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Human Rights Council: High Commissioner Expresses Concern over Increasing Incidents Involving Serious Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the Central African Republic, and Mission Finds Evidence of Human Rights Violations and Abuses Committed in Libya since 2016

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30 March 2022

30 March 2022
Morning

The Human Rights Council this morning continued work under its agenda item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building, holding a high-level interactive dialogue to assess the developments in the situation of human rights on the ground in the Central African Republic, and starting an interactive dialogue on the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on Libya.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, acknowledged efforts by the Government of the Central African Republic to give stronger emphasis to human rights.  There had also been some progress regarding national justice processes and the Special Criminal Court.  However, despite the unilateral ceasefire that was declared by the President on 15 October 2021, the country's conflict continued to generate severe violations and abuses of human rights by all parties.  Multiple armed groups continued to perpetrate serious human rights abuses.  Military operations against these groups by the Government's security forces, supported by various armed elements and foreign private contractors, had also reportedly resulted in serious human rights violations.  The increasing number of incidents involving serious human rights violations and abuses – and the rising role of the nation's defence forces and their allies in those violations – were matters of utmost concern. 

Lizbeth Cullity, Deputy Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, said despite concrete steps by the Government, the Mission remained concerned by the long-standing culture of impunity and the increase and gravity of human rights violations throughout the Central African Republic.  While the Mission's assistance enabled the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission to design its strategy, Ms. Cullity said she remained concerned about the ability of this institution to perform its tasks due to the lack of an adequate sustained budget and delays in obtaining office space and administrative capacity. 

Yao Agbetse, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, said that during his mission to the Central African Republic from 10 to 18 February 2022, it was brought to his attention that the reduction in the capacity to cause harm of the armed groups did not prevent them from continuing to threaten the population and commit abuses.  The Independent Expert also received several consistent reports of abuses committed by Russian bilateral forces against the civilian population, including sexual violence, intimidation, destruction of homes, threats, racketeering, as well as acts of torture, rape and sexual violence, cruel, humiliating, inhuman and degrading treatment, including on local representatives of the State authority in the hinterland. He was was firmly convinced that it was through dialogue and consensual and responsible political decisions that the Central African Republic would emerge from the current critical situation.

Arnaud Djoubaye Abazene, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Central African Republic, said the history of the Central African Republic was peppered with repeated military and political crises which not only weakened national unity and cohesion, but also caused human rights violations in the country.  With regard to transitional justice, the Government called for adequate resources to be put in place for the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission.  The Special Criminal Court was working with the Government to implement its mandate.  The Government continued to work tirelessly to restore peace and security, however, this process and the guarantee of human rights and stability for the country were encountering major obstacles in some areas, in particular those where there were still armed groups. 

Marie Edith Douzima-Lawson, President of the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, said the people of the Central African Republic wished to know the truth about all the painful events that had occurred, and wanted both individual and collective reparations.  Combatting impunity was a vital need for the country to find a way out of the repeated crises.  The Commission had asked the Government to earmark a Governmental building as permanent headquarters.  It was also lacking support personnel, resources for work and financial resources, but despite this it had not remained without taking action.  Technical support was needed, as was capacity building among Commissioners and logistical support.

Mohamed Bah, Representative of the African Union Office in the Central African Republic, said that the peace and reconciliation process in the Central African Republic was complex and multifaceted.  The consequences of this were serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as new phenomena such as the introduction of anti-personnel mines, and the participation of armed foreigners in the fighting.  Security was an indispensable condition for peace and respect for human rights in the Central African Republic.  It went without saying that the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission in this context would be confronted with many difficulties that would negatively impact on its mandate, foremost among which was the persistence of insecurity in certain regions. 

Fernand Mande Djapou, President of the Civil Society Working Group on Transitional Justice, said human rights violations in the Central African Republic were carried out by armed groups, including mercenaries.  These different entities had been committing targeted attacks and extrajudicial killings, enlisting children and restricting people’s movement.  These were causing great suffering.  The problem of anti-personnel mines or cluster munitions persisted.  On enforced disappearances, there was violence occurring, as well as the expropriation of lands, a serious problem, as people found themselves forced to leave their homes, with nowhere to go.  The resettlement of these people was vital.  Impunity was widespread, with an environmental impact on the forests and natural resources.  The Government must allocate premises to the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, and technical and financial partners must improve technical cooperation, improve capacity, and help train personnel. 

