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Central African authorities must return ex rebel leader to custody, and under jurisdiction of Special Criminal Court, UN expert says

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GENEVA (9 December 2021) – A UN expert today called on authorities in the Central African Republic to return to custody a former rebel leader charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, saying his sudden release undermined the country's struggle against impunity.

Hassan Bouba Ali, former top coordinator of the armed group Unité pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC) who is currently serving as Minister of Livestock Affairs and Animal Health, was arrested on 19 November based on a (arrest) warrant issued by the Special Criminal Court (SCC). He was brought before the SCC, which informed him, at the presence of his lawyer, of the charges against him for crimes allegedly committed in the Central African Republic.

However, on 26 November, when Bouba Ali had agreed to appear before the court again for a ruling on his placement in provisional detention, SCC officials were denied access to the detention place of Bouba Ali and gendarmes reportedly escorted him to his home.

"Authorities in the Central African Republic must immediately shed full light on this critical incident, which undermines the independence of the SCC and the mandate entrusted to it by the Central African people," said Yao Agbetse, the UN Independent Expert on the Human Rights situation in the Central African Republic.

"The release of Mr. Bouba Ali obstructs the fight against impunity and the ongoing national peace and reconciliation process. It sends the wrong signal to the victims who are waiting for justice to be administered," the expert said. "Mr. Bouba Ali must be handed over to the SCC immediately so that the legitimate legal proceedings against him can continue."

The expert called on the Central African Republic to ensure the independence of the hybrid Court is respected and said authorities must collaborate fully, without hindrance, with the SCC, the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission and other national judicial bodies in their endeavours to fight against impunity.

ENDS

Mr.Yao Agbetse, Independent Expert on the Human Rights situation in the Central African Republic. The mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic was established by the Human Rights Council on 27 September 2013.
Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 
UN Human Rights, Country Page: Central African Republic

For more information and media requests, please write to ie-car@ohchr.org

F For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jeremy.laurence@un.org)

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