Central African Republic: The International Community must Help the Country Surmount the Current Chaos

Press release
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Following a fact-finding mission in the Central African Republic, FIDH published a report entitled : " Central African Republic, a country in the hands of Seleka war criminals".The report was released ahead of a special meeting on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) scheduled for 25 September 2013, on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly (UNGA).

The international community should spare no effort to ensure the protection of the population and respect for human rights in CAR. In this respect, the ongoing discussions within the United Nations Security Council for a resolution on the situation and the renewal of the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office for the Central African Republic (BINUCA), as well as the interactive dialogue regarding the situation in CAR scheduled to take place within the current session of the Human Rights Council must result in concrete commitments.

« If the international community does not act with firm measures, serious crimes against the population will multiply, and the current lawlessness will have disastrous consequences on the security in the sub-region, » said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

Ever since they brought one of their leaders to power following the 24 March 2013 coup, Seleka rebels – more than 10,000 men led by Central African, Chadian, and Sudanese warlords - control the country and terrorize the population in the absence of law enforcement and national justice. After a fact-finding mission in July, in Bangui and in the north of the country, FIDH estimated that more than 400 murders had been committed by members of Seleka since the overthrow of power. The report presents many testimonies of victims and witnesses involving rape, kidnapping, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, racketeering, systematic looting and villages set on fire by these armed men. The 20 August killing of Boy-Rabe, and the recent bloody fightings in Bossangoa involving an armed group that has availed itself of the deposed president François Bozizé, further attest to the chaotic situation.

In this context, FIDH can only note the inability of the troops of the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in Central African Republic (MICOPAX) to respond to the security challenge. FIDH thus welcomed the decision of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, to replace this force with the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) under the auspices of the African Union, and in particular to increase the troops from 1,300 to 3,600, while still calling for support from the UN.

FIDH considers it essential that the international community seize the opportunity of the next meetings on the situation in CAR at the Security Council, at the Human Rights Council, and on the sidelines of the UNGA, to reinforce the MISCA forces, means of action, and mandate. This mission must establish bases in the major cities of the country and have a wide range of action in the provinces. The MISCA must contribute to genuine disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of fighters, collaborate with BINUCA and authorities to create reform of the defense and security forces and help restore the authority of the State throughout the territory. FIDH also calls for the deployment of independent observers to monitor compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law during the implementation of MISCA’s mandate.

Further, the international community must contribute to the fight against impunity in the country by including in the mandate of the MISCA the possibility for supporting justice initiatives, both national and international. The international community should also support the establishment of a specific mixed jurisdiction, which would prosecute perpetrators of crimes under international law in complementarity with the International Criminal Court (ICC) when appropriate. In this regard, FIDH urges the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC to investigate the crimes perpetrated and to prosecute those responsible. The Assembly of State Parties to be held in November must absolutely provide the ICC with adequate means to effectively carry out its investigations and prosecutions.

« Impunity is a major cause of chronic instability in CAR. Amnesty laws, and the failure of justice to judge international crimes, have bred repeated serious violations of human rights, », said Eric Plouvier, member of FIDH mission to CAR.

FIDH also calls on the international community to adopt punitive measures against Seleka leaders and warlords, including the freezing of financial assets.

Lastly, FIDH believes that the assistance of the international community must be accompanied by a clear human rights’ roadmap to be implemented by CAR authorities to ensure stability and democratic rule of law. Notably, this roadmap should include a reform of the justice system, harmonization of national legislation with international standards of human rights; respect for fundamental freedoms; the protection of the rights of women, journalists and human rights defenders, and the fight against corruption. Strengthening the mandate of BINUCA will help monitor and support the implementation of such a roadmap.

Read the report "Central African Republic, a country in the hands of Seleka war criminals".

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