In the discussion on the Central African Republic, speakers remained concerned at the numerous acts of violence against the civilian population.  They were appalled by the reported high number of gender-based and conflict-related sexual violence, the grave violations against children, and the targeting of religious minorities.  Some speakers recalled the commitments made by the Central African authorities to combat impunity.  A firm and credible response to these serious human rights violations was expected as soon as possible.  Some speakers appreciated the efforts made by the Central African Government to support social peace, achieve national reconciliation and restore security and stability throughout the country. 

Speaking in the interactive discussion on the Central African Republic were the European Union, Norway on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Egypt, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Children’s Fund, Senegal, France, Venezuela, Luxembourg, China, Sri Lanka, Russian Federation, Benin, Morocco, Mauritania, Sudan, United States, Belgium, United Kingdom, Portugal, Ireland and Cameroon.

Also speaking were Centre d’études juridiques africaines (CEJA), International Federation of ACAT (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture), Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Meezaan Center for Human Rights, Association Manah for Human Rights and Immigration, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Maat for Peace, and Development, and Human Rights Association.

The Council also started an interactive dialogue on the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, pursuant to Council resolution 48/25.

Mohamed Auajjar, Chair of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, presented the second report of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya.  During this reporting period, the Mission went for the first time to Benghazi.  In that short first investigation period, the Mission found credible and reliable evidence that many human rights violations and abuses, violations of international humanitarian law and international crimes had been committed in Libya since 2016.  Given the breadth of the mandate of the Mission, and the number and complexity of the violations and abuses that occurred in Libya since 2016, further investigations were needed to comprehensively address the situation of human rights in Libya since 2016.  He therefore recommended to the Council to extend the Mission’s mandate once again.

Libya, speaking as the concerned country, said the Fact-Finding Mission would be vital in investigating allegations of human rights violations.  Since its inception, the Government had cooperated with it, and would continue to do so, in order to ensure that it could complete its mandate.  Libya was keen to combat illegal disappearance and detention, and the Government was making efforts in this regard, as it was to ensure respect for human rights and legal rules for inmates of detention institutions.  On enforced disappearance and torture, the Government would prevent and prosecute.  Illegal migration was a large challenge, and the violations that migrants were subjected to were mostly at the hands of illegal gangs, and the Government was making efforts to eliminate these. 

In the discussion on Libya, some speakers fully supported the mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission and the renewal of its mandate was strongly encouraged.  The situation for human rights in Libya remained deeply worrying.  Violence, intimidation and kidnapping continued to be rife throughout the country.  These offenses should be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators must be held accountable.  Some speakers appreciated Libya’s commitment to facilitate the work of the Mission so far, and reiterated the importance of continued and effective assistance.  They further appreciated the efforts of all the Libyan authorities, legislative, executive, and judicial, to promote and respect human rights.

Speaking in the interactive discussion on the situation in Libya were Finland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, European Union, Côte d’Ivoire on behalf of the African Group, Morocco on behalf of the Group of Arab States, Liechtenstein, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Egypt and Iraq.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here.  All meeting summaries can be found here.  Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-ninth regular session can be found here.

The Council will reconvene this afternoon at 3 p.m. to conclude the interactive dialogue on the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on Libya.  It will then hold an interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral update on Ukraine followed by the presentation of reports and updates under agenda item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building, and a general debate on that item.

