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Launching the Mapping Report

Documenting serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Central African Republic between January 2003 and December 2015

Statement delivered in Bangui by the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights (Translated from French)

Your excellencies, dear colleagues,

It is a great honour to come from the United Nations Headquarters in New York to Bangui, to attend the launch of the Mapping Report documenting the serious violations committed within the country between 2003 and 2015, commissioned last year by the Security Council.

This document comes to put on the historical record the memory of the many victims, in their majority civilians, and seeks for them to no longer remain under the shadow of the atrocities committed.

We salute the work of the peacekeeping troops, who contribute on a daily basis to the protection of civilians and to security in the Central African Republic. The important role of these soldiers should be noted, but likewise that of the international forces within the framework of joint military operations. These contributions to reducing the violence caused by the armed groups have at times been made at the cost of their lives.

I wish to highlight the key role of the African Union, and in particular of the "sister countries" of this Republic.
In 2015 the transition government created the Special Criminal Court to investigate and try crimes under international law. As a court that is national, while composed of both national and international personnel, this Special Criminal Court was designed to contribute to the restoration of the rule of law and the advancement of reconciliation, by bringing the cycle of impunity to an end.

For some months now the resurgence of attacks by the armed groups on the civilian population in several regions has been disturbing, putting into jeopardy the hard-earned relative calm in Bangui and some other towns. We firmly condemn these attacks aimed at defenceless civilians.

Please let me underline our objectives:

First of all, the Mapping Project has made possible the documenting of 13 years of successive conflicts in the Central African Republic. It may provide a foundation for the existing agencies, such as the national courts and the Special Criminal Court, in so far as it looks at the history of past events and constitutes an initial step in proving the violations committed. We encourage research and academic centres, as well as civil society, to supplement and deepen these preliminary documentation efforts.

The report identifies the existing approaches in the field of justice, and recommends additional mechanisms. In this respect, I welcome the courageous initiatives for reconciliation undertaken by peace committees and religious leaders.
Transitional justice is based on acknowledging victims' fundamental rights: the right to justice; the right to know the truth; the right to reparations; and the right to prevention of the reoccurrence of such violations in the future.

Judicial proceedings should play an essential role in looking to establish the responsibility of the perpetrators of violations and to grant redress to the victims. We know that this report is already making some perpetrators of violations anxious, because it sends out a clear message that they will not escape justice. The Mapping Report will aid the work of the Special Criminal Court, which has a mandate that covers the violence committed since 2003 up to the present. Indeed, all of the courts for the crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, in Rwanda and in Sierra Leone needed to conduct an analysis of the conflict and documentation of the crimes. It is this preliminary analysis that the Mapping Report delivers to us today.

The goal is thus to follow through on both the commitments made by the Central African authorities, as well as on the pledges of support from the international community to fight against impunity and contribute to conflict prevention.

This struggle is presently more urgent than ever. During my stay here, I have had many exchanges with Central Africans from a variety of social and religious sectors. All have expressed to me a shared desire: that justice be done; that an amnesty is unacceptable; that arrests be made of the criminals; and that a lasting peace take root in this beautiful country. And everyone shared with me their deep frustration, anger and weariness associated with the slow progress made in all of these areas.

The report that the United Nations is delivering today is a tool, a support for every Central African, every partner and every sister country of the Central African Republic that is fighting for justice and reconciliation. It embodies a key message that justice will come, and that it will come for everybody, including the big fish on all sides. The people has waited long enough.

The 13 years documented by this report have been marked by high-intensity conflicts, affecting civilians in particular, among which women and children. It recounts numerous incidents, including: extrajudicial executions; cases of torture and inhuman treatment; rapes, sometimes collective; cases of entire villages being burnt to the ground; the recruitment of thousands of children by armed groups; and further, attacks on humanitarian actors and peacekeepers. Some of these violations may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Today, and in the context of the seminar that will follow, the Central African state and the United Nations would like to recall that the protection of civilian populations must remain the driver of all of our actions. The seminar will permit presentation of the content of the report, its methodology and its recommendations. But this report is not an end in itself. It is a first step that must be followed by concrete deeds, such as adoption of a national strategy for protecting victims and witnesses.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, along with myself, think especially of the millions of victims of past violations and of those that continue to be subjected to them within the country. We encourage the Central African authorities and their partners, including the United Nations, to fulfil the aspirations for justice and reconciliation that have been so clearly expressed and so long awaited by the Central African population.

 Thank you.