases risks of human trafficking, particularly of women and children,” Mullally said. To prevent child trafficking, the CAR must prioritise expanding access to education and strengthen child protection systems, the expert said.
“Effective prevention of trafficking requires action to combat poverty and empowerment of women and girls, particularly through education, access to livelihoods and decent work, and social protection,” she said.
The Central African Republic remains one of the poorest countries in the world, despite significant natural resources.
Mullally commended important steps taken to strengthen accountability for trafficking in persons, including the adoption of a comprehensive law and action plan and prioritisation of action to combat child trafficking.
However, the expert observed that gender inequality and high risks of trafficking for purposes of child and forced marriage, sexual slavery and domestic servitude were particularly affecting women and girls. “Prevention of trafficking must be central to the Women Peace and Security agenda, and to Youth Peace and Security measures,” she said.
Mullally said the recruitment of children by armed groups and abductions for child and forced marriage, and sexual slavery, remain a serious concern.
The Special Rapporteur travelled to Bria, the site of the country’s largest internally displaced camp, and spoke with people that have fled successive waves of violence.
She commended the Government and host communities for welcoming refugees and internally displaced persons, and called on the international community to provide support to prevent risks of trafficking.
She called for the presence and role of state authorities outside of the capital Bangui to be strengthened, effective implementation of laws to combat trafficking and access to justice for victims and to combat impunity.
“Victims and those at risk of trafficking urgently need attention, including safe accommodation and assistance,” Mullally said. “Strengthening the rule of law, justice and security sector reform, through measures such as mobile courts, expanded legal aid and increasing participation of women at all levels in the justice and security sectors, is critical.”
The Special Rapporteur will present a report on the visit to the Human Rights Council in June 2024.
Ms. Siobhán Mullally (Ireland) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children by the UN Human Rights Council in July 2020, to promote the prevention of trafficking in persons in all its forms, and to encourage measures to uphold and protect the human rights of victims. She is also the Established Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the School of Law, University of Galway, Ireland. Prior to her appointment as Special Rapporteur, she was a member of the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), elected as President of GRETA from 2016-2018 and as 1st Vice-President from 2014-2018.
The Special Rapporteurs 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.
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