High-Level Interactive Dialogue on the Situation of Human Rights in the Central African Republic

Keynote Statements

MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that after well over a decade of intense conflicts that had inflicted great suffering on millions of people, there was a pressing need for work to advance human rights, justice, and genuine reconciliation for the people of the Central African Republic.  She acknowledged efforts by the Government to give stronger emphasis to human rights, including through the appointment of two Minister Counsellors to the President to combat sexual violence in conflict, and to promote human rights and good governance.  There had been some progress regarding national justice processes and the Special Criminal Court.  However, despite the unilateral ceasefire that was declared by the President on 15 October 2021, the country's conflicts continued to generate severe violations and abuses of human rights by all parties.  According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as a direct result, over 1.4 million people had been forced to flee their homes, and 3.1 million people – 63 per cent of the population – were in need of humanitarian protection and assistance.  Multiple armed groups continued to perpetrate serious human rights abuses.  Military operations against these groups by the Government's security forces, supported by various armed elements and foreign private contractors, had also reportedly resulted in serious human rights violations.  Killings, conflict-related sexual violence, and grave violations and abuses against children had been alleged against all parties.

During the last three months of 2021, the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic had documented 363 incidents of human rights violations, abuses and breaches of international humanitarian law – many extremely severe, with 848 victims.  Some 59 per cent of these incidents were attributed to armed groups that were signatories to the Peace Agreement of February 2019.  National security forces and their allies were responsible for 40 per cent of incidents – a sharp increase from 23 per cent in January 2021.  The High Commissioner said she was concerned that the Government's response to armed groups increasingly involved arbitrary arrests of members of already vulnerable communities, such as Muslims and Peuls, whom they associated with armed groups.  This pattern of violations affecting minority communities was deeply disturbing.  As this Council had repeatedly emphasised, impunity for serious human rights violations and other crimes was at the heart of the violence in the Central African Republic.  Recently, national courts had resumed criminal sessions, and magistrates were being re-deployed.  However, the fragile security context impeded their work.  The High Commissioner noted important progress in terms of transitional justice.  She called for a more consistent funding mechanism for the crucial work of the Special Criminal Court, and equally for greater national support to the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission.

Concluding, the High Commissioner said the increasing number of incidents involving serious human rights violations and abuses – and the rising role of the nation's defence forces and their allies in those violations – were matters of utmost concern.  The absence of accountability for such violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law paved the way for further cycles of violence across the country.  She urged all parties to comply with the ceasefire of 15 October 2021 and strongly encouraged the Government to put an end to violations by its forces and allies, and to hold all perpetrators of violations and abuses to account – including armed group leaders and personnel.

LIZBETH CULLITY, Deputy Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, explained that this year’s theme for the high-level interactive dialogue on the Central African Republic, which focused on the “situation of human rights, the reconciliation process, guarantees of non-recurrence and the work of the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission”, was very timely as a national political dialogue intended to promote reconciliation and social cohesion in the Central African Republic concluded very recently.  Ms. Cullity drew attention to the critical fact-finding work carried out by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic’s Human Rights Division.  In May 2021, the Government of the Central African Republic had established a Special Commission of Inquiry in response to allegations of serious human rights violations.  The Minister of Justice had furthermore referred cases to the judiciary for follow up and continued to report that he was taking immediate action to support the fight against impunity.  Despite these concrete steps, the Mission remained concerned by the long-standing culture of impunity and the increase and gravity of human rights violations throughout the country.  

The human rights report jointly published in August 2021 by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, as well as regular human rights reports shared with the Government, confirmed this pattern of violations.  In spite of these multifaceted challenges, national stakeholders were moving things forward to advance human rights and accountability.  Following the publication of the August 2021 joint report, the Government had appointed two focal points in the Ministry of Justice to regularly discuss progress made in implementing the report’s recommendations.

In conclusion, Ms. Cullity explained that the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic was leveraging its civilian and military assets to protect human rights.  With the United Nations technical and financial support to the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, the way for Central Africans to build a common memory, identify victims and provide them reparations was being paved.  The overarching goal was to build social cohesion in the present and for the future.  While the Mission's assistance enabled the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission to design its strategy, Ms. Cullity said she remained concerned about the ability of this institution to perform its tasks due to the lack of an adequate sustained budget and delays in obtaining office space and administrative capacity.  She remained focused on the fight against impunity and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, alongside the United Nations Country Team, continued to provide financial support to the Special Criminal Court.  Finally, she commended the Government’s swift response in certain instances when informed about serious violations.  

