UN urges steps to end impunity for rights abuses in CAR
Feb 11, Bangui: As the Central African Republic (CAR) prepares for the second round of presidential elections this weekend, a new United Nations report detailing violations and human rights abuses in the strife-torn nation's capital late last year has prompted the head of the UN peacekeeping mission there to call for urgent measures in the fight against impunity and to prevent future violations.
The report, which will be released later this month, details grave human rights abuses committed following the eruption of violence in the capital city of Bangui, from 26 September to 20 October 2015. The period was marked by the targeting and killing of civilians, and widespread looting and burning of houses and property, among other human rights violations.Peaceful and legitimate elections will mark a major step towards reconciliation, justice and sustainable peace in CAR.
In a statement released this morning, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA), Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, called on CAR authorities, armed groups and the international community to “support the electoral process, to reject all forms of violence, and to respect the results of the polls.”
“Peaceful and legitimate elections will mark a major step towards reconciliation, justice and sustainable peace in CAR,” he added.
Expressing concern “that the perpetrators of grave violations of human rights will enjoy impunity,” he reiterated the UN's commitment to improving the administration of justice in the country.
In compiling the report, MINUSCA investigators documented multiple human rights violations, including at least 41 civilians killed and at least 17 injured; instances of rape and other forms of sexual violence; kidnapping and unlawful detention; and the pillaging, looting and destruction of property. The report quotes extracts from the testimony of witnesses and victims.
The Mission also observed and documented the widespread and systematic looting and destruction of property, including the burning of many houses and theft of humanitarian resources, such as medical equipment, from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
The mission notes that the actual number of casualties and violations is likely to be “far higher” than that detailed in the report, because in the aftermath of the crisis, investigations were constrained by ongoing insecurity and restrictions on movement, particularly in the predominantly Muslim areas of Bangui.
While the majority of violations and abuses were committed by the anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka armed groups and their affiliates, the report also details human rights violations committed by members of the CAR armed forces.
The weakness of State authorities in Bangui, and their widespread absence outside the capital, means there is a serious risk that those responsible for human rights violations will enjoy impunity, the report concludes. The violence in Bangui also set off a series of violent incidents throughout the CAR, including in Bambari, Kaga-Bandoro, Bouar, Carnot and Sibut.
The Oslo Times