Human Rights Context
The Human Rights Division (HRD) of the multidimensional integrated United Nations mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) was established when the mission was set up in 2014. The HRD consists of 105 human rights, women protection and child protection officers deployed in eight regional offices, four sub-offices and at the headquarters in Bangui. It operates in pursuance of MINUSCA’s human rights mandate laid out in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2301 of July 2016. The HRD monitors, investigates, analyses and reports internally and publicly on international human rights and humanitarian law violations committed throughout Central African Republic (CAR), including by armed groups.
Despite some progress on the human rights situation in the first semester of 2016, violations and abuses have increased in CAR since September 2016 as a result of violent confrontations between armed groups. The areas of Koui, Bocaranga, Kaga-Bandoro, Bria and Bambari were particularly affected. The protection crises have shown that intercommunal and sectarian resentments have worsened in areas that continue to experience active conflict, but have also resurfaced in areas considered more stable since Faustin Archange Touadera took office as the new president of CAR on 31 March 2016.
Ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka factions were the main perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses which included extra-judicial killings; cruel, inhumane and degrading treatments; sexual violence; arbitrary arrests and detentions; extortion; pillaging; as well as destruction of property. The LRA continued to commit widespread abuses against civilians, in the South-East of the country.
Achievements in 2016
Throughout 2016, the HRD provided support for the establishment of a National Commission for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (NCHRFF), organising consultations to review the law creating the Commission, in accordance with the Paris Principles. The HRD also worked with the United Nations Country Team in CAR to mainstream human rights in UN programmes. At the mission level, the HRD ensured that human rights policies and tools were integrated into the work of MINUSCA’s components, including police, military and substantive sections.
The HRD enhanced its monitoring, investigation and reporting of human right violations and abuses committed through CAR and issued monthly human rights analysis. It published two public reports on the situation of human rights in the country. The HRD also supported a six-month mapping exercise of violations and abuse of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed in CAR between 2003 and 2015.
With regards to the protection of victims and witnesses, the HRD recruited two international consultants to develop a mechanism to protect victims and witnesses as part of the national judicial system, with a focus on victims of sexual and gender-based violence. The HRD continued to support protection networks for victims/survivors and witnesses of human rights violations and abuses.
In 2016, the HRD continued to advance the efforts by national authorities to combat impunity and strengthen accountability and the rule of law, and supported the establishment of a Truth, Reconciliation, Justice and Reparation process in CAR.
In 2016, the HRD’s advocacy efforts resulted in the CAR Government ratifying new international human rights treaties and preparing its review by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2017.
The main priorities of the Human Rights Division in 2017
The HRD will support the CAR Government to develop strategies to protect victims and witnesses of international human rights and humanitarian law with a focus on victims of sexual and gender based violence. The HRD will help to establish and strengthen protection networks for victims and witnesses in three locations, as well as identify and build capacity of international and local partners to provide such support and assistance.
The HRD will provide support to mechanisms which fight against impunity, notably the Special Criminal Court. The HRD will support the publication and dissemination of the findings of the Mapping report to foster appropriation by CAR authorities, civil society organizations and the population. The findings will be shared with the Special Criminal Court to conduct thorough investigations that will lead to prosecution and contribute to the fight against impunity. The HRD, jointly with MINUSCA’s Justice and Corrections Section and other UNCT members will build the capacity of law enforcement officials including judges, lawyers, judicial police and court clerks to increase their capacity in the conduct of prosecutions and in the preservation of documentation.
Regarding transitional justice, the HRD will support the Government in establishing a Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission. The HRD will also support the Commission, once established, in developing a comprehensive reparation programme for victims, following wide consultations with the population.
The HRD will support the Mission in the conduct of disarmament, demobilization, reinsertion, and repatriation of armed elements and the security sector reform by screening/vetting CAR national security forces.
The HRD will also advocate and support the CAR Government so that it ratifies outstanding treaties and protocols. The HRD will engage with the national committee in charge of human rights reports so that it drafts and submits overdue reports to the relevant Human Rights Treaty Bodies.