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UN Human Rights Council: Interactive Dialogue on the Human Rights Situation in the Central African Republic

HRC 24th Session: Statement Delivered Under Item 10

Human Rights Watch welcomes the report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the High Commissioner to the Central African Republic and shares the conclusions that “both the forces of the former Government and the non-State armed group Séléka committed serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law during the conflict.”

Human Rights Watch research confirms the deliberate killing of civilians – including women, children, and the elderly – between March and June 2013 and the intentional destruction of more than 1,000 homes, both in the capital, Bangui, and in the provinces. Human Rights Watch documented the deaths of scores of people from injuries, hunger or sickness.Schools and churches were also looted and burned. The Seleka killed scores of civilians trying to flee and have prompted whole communities to escape into the bush.As soon as the Seleka took Bangui on March 24, its fighters started to attack civilians and pillage the city. They began targeting members of the national army, the Central African Armed Forces (Forces Armées Centrafricaines, FACA), and summarily executed men it believed were FACA members.

Interim President Michel Djotodia has denied that Seleka fighters have committed abuses, and continues to shift blame for the violence between Bozizé loyalists, “false Seleka,” and bandits. But at least one Seleka official in the field admitted responsibility for some attacks to Human Rights Watch. Evidence indicates that Seleka fighters forced villagers out of their homes in order to loot them.

In 2013, the overwhelming majority of attacks against civilians were committed in Seleka-held territory—including by very young fighters, some as young as 13 years old. The Bozizé government, and particularly the Presidential Guard, have also been implicated in serious human rights abuses, including in an illegal detention facility at the Bossembélé military training center.

The transitional government appears unable to rein in Seleka forces or enforce security in the country. On September 13, transitional President Djotodia dissolved the Seleka coalition and announced official state forces were in charge of security. We are concerned that to date, no detail was provided as to how these forces would disarm the thousands of Seleka fighters across the country. In addition, the government remains unwilling to recognize that Seleka is committing abuses and fails to bring those responsible to justice. The Seleka should immediately end its killings and pillage, restore order, and allow access to desperately needed humanitarian assistance. The Seleka leadership needs to take all necessary measures to control its forces, denounce killings by its members and supporters, restore civilian administration throughout the country, and ensure accountability for the crimes committed.

The UN Security Council should expand the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) to allow the mission to monitor, investigate and report publicly to the Council on any abuses or violations of international human rights or humanitarian law committed anywhere in the country. The Human Rights Council also has a responsibility to address the ongoing crisis in the Central African Republic. It should fully support the recommendations made by the High Commissioner, including through the establishment of a special procedure to monitor and report on the situation in the country, and with the priority mandate to strengthen the justice system and combat impunity. 

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