YAO AGBETSE, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, said that during his mission to the Central African Republic from 10 to 18 February 2022, it was brought to his attention that the reduction in the capacity to cause harm of the armed groups did not prevent them from continuing to threaten the population and commit abuses.  The Independent Expert also received several consistent reports of abuses committed by Russian bilateral forces against the civilian population, including sexual violence, intimidation, destruction of homes, threats, racketeering, as well as acts of torture, rape and sexual violence, cruel, humiliating, inhuman and degrading treatment, including on local representatives of the State authority in the hinterland. 

During his mission, Central African authorities and institutions as well as civil society organizations had expressed the need to strengthen efforts to provide more holistic responses to victims of conflict-related and gender-based sexual violence, Mr. Agbetse continued.  The Independent Expert welcomed the appointment of a Minister advising the Head of State on matters relating to the promotion of human rights and good governance.  Regarding the humanitarian situation, the humanitarian community in the Central African Republic estimated that 2 million people would need assistance by the end of 2022.  Mr. Agbetse was pleased with the strong presence of women in the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, which was led by a woman.  However, several challenges remained for its effective operationalisation.  The Commission did not have a permanent headquarters.  The Commission was also under-resourced and needed to have strategic and operational frameworks with an appropriate budget, in order to deploy its actions throughout the Central African Republic. 

In conclusion, Mr. Agbetse addressed the issue of the local elections planned for this year and for which the Central African Republic was preparing.  He called on the international community to support the organisation and security of the elections within the constitutional timeframe.  The necessary steps for free, transparent and peaceful elections needed to be taken now with the participation of women (at least 35 per cent), youth and refugees and displaced persons voluntarily resettled in their original localities.  The republican dialogue to which the Head of State committed himself to at the end of 2020 was held in Bangui from 21 to 27 March 2022.  Mr. Agbetse called on the authorities of the Central African Republic to implement, without delay, the recommendations made, to continue the dialogue with all actors, including those who did not participate in the republican dialogue, and to refrain from any initiative that could plunge the country back into uncertainty and violence.  Finally, the Independent Expert was firmly convinced that it was through dialogue and consensual and responsible political decisions that the Central African Republic would emerge from the current critical situation.

ARNAUD DJOUBAYE ABAZENE, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Central African Republic, said since the Central African Republic had gained sovereignty, it had acceded to almost all international and regional human rights legal instruments as well as United Nations human rights mechanisms.  However, the history of the Central African Republic was peppered with repeated military and political crises which not only weakened national unity and cohesion, but also caused human rights violations in the country.  The Head of State, after assuming leadership and promising to achieve security and peace and restoring the authority of the State in human rights, had focused on re-structuring the security and defence forces, bringing in major reform.  There had been progressive redeployment of the penitentiary infrastructure.  The Government was pursuing an agreement for peace and stabilisation, despite the actions of some armed groups.  There had been an opportunity for girls and women to be protected and participate in civil society.  Therapy had also been provided by the State, and the groundwork laid for reconciliation. The Government was tirelessly working to fight impunity, having made this the spinal cord of the next five years of efforts, working to ensure access to justice to all citizens with full investigations of all allegations of human rights violations, whoever the perpetrators may be.

With regard to transitional justice, the Government called for adequate resources to be put in place for the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission.  The Special Criminal Court was working with the Government to implement its mandate.  On its international obligations, the Government was working to put in place a new Committee with formulations for the Government on how to protect and promote human rights.  The formulation of the National Human Rights Policy was a priority for the Government, which would further prioritise it for its rapid adoption. Measures were being taken to support victims of sexual violence and to take rapid measures to ensure that this stopped, in particular through protecting women and children in times of conflict.  The Government was working to fight early marriage and also female genital mutilation in various areas of the country, ensuring follow-up of allegations and to collect statistics on these issues.  The Government had organised capacity building workshops to monitor human rights violations and ensure access by victims to justice.  The Government continued to work tirelessly to restore peace and security, however, this process and the guarantee of human rights and stability for the country, were encountering major obstacles in some areas, in particular those where there were still armed groups.  There was a need for multi-sectoral support from all partners in order to ensure the return to peace and security in the Central African Republic.

