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Statements and speeches Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Human rights situation in Central African Republic still of serious concern, says Deputy

28 March 2024

Delivered by

Nada Al-Nashif United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights


High Level Dialogue on the Central African Republic at the 55th session of the Human Rights Council


Geneva, Palais des Nations, Room XX

Mr. Vice, President
Your Excellencies, 
Distinguished Panellists,

Let me start by recognizing the recent adoption by the Central African Republic of various human rights-related laws and policies which is a positive step, as is the Government’s pledge during the Human Rights 75 high-level event last December 2023 to operationalize the National Human Rights Policy and Action Plan. I also welcome the country’s successful completion of its fourth Universal Periodic Review in January of this year and its dialogue with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in February of this year also. 

The Government’s continued engagement with MINUSCA and with our Office is critical as the human rights situation in the Central African Republic remains of serious concern, exacerbated by violence, by widespread poverty, and the dire humanitarian situation. Further efforts are indeed urgently required to effectively address compounded human rights challenges, including those affecting women and girls.  

The complex security environment continues to affect the human rights of civilians.  Human rights abuses and violations and violations of international humanitarian law are committed by all parties to the conflict, with 2,100 abuses and violations reported by MINUSCA for the period 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023, affecting 4,676 victims, including 383 women and 250 girls.  Armed groups were responsible for 51 percent of the abuses and State actors for the remaining 49 percent of violations. Women and girls continued to be subjected to conflict-related sexual violence, likely considerably under-reported due to the fear of stigmatization and reprisals. In the reporting period, MINUSCA documented 138 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, that affected 170 victims, including 89 girls and 77 women. These violations were mainly attributable to armed groups, but also included military and other security personnel. I wish to also note other serious violations, such as extrajudicial executions, trafficking, forced recruitment and use, and forced marriage. 

Concrete measures must be adopted to end these and other human rights violations and abuses, advance accountability and justice for survivors and the families of victims and also to provide victims with comprehensive support services.  As of December of last year, the Special Criminal Court – supported by MINUSCA - had arrested and charged 44 persons for war crimes and/or crimes against humanity with an additional 25 cases still under investigation.  And in an encouraging development, last year, the Bangui Court of Appeal started to systematically implement protective measures for victims and witnesses of crimes of sexual violence, including the holding of closed hearings to protect the identity of concerned parties.  

Armed conflict continues to result in grave human rights violations against children.  Between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2023, 674 boys and 372 girls were victims of these violations, with the recruitment and use of children and abduction and sexual violence being the most frequent. A total of 75 girls associated with parties to the conflict were subjected to sexual violence or used for sexual purposes. Armed groups remain the main perpetrators in this regard. 

The Central African Republic, along with partners, should continue to address the involvement of children in armed conflict by expediting measures to disarm and demobilize armed groups, by continuing to negotiate the release of children, also providing psychosocial and medical support, as well as family reunification and community reintegration services, including vocational training. The establishment of the National Child Protection Council in 2023, which is supported by MINUSCA, is a positive development to help prevent children from becoming victims of armed conflict. 

Strengthened measures are also urgently needed to eliminate all forms of exploitation of child labour, particularly in the agriculture sector, in extractive industry, in domestic work, notably by implementing the National Action Plan against Trafficking in Children that was adopted in 2022. Also essential are measures to address high rates of gender-based violence, child and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The Government’s National Strategy to combat Gender-based Violence, Child Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation is a first step in the right direction.

Your excellencies,  
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Central African Republic ranks 188th out of 191 countries in terms of gender equality. Gender-based discrimination and exclusion from public and political life remain deeply entrenched. It is regrettable that the revised Electoral Code, adopted by the National Assembly in January 2024, did not include a provision on the implementation of the 35 percent quota for women in line with the Gender Parity Law of 2016. The Government must do more to ensure the political participation of women in all decision-making bodies through effective legal frameworks and policies. 

In the run up to the local elections scheduled for the end of this year, it is essential to further strengthen and protect civic space, including for women’s human rights organizations and women human rights defenders. Ensuring that the elections are inclusive of women and that women candidates are protected from harassment, intimidation, and violence, is equally critical.  The Government must also guarantee that women from minority groups and those internally displaced obtain appropriate identification documents on a non-discriminatory basis to ensure their right to vote.  

This overview underscores clearly that despite some advances made by the Government, with the support of MINUSCA, including its Human Rights Division, our Office and our partners, much work remains to be done to ensure the enjoyment of human rights, notably by women and girls in the Central African Republic. 

Ending the violence by the parties to the conflict is an essential first step towards preventing the suffering of civilians. I call on the authorities to adopt strengthened measures to address impunity, to support transitional justice and to address the root causes of violations. I also encourage the authorities to strengthen their cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms and to accelerate the implementation of those mechanisms’ recommendations. 

Our Office remains ready to continue to provide support through technical cooperation in priority areas. In this context, I also call on the international community to mobilize and provide much-needed support to the Central African Republic in order to ensure it remains on a path towards accountability and the promotion and protection of human rights for all. 

Thank you.