Hate speech in the Central African Republic may be “precursor to genocide”

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Refugees from Central African Republic gather at a site in eastern Cameroon. © UNHCR/K.Daimon

A commission tasked with investigating human rights violations in the Central African Republic is expected in the country on Tuesday to begin gathering evidence.

The International Commission of Inquiry was established by the UN Security Council and mandated to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and compile information, to help identify the perpetrators of such violations and abuses.

Speaking in Geneva on Monday, the chairman of the Commission, Bernard Acho Muna, said the spread of hate speech as well as the collapse of law and order in the Central African Republic is likely to be a precursor to serious human rights violations including genocide.

He said the Central African Republic had gone through several periods of political instability and violence with no accountability for crimes committed.

He expressed the hope that the inquiry will be a start to the end of impunity in the country.

“We would like to talk to the refugees, groups of Muslims or groups of Christians who are running away from violence. They have a story to tell. The stories they tell might lead us to be able to give a better picture to the security council. We have also heard reports of genocide. I can tell you from my Rwandan experience that there is definitely a question of hate propaganda. I think it is implied in our mandate to see that we don’t wait until genocide has been committed and then we call for prosecution. I think it is in our mandate to see how we can stop any advances towards genocide. We will be able to make recommendations to the security council in view of the hate messages that are already going through. I hope this is only noise and when you put troops on the ground then law and order, it might disappear.”

The Commission is expected to submit its initial report to the security council within six months.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 2.06″

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