MARIE EDITH DOUZIMA-LAWSON, President of the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, said it was important to stress the importance of the Commission in the Central African Republic - 80 per cent of inhabitants thought it was possible to have lasting peace if the guilty were punished and there were no amnesties.  Since the death of the founding President, there had been a growing number of victims.  The people of the Central African Republic wished to know the truth about all the painful events that had occurred, and wanted both individual and collective reparations, including the punishment of the perpetrators of violence, as well as compensation and support for victims.  Combatting impunity was a vital need for the country to find a way out of the repeated crises.  National reconciliation and the restoration of the social fabric that had been broken were also required. This was the background to the establishment of the Commission.  Wide-ranging consultations had been held to establish its mandate and methods of work, as well as its membership.  Eighty-five per cent of the population thought the Commission stood for peace and could work without political influence. 

The idea was to provide redress for all victims, but to date none had been provided.  The mandate of the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission was to provide proposals in this regard to the Government.  It had asked the Government to earmark a Governmental building as permanent headquarters.  It was also lacking support personnel, resources for work and financial resources, but despite this had not remained without taking action.  Since August 2021, the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission had made progress, sharing experience with Commissions in several other countries, and had been able to carry out an immersion trip to South Africa.  Technical support was needed, as was capacity building among Commissioners and logistical support.  Transitional justice Commissions could not learn without exchanges of experience, and the country needed other countries to share their experience, such as Rwanda.

MOHAMED BAH, Representative of the African Union Office in the Central African Republic, explained that despite major steps forward, the situation in the Central African Republic continued to receive the sustained attention of the African Union and the countries of the sub-region.  Far from being an easy path, the peace and reconciliation process in the Central African Republic was complex and multifaceted, in the midst of an unpredictable environment that made the security challenges persistent.  The consequences of this were serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as new phenomena such as the introduction of anti-personnel mines, in violation of the Ottawa Convention, and the participation of armed foreigners in the fighting.  One of the positive developments in the implementation of the peace agreement was the effective launch of national popular consultations on 6 June 2019, in the seven main administrative regions of the Central African Republic, with 1,977 participants from different components of society.  A commission composed of representatives of the signatory parties was also set up to examine justice issues related to the conflict and submit its recommendations to the future Commission. 

In conclusion, Mr. Bah explained that security was an indispensable condition for peace and respect for human rights in the Central African Republic.  It went without saying that the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission in this context would be confronted with many difficulties that would negatively impact on its mandate, foremost among which was the persistence of insecurity in certain regions of the Central African Republic.  It was also fundamentally important that consistent methodological, material and financial support was provided to the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission so that it could accomplish its noble but difficult mission.

FERNAND MANDE DJAPOU, President of the Civil Society Working Group on Transitional Justice, said concerning the human rights violations in the Central African Republic, the situation in the field had been very tense after the failed coup d’état of December 2020.  These human rights violations were carried out by armed groups, including mercenaries.  These different entities had been committing targeted attacks and extrajudicial killings, enlisting children and restricting people’s movement.  These were causing great suffering.  There were also many barriers to going from one territory to another, and it was thus difficult to access justice, given the scope of the territory.  Other problems on access to justice included a shortage of basic social services, such as health and education, all of which had an impact on the people.  The problem of anti-personnel mines or cluster munitions persisted.  On enforced disappearances, there was violence occurring, as well as the expropriation of lands, a serious problem, as people found themselves forced to leave their homes, with nowhere to go.  The resettlement of these people was vital.  Impunity was widespread, with an environmental impact on the forests and natural resources.

The Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission was supposed to have technical and financial independence and yet it was under the technical unit, which was a violation of the law establishing it.  The Commission was supposed to be ready to operate, but it had not yet done much work, lacking headquarters, and was unable to carry out its work properly.  The State authorities had a poor view of the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, and this was causing serious problems, further affecting the work of the Commission.  The mandate required them to seek truth, seek justice for victims, and bring about national reconciliation.  There was a lack of awareness among the people of the mandate of the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission.  The Ministry on Human Rights was supposed to support it, but it lacked the resources to go to certain regions.  The Government must allocate premises to the Commission, and technical and financial partners must improve technical cooperation, improve capacity, and help train personnel.  Multi-faceted support was required.

Discussion

In the discussion on the Central African Republic, some speakers remained concerned about the numerous acts of violence against the civilian population.  The continuously deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in the Central African Republic was highlighted.  Speakers were appalled by the reported high number of cases of gender-based and conflict-related sexual violence, the grave violations against children, and the targeting of religious minorities.  Reported cases of sexual and gender-based violence had increased by 30 per cent compared to the previous year.  All allegations of violations and abuses needed to be effectively and independently investigated.  The targeting of humanitarian workers and the repeated attempts to obstruct the operations of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic were condemned in the strongest terms.  Speakers called on the Independent Expert to assess the effectiveness of existing accountability mechanisms to prevent further atrocities.  

Some speakers called for the demobilisation and disarmament of armed groups to be carried out within a formal framework agreed by the international community, in accordance with the commitments made by the Central African Republic.  Calls were made urging the international community to support the Government of the Central African Republic in its efforts to guarantee the human rights of its people, including their right to development.  Some speakers recalled the commitments made by the Central African authorities to combat impunity.  A firm and credible response to these serious human rights violations was expected as soon as possible.  It was also important that the Special Criminal Court be given sufficient means to implement its mandate.  The Government needed to continue to provide the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic and humanitarian organizations with access. 

Some speakers appreciated the efforts made by the Government of the Central African Republic to support social peace, achieve national reconciliation, and restore security and stability throughout the country.  Since the presidential election in the Central African Republic, the security situation has continued to improve.  State authority had been strengthened.  Speakers commended the efforts of the Central African Government to promote political dialogue with various parties, and to protect and respect human rights, despite the challenges it faced.  They encouraged the country to continue its efforts to improve the human rights situation; complete security sector reform efforts; disarm, demobilise and reintegrate combatants; and combat impunity in a way that prevented renewed violence.  The importance of providing technical support to the Government of the Central African Republic and building the capacities of its institutions in the field of human rights in line with its needs and priorities was stressed.  The importance of ensuring the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of the Central African Republic was affirmed. 

Concluding Remarks 

FERNAND MANDE DJAPOU, President of the Civil Society Working Group on Transitional Justice, said everything had been said by the Independent Expert and the French and Portuguese interventions.  These were issues that had largely been commented on.

MOHAMED BAH, Representative of the African Union Office in the Central African Republic, said the African Union wished to thank all participants for their statements and had listened carefully to the challenges. 

MARIE EDITH DOUZIMA-LAWSON, President of the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, said she had very few comments to make, other than she had heard that support would be provided to the Commission, and this was fully welcomed.

YAO AGBETSE, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, said there were three issues which needed to be underscored on impunity concerning sexual and gender-based violence linked to the conflict.  There should be more specific services available in shelters for the victims of these crimes.  He had called for special hearings in the court sessions.  International partners should provide technical support to the operationalisation of the Special Criminal Court.  The authorities should hand over Mr. Boba to the Special Criminal Court so that the hearings could continue.  With regards to the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, it was also vital to provide it with the necessary support so that it could carry out its mandate fully and independently.  Regarding domestic courts, judges, police and prosecutors must be deployed throughout the country. 

On disinformation about local elections, these elections were being prepared for this year and the international community should play a vital role in ensuring that they could be prepared in full security.  All participants should refrain from hate speech, including disinformation on social media.  There was a need for free, transparent and peaceful elections, with the participation of women on an equal basis, as well as young people, and displaced persons who were voluntarily returning to their places of origin.  Strengthening local governance was a vital means in order to tackle the plethora of challenges facing the country.  The authorities should continue the republican dialogue, and involve all stakeholders, as it was through consensus and responsible consensual decisions that the country would be able to exit the crisis.

