Military operations by government security forces against armed opposition groups, supported by various armed elements and foreign private contractors, have also allegedly resulted in serious human rights violations, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. Allegations of murder, conflict-related sexual violence, and serious violations and abuse of children have been leveled against all sides.
In the last three months of 2021, the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) documented 363 cases of human rights violations, abuses and violations of the law by international humanitarian assistance, many of which are extremely serious. 848 victims were recorded.
About 59% of these incidents are attributed to armed groups that signed the Peace Agreement in February 2019.
National security forces and their allies are responsible for 40% of incidents, a sharp increase from the 23% reported in January 2021.
‘Russian bilateral forces’ accused of extortion, torture or threats
Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council, Bachelet expressed concern that the government’s response to armed groups increasingly includes arbitrary arrests of members of already vulnerable communities, such as Muslims and Fulani, whom they associate with armed groups. “This system of violations affecting minorities is deeply disturbing,” she said.
Generally speaking, the rights of many people are being violated, and targeted discrimination and abuse again risk “provoking a new cycle of violence along communal, religious and ethnic lines.” “The setbacks for peace and reconciliation as a result of such a development would be serious,” she said.
For his part, Yao Agbetse, an independent expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, indicated that he received “several concurring testimonies about violations committed by Russian bilateral forces against the civilian population.” These include “sexual assault, acts of intimidation, home demolition, threats, racketeering.”
“Russian bilateral forces are also accused of acts of torture, cruel, degrading, inhuman and degrading treatment, including on local storage facilities of state authorities in the interior of the country, in particular in the settlements of Aigbando, Bambari, Beloko, Bossangoa, Boyo, Bria . and flour,” said Yao Agbetse.
The Wagner group was accused of “systematic obstruction of the work of investigators”
In addition, the UN Independent Expert also accused the Wagner group of “systematic obstruction of the work of investigators.” “Russian bilateral forces sometimes obstruct investigations in certain places where alleged human rights violations have been committed,” he said.
On this occasion, he recalled that the Special Investigation Commission of the Government of the Central African Republic had concluded that the violations had been committed by Russian bilateral forces.
“Due to the nature of the treaty relationship between the CAR, a subject of international law, and the Russian bilateral force, which is not recognized under international law, and in the absence of any other publicly available information regarding treaty provisions, the responsibility for the documented violations lies with the Central African state, which should diligently take all necessary measures to ensure justice for the victims,” he said.
In these conditions, he considers it necessary to take appropriate measures “as soon as possible”. The goal is to end these violations of civilian rights, covert or open tensions between Russian allies and the Central African defense and security forces, and all obstruction to MINUSCA operations and the work of humanitarian organizations. .
On the other hand, “reducing the harmfulness of the armed groups, in particular UPC, 3R, ex-selek, anti-balaka” did not prevent them from continuing to create threats and abuses against the population. Thus, these rebel groups continue to violate the rights of the civilian population by making hasty incursions day and night into villages and illegal collection of taxes on the roads.
CAR intends to shed light on all accusations of human rights violations
The delegation of the Central African Republic recalled the measures taken by Bangui to fight impunity without directly commenting on the accusations leveled against Wagner. “Many measures are being taken to make justice more accessible and fair for all Central Africans,” said Arnaud Jubai Abazen, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Central African Republic.
In addition, a judicial investigation into the report of the Special Commission of Inquiry is ongoing to “shine allegations of human rights violations identified in the past year by the MINUSCA Human Rights Division.” Similarly, Bangui ordered the opening of judicial investigations into numerous alleged cases of human rights violations committed within the country.
According to the UN, a direct consequence of this violence is that more than 1.4 million people have been displaced from their homes and that 3.1 million people – 63% of the population – are in need of protection and humanitarian assistance. “Never in the past five years have there been so many people in dire need in the Central African Republic,” concluded High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet.