Disarming armed groups, civilian protection crucial for Central African Republic – UN expert

Concluding her seventh visit in the country, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic (CAR), expressed concern about the threats from armed groups and large-scale banditry to the protection of civilians, natural resources and to the crisis recovery process.

In a press release issued by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) yesterday, Ms. Keita Bocoum urged the Government, in coordination with international forces, to implement robust measures to stop the fighting, ensure the protection civilians and humanitarian actors, and to assist victims and displaced people.

Ms. Keita Bocoum also invited the authorities to validate the roadmap on the justice reform and to implement the first emergency actions, including holding the second session of the Criminal Court, and stressed the need for non-judicial mechanisms to seek truth and reparation measures in order to shed light on the past, move away from the “legacy of violence” and ensure the guarantee of non-repetition.

The expert welcomed recent progress towards the establishment of the Special Criminal Court mandated to investigate crimes committed since 2003 and encouraged the authorities to speed up the recruitment process, initiate investigations quickly and establish a protection program for victims and witnesses who will participate in court proceedings.

She also welcomed the authorities’ decision to implement the measures of the Republican Pact adopted at the Bangui Forum last May, including on the fight against impunity, and on the inclusion of individuals and groups who feel marginalized.

The release also noted that during her visit, the Independent Expert met with representatives of the new Government, including the Prime Minister, ministers of justice, interior, public security and the administration of the territory, social affairs and reconciliation, and environment. She also held discussions with the President of the National Assembly and his executive office, international partners, representatives of civil society and religious authorities.

Recalling her meeting with civil society representatives, the expert said they “expressed expectation on the new government to implement key measures, in an inclusive and strategic manner, particularly in the areas of security and justice.” She added that she also noted a “frustration” and a “feeling of exclusion” among the youth, women and religious communities in Bangui and within the country.

Ms. Keita Bocoum also inquired into the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against the international forces. She noted the efforts carried out to investigate the allegations, protect the victims and witnesses and prevent from this scourge.

On 28 June at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ms. Keita Bocoum will discuss the issue of transitional justice with representatives of the Central African authorities, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA>) and civil society organizations. The Independent Expert will submit her final report to the Council in September 2016.

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