LIZBETH ANNE CULLITY, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Deputy Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, said the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic was taking special measures to detain, transport and hand over suspects to the judiciary, and would continue to deliver on its mandated activities, including investigating human rights violations attributed to all persons.  More concrete steps were needed to be taken: the major challenge of accountability continued to be front and centre of the work.  The country needed concrete action from judicial and non-judicial mechanisms to deal with the impunity.  The international community must make every effort to end the cycle of violence by promoting the role of key stakeholders, placing victims at the centre of all actions to protect and promote human rights.  Impunity could be fought through a range of measures that addressed incitement to violence, among other points.  The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic would work to help expand the civic space and promote citizens’ empowerment, as this was the way to peace.

ARNAUD DJOUBAYE ABAZENE, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Central African Republic, said he was grateful to the international community, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, the Independent Expert and all those who had spoken in the debate.  The Central African Republic was a party to conventions on human rights and humanitarian law, and would work to ensure there was proper reporting of all human rights violations in the country.  The republican dialogue had breathed fresh air into the peace building efforts, and the Government was working to implement the commitments made there and in the Lwanda peace accords.  There were challenges to human rights, but with the participation of the Government and the international community, if they were working together, holistic answers would be found to ensure stability in the country.  Investigations had been opened, and the perpetrators of violence would be put on trial.  There had been disinformation campaigns.  There were no attacks on specific religious groups, and the State was working with the Reconciliation Commission to ensure that its mandate was discharged.  The Government pledged to the international community that it would pursue its agenda to ensure that it would achieve lasting peace and stability.

MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said regarding questions on accountability, there was an urgent need to strengthen the national justice system to allow it to play its role, and the international community should step up financial and technical support to national and international institutions, including the Reconciliation Commission.  There should be oversight mechanisms over the police and security forces.  These changes contributed towards accountability and due process.  The Government had taken steps to arrest the alleged perpetrators of human rights violations, however, the judicial proceedings had not yet taken place.  It was critical to make progress towards accountability, in full transparency, whilst keeping the population informed.  The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic’s Human Rights Division continued to investigate all allegations of human rights violations committed by security and armed groups. 

Local elections had not been held since 1988 - their holding would expand civil society, including women and youth, at the local level, and this was a key process.  However, the volatility of the security context and activities of armed groups and the increasing use of explosive devices could impede the process.  Sustained advocacy and support by the international community was welcome to expand the democratic space at the local level and ensure a peace dividend.  Regarding the request for the Human Rights Division to support the Central African Republic in its reporting obligations, the Office would continue and reinforce its engagement in this.  The Office would continue to engage with the Central African Republic authorities to advance human rights in the region, in cooperation with local entities, and with the international community in order to support all human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights.

Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya

Documentation

The Council has before it (A/HRC/49/4) report of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya.

Presentation of Report

MOHAMED AUAJJAR, Chair of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, presenting the second report of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, said that during this reporting period, the Mission had gone for the first time to Benghazi.  The Council had given this Mission a broad mandate to document alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, committed by all parties in Libya, since 2016.  In that short first investigation period, the Mission found credible and reliable evidence that many human rights violations and abuses, violations of international humanitarian law and international crimes had been committed in Libya since 2016.  

Specific sections of the report were devoted to violations in the context of the deprivation of liberty, to sexual and gender-based violence, to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance, to violations and abuses against migrants, women and minorities and to violations of international humanitarian law.  The Fact-Finding Mission had uncovered further evidence that the human rights violations experienced by detainees in Libya were widespread, systematic or both.  The Mission was conducting ongoing investigations on a number of secret detention facilities, including networks of facilities allegedly controlled by armed militias, and prisons that were declared closed but were reportedly still operating.  Mr. Auajjar highlighted his findings concerning migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.  The Mission had also investigated continuing abuses against migrants at the hands of traffickers.  It had directed its fact-finding efforts towards an additional area, namely, human rights violations and abuses, and crimes, that could especially hamper Libya’s transition to peace, democracy and the rule of law.  At present, the culture of impunity that was prevailing in different parts of Libya was impeding that transition.  The Mission found that there was ongoing impunity for attacks against women politicians and that this undermined women’s political participation. 

