UN Oral Statement on Central African Republic

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September 2015

Agenda Item 10
Interactive Dialogue with Independent Expert on Sudan

speaker: Sini Maria Heikkila
NGO: Jubilee Campaign

Thank you Mr President.

Jubilee Campaign together with Christian Solidarity Worldwide thanks the Independent Expert Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum for her comprehensive report on the Central African Republic which also covers the situation for religious communities.

In the last 12 months, the transitional government of the Central African Republic has made progress in addressing the humanitarian and human rights crisis. The delivery of the Bangui Forum for National Reconciliation and the pledge to establish a Special Criminal Court charged with investigating serious human rights violations are significant achievements. Holding perpetrators of human rights violations to account is a vital element in addressing widespread impunity and delivering justice to victims.

Despite signing agreements to end hostilities, anti-Balaka and former Séléka remain the main perpetrators of violence in most of the country. Civil administration has yet to be restored in the north-east and the south where the anti-Balaka and Séléka have strongholds. These groups have splintered into smaller units each with their own leadership, which poses an additional challenge to the enforcement of peace agreements and adds to growing insecurity. Reports of violence committed by Séléka-backed Fulani herdsmen have also increased. On 16 February 2015, Fulani herdsmen in Kaga-Bandoro destroyed farmland, homes and a church, forcing local inhabitants over a 30km2 area to flee. The local population has been prevented from returning to their farmlands, which have been taken over by the herdsmen for animal grazing.

While the international peacekeeping mission has played a crucial role in reducing armed clashes, the number of peacekeepers has proved inadequate to ensure the establishment of law and order. Given the shocking reports of sexual abuse of children by both the French Sangaris troops and MINUSCA troops, we call for perpetrators to be brought to justice and for the rapid publication of the independent investigation on peacekeeping missions. The wider problem of sexual violence in the country needs to be tackled effectively, particularly by creating facilities where victims can receive appropriate treatment and by the restoration of criminal justice systems to prosecute perpetrators of violence effectively.

Mr President, we commend the peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts of religious leaders, particular those of Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of the Catholic Archdiocese of Bangui, Imam Omar Kobine Layama, head of the country’s Islamic community, and Evangelical Alliance leader Nicolas Guerekoyame Gbangou. Efforts to reconcile different religious communities play a crucial role in rebuilding the nation of the Central African Republic.

Ensuring free and fair elections is vital to the nation’s future. With only partial restoration of civilian administration, and outdated electoral registers from 2011, further support and engagement from the international community will be important in guaranteeing an effective electoral process and fair elections.

While the main responsibility for guaranteeing human rights rests with the transitional government, the international community has a role to play. We encourage the Council to renew its commitment to the government of President Samba-Panza as it seeks to implement the ambitious Republican Pact for Peace, National Reconciliation and Reconstruction, its Disarmament, Demobilisation and Rehabilitation programme and the Special Criminal Court, and to deliver democratic elections free from irregularities. We urge the members of the Human Rights Council to take this responsibility seriously and engage effectively with the transitional government in the country’s peace and transitional justice and electoral processes.

Thank you Mr President.