OHCHR / CAR HUMAN RIGHTS

Preview Language:   Original
25-Jul-2022 00:02:45
UN reports detail serious violations, some possibly amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity in Central African Republic (CAR). OHCHR

Available Language: French
Type
Language
Format
Acquire
/
French
Other Formats
Description
STORY: OHCHR / CAR HUMAN RIGHTS
TRT: 2:45
SOURCE: OHCHR
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: FRENCH / NATS

DATELINE: 25 JULY 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / FILE


SHOTLIST:

RECENT – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1.Wide shot, exterior United Nations in Geneva

25 JULY 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. SOUNDBITE (French) Marta Hurtado, spokesperson, UN Human Rights Office:
“The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today released two reports on extremely disturbing recent events in the Central African Republic. The first report reviews how a pro-government militia carried out an attack on the village of Boyo from December 6 to 13, 2021. At least 20 civilians were killed, five women and girls raped, some 547 houses burned and looted, and over a thousand villagers forced to flee. The Boyo attack is one of the first cases where the Government, together with members of foreign private military companies, allegedly trained and armed locally recruited youths and created militias to enter villages under the control of armed groups. The report concludes that the acts perpetrated in Boyo, if qualified by a competent court, could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. We strongly condemn these horrific acts. The Government must end all violations, whether committed by its forces, affiliated pro-government militias or foreign private military companies, and bring to justice all those directly or indirectly involved. The second report describes how specific armed groups perpetrated recurrent acts of sexual violence, in a systematic and widespread manner, committed between December 2020 and early March 2022, by members of the Popular Front for the Renaissance of the Central African Republic and by the Unite for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), both affiliated with the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) in the prefectures of Mbomou and Haute-Kotto. According to information collected during the reporting period, nearly 245 women and girls were victims of sexual violence. Most of the victims, aged between 8 and 55, were gang raped. The stories of cruelty told to us by victims of sexual slavery and sexual violence describe crimes that should never have happened. Yet it is alarming to note that not only have they taken place, but that they continue to occur. These atrocities are totally unacceptable and must be stopped immediately. We urge the Central African Government to take urgent measures, in full respect of international law, to regain control of the entire territory and restore State authority within the framework of the rule of law.”
[French]
«Le Haut-Commissariat des Nations Unies aux droits de l'homme a publié aujourd'hui deux rapports sur des événements extrêmement troublants survenus récemment en République centrafricaine. Le premier rapport passe en revue comment une milice pro-gouvernementale a mené une attaque contre le village de Boyo du 6 au 13 décembre 2021. Au moins 20 civils ont été tués, cinq femmes et filles violées, quelque 547 maisons incendiées et pillées, et plus de mil villageois forcés de fuir. L'attaque de Boyo est l'un des premiers cas où le Gouvernement, conjointement avec des membres de sociétés militaires privées étrangères, aurait entraîné et armé des jeunes recrutés localement et créé des milices pour pénétrer dans des villages sous le contrôle de groupes armés. Le rapport conclut que les actes perpétrés à Boyo, si qualifiés par une juridiction compétente, pourraient constituer des crimes de guerre et des crimes contre l'humanité. Nous condamnons fermement ces actes horribles. Le Gouvernement doit mettre un terme à toutes les violations, qu'elles soient le fait de ses forces, de milices pro-gouvernementales affiliées ou de sociétés militaires privées étrangères, et traduire en justice tous ceux qui sont directement ou indirectement impliqués. Le second rapport décrit comment des groupes armés spécifiques ont perpétré des actes récurrents de violence sexuelle, de manière systématique et généralisée, commis entre décembre 2020 et début mars 2022, par des membres du Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique et par l'Unité pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC), tous deux affiliés à la Coalition des patriotes pour le changement (CPC) dans les préfectures de Mbomou et de la Haute-Kotto. Selon les informations recueillies au cours de la période considérée, près de 245 femmes et filles ont été victimes de violences sexuelles. La plupart des victimes, âgées de 8 à 55 ans, ont subi des viols collectifs. Les récits de cruauté que nous ont racontés les victimes d'esclavage sexuel et de violence sexuelle décrivent des crimes qui n'auraient jamais dû se produire. Il est pourtant alarmant de constater que non seulement ils ont eu lieu, mais qu'ils continuent à se produire. Ces atrocités sont totalement inacceptables et il faut y mettre fin immédiatement. Nous exhortons le Gouvernement centrafricain à prendre des mesures urgentes, dans le plein respect du droit international, pour reprendre le contrôle de l'ensemble du territoire et rétablir l'autorité de l'État dans le cadre de l'État de droit. »

STORYLINE:

The UN Human Rights Office today issued two reports on extremely disturbing events recently occurring in the Central African Republic (CAR). One details a brutal, organised attack on a village by a pro-Government militia, while the second describes how specific armed groups have perpetrated recurring acts of sexual violence in a systematic and widespread manner.