In conclusion, Mr. Auajjar called on relevant stakeholders to provide the technical assistance that Libya required, in a range of fields, to fulfil its human rights obligations.  Given the breadth of the mandate of the Mission, and the number and complexity of the violations and abuses that had occurred in Libya since 2016, further investigations were needed to comprehensively address the situation of human rights in Libya since 2016.  He therefore recommended to the Council to extend the Mission’s mandate once again.  Such an extension would enable the Mission to monitor and document violations of human rights throughout that critical period, and permit the more comprehensive investigation of all violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law from 2016, that the Libyan people and other victims in Libya deserved.  It would enable the Mission to provide holistic recommendations that could help the Libyan State institutions in ending impunity, protecting human rights, and contributing to stability and reconciliation.

Statement by Country Concerned

Libya, speaking as the country concerned, said the relevant national authorities had taken account of the updated report of the Fact-Finding Mission.  It reflected the results of the activities of the Mission.  What was mentioned in the report would be discussed between the Mission and the Government in order to clarify any difficulties.  For nearly two years, Libya had requested the establishment of an international commission of inquiry and its dispatch to Libya to investigate challenges to the implementation of human rights.  The Fact-Finding Mission would be vital in investigating allegations of human rights violations.  Since its inception, the Government had cooperated with it, and would continue to do so, in order to ensure that it could complete its mandate.  The report was taken note of, and Libya reserved the right to respond to its information and statements, whilst recognising the human rights situation in the country and the difficult situation it was going through.

Libya was keen to combat illegal disappearance and detention, and the Government was making efforts in this regard, as it was to ensure respect for human rights and legal rules for inmates of detention institutions.  On enforced disappearance and torture, the Government would prevent and prosecute.  Illegal migration was a large challenge, and the violations that migrants were subjected to were mostly at the hands of illegal gangs, and the Government was making efforts to eliminate these.  Women had made remarkable progress in participation and in public life, with strong presence in legislation and the judiciary.  The Government was working to increase their participation in public life without discrimination.  The national authority was the competent authority to judge human rights violations.  Achieving stability and peace, ending transition, achieving the rule of law and building constitutional structure would provide the correct infrastructure for human rights, and the international community should support this.  The scale of the challenge, associated with the transition required international support and assistance, in particular from the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Discussion

In the discussion on Libya, speakers fully supported the mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission.  Its work was key to ensure accountability in Libya. The authorities in Libya and all parties to the conflict needed to fully cooperate with the Mission.  Unhindered access inside the country should be guaranteed.  Civil society and individuals needed to be able to interact with the Mission without fear of reprisals.  The work of the Fact-Finding Mission was not finished and therefore the renewal of its mandate was strongly encouraged.  Calls were made on all actors to work towards a peaceful political transition in Libya and to refrain from actions that could undermine the stability of the country. 

The situation for human rights in Libya remained deeply worrying.  Violence, intimidation and kidnapping continued to be rife throughout the country.  These offenses should be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators must be held accountable.  Speakers stressed the importance of accountability for violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by all parties in Libya, including sexual and gender-based violence and violence against activists, women’s rights defenders and migrants.  It appeared that in many instances access to accountability mechanisms was blocked.  The continued involvement of mercenaries in Libya created an environment of impunity.  

Some speakers appreciated Libya’s commitment to facilitate the work of the Mission so far, and reiterated the importance of continued and effective assistance.  They appreciated the efforts of all Libyan authorities (legislative, executive and judicial), to promote and respect human rights, and stressed that it was crucial for the international community, in particular the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, to implement their obligations to assist the Libyan institutions to achieve transitional justice and national reconciliation.  They further appreciated the efforts of all the Libyan authorities, legislative, executive, and judicial, to promote and respect human rights.

 

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/03/le-conseil-tient-un-dialogue-de-haut-niveau-sur-la-situation-des

 

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Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the information media;
not an official record. English and French versions of our releases are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.

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