Human Rights chief wraps up first mission to Central African Republic

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Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein addresses a seminar on the fight against impunity in the Central African Republic (CAR) in the capital Bangui. Photo: MINUSCA

Upcoming elections in the Central African Republic (CAR) will be a "crucial test" of the country's progress towards peace and democracy, the UN Human Rights High Commissioner said on Friday.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein concluded a four-day visit to the CAR where he said the human rights situation "is still a cause of anxiety" for both citizens and the United Nations.

The Central African Republic has experienced more than two years of violence between Muslim and Christian militias, which has displaced nearly one million people.

Dianne Penn reports.

The UN Human Rights High Commissioner acknowledged recent positive developments in the CAR.

They include a decision to allow people who have fled to neighbouring countries to vote in elections.

However, he pointed out that security remains a challenge.

“The country is still gripped with fear, and its people remain terribly divided after a conflict that tore apart the existing social, cultural, political and economic structures and led to the forced displacement of close to one million people, in most cases along religious or ethnic lines.  More than 800,000 are still displaced, more than half of them now as refugees in neighbouring countries.”

The UN human rights chief said "notorious criminals and killers must be brought to justice," regardless of their affiliations.

But, he added, for this to happen, government and the international community will need to step up efforts to create a working justice system.

Mr Al Hussein said as justice and security are linked, more must be done to end what he characterized as "the current vicious circle of violence and impunity."

The Central African Republic will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in October, a "crucial test of CAR's progress towards peace and democracy," in the words of the High Commissioner.

He said he has reminded political leaders of their "large responsibility" in this process.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’29″

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