Both reports are based on investigations by the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in CAR (MINUSCA).

The first report describes how a militia composed of fighters that were formerly part of a militia known as the “Anti-Balaka” carried out an attack on the village of Boyo in Ouaka Prefecture from 6 to 13 December 2021. It concludes that at least 20 civilians were killed, five women and girls raped, some 547 houses burned and looted, and more than 1,000 villagers forced to flee.

The militia used machetes in their attack on the unarmed civilians. They also held several hundred civilians for three days in the village mosque and threatened to kill them. The attack was seemingly conducted to target and punish the Muslim community of Boyo, which was perceived as being supportive of the Unité pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC), an armed group engaged in fighting the Government.

The Boyo attack is one of the first instances in the long-running armed conflict when the Government, jointly with members of private military companies, reportedly trained and armed locally recruited youth and created militias to enter villages under the control of armed groups. With their knowledge of the area, local recruits, trained and guided by members of the armed forces of the Central African Republic and foreign private military contractors were able to reach the remote village of Boyo on foot and identify their victims, the report says.

“I strongly condemn these horrific acts. The Government must put an end to all violations, whether by its forces, affiliated pro-Government militias, or foreign private military contractors, and hold all those directly and indirectly involved to account,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

Based on multiple witness accounts, the report identifies former Anti-Balaka “zone chiefs” from the region as being responsible for most of the documented incidents.

The report concludes that the acts perpetrated in Boyo may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Boyo attack confirms trends, documented by MINUSCA, where foreign private military contractors, operating under the direction or with the consent and acquiescence of the Government, use proxies to perpetrate attacks on the civilian population.

“As these proxies are ex-fighters from various armed groups or anti-Balaka, the possible consequences for the peaceful cohabitation of communities in CAR are deeply worrying,” said Hanan Talbi, director of MINUSCA’s Human Rights Division.

The second report is based on four investigative missions in Mbomou and Haute-Kotto prefectures, as well as the Human Rights Divisions’ regular monitoring and reporting work. It details conflict-related sexual violence committed from December 2020 to early March 2022 by members of the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC) and the UPC, both affiliated with the Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement (CPC).

The CPC is composed of six armed groups that signed the 6 February 2019 peace accord (Accord politique pour la paix et la reconciliation en Centrafrique), but subsequently disowned it, deciding to violently boycott the 27 December 2020 elections and try to take power by force.

The CPC managed to gain control of several regions, including Mbomou and Haute-Kotto prefectures - a region rich in natural resources such as uranium, gold and diamonds – where they committed gross human rights abuses and serious violations of international humanitarian law, in particular sexual violence.

“The cases of sexual violence documented by MINUSCA in Mbomou and Haute-Kotto prefectures confirm that the FPRC and USP perpetrated conflict-related sexual violence in a systematic and widespread manner,” the report says. MINUSCA is still documenting cases in regions under the control of these armed groups, indicating that this pattern of violence is ongoing.

According to the information gathered during the reporting period, 245 women and girls were victims of sexual violence. Most of the victims, aged between eight and 55, were gang-raped. Some of the worst violence was committed in the town of Bakouma, in Mbomou prefecture, which was under the control of the armed groups until May 2021.

Victims were raped as they went into the bush or to the market to find food, the report says. Armed groups from the FPRC would also go looking for young women and girls in their homes and take them back to their base, where they would be raped or gang-raped. Some victims were released but others were kept as sexual slaves and repeatedly raped for days on end.

“This unprecedented level of sexual violence in CAR is shocking and heart-breaking,” said the High Commissioner.

“The brutal stories we heard from victims of sexual slavery and sexual violence depict crimes that should never have happened. Alarmingly though, they not only took place but are still being committed. These atrocities are utterly unacceptable and must be brought to an end immediately,” Bachelet said, urging the CAR Government to do take urgent steps, in full compliance with international law, to regain control over the entire territory and re-establish State authority under the rule of law. The UN Human Rights Chief acknowledged and welcomed the steps taken by the judicial authorities and other State institutions to investigate these allegations, while stressing the importance of ensuring all perpetrators are held accountable to break the cycle of impunity.

Both reports contain a set of recommendations, including urging armed groups to cease all attacks on and reprisals against the civilian population, including through acts of sexual violence, and to lay down their arms and re-engage in the peace process as the only viable path for sustainable peace and reconciliation in CAR. They also call on the Government to put in place concrete, effective measures to protect civilians and prevent future human rights violations and abuses in areas affected by violence and armed conflict.
Series
Category
Geographic Subjects
Creator
OHCHR
Alternate Title
unifeed220725c
Asset ID
2909360