GENEVA / BANGUI (4 August 2021) – A UN report published today details the dire and worsening human rights situation over
the past year in the Central African Republic (CAR), where armed groups carried out a violent bid to disrupt elections.
In response, the country’s defence and security forces launched military operations to retake territory from them.
The joint report by the UN Human Rights Office and MINUSCA, the UN Mission in CAR, covers the period from July 2020 to
June 2021 in the context of the presidential poll, held in December 2020, and legislative elections, which took place in
December 2020, and March and May 2021*.
The Human Rights Division of MINUSCA documented 526 incidents of abuses and violations of human rights and international
humanitarian law across the country during this period. These violations affected at least 1,221 victims, including 144
civilians or those hors de combat who were killed by the parties to the conflict.
Among the documented abuses and violations are extrajudicial and summary killings, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary
arrests and detentions, unnecessary and disproportionate use of force, conflict-related sexual violence and serious
violations against children, including their recruitment by parties to the conflict. In addition, the report notes that
attacks and threats of attacks forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes.
A coalition of armed groups, known as the CPC (Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement), was responsible for over half of the documented incidents (54 per cent).
The CPC killed and abducted civilians, attacked UN peacekeepers, looted the premises of humanitarian organisations,
threatening their staff, and burned down polling stations. In one incident on 19 March, an armed group affiliated with
the CPC killed three traders in Ouaka prefecture, after tying them up and torturing them. Their bodies were subsequently
found with their voting cards tied around their necks.
The Central African Armed Forces (FACA), Internal Security Forces (FSI) and other security personnel - including Russian
military instructors deployed under an agreement between the Governments of CAR and the Russian Federation, and private
military contractors operating in the country - were responsible for 46 per cent of the confirmed incidents.
Credible evidence gathered by the MINUSCA Human Rights Division indicated that these other security personnel were
involved in military training and actively participated in military operations, including arresting suspects, and
inflicting inhumane treatment and torture on some of them. On a number of occasions and in different locations, they
were also reportedly involved in extrajudicial killings.
The Human Rights Division also confirmed an increase in attacks on members of the Muslim community by the FACA, FSI and
other security personnel between February and June 2021. Further reports indicate that the deliberate targeting of
Muslims over their alleged affiliation with armed groups was continuing.
MINUSCA peacekeeping forces came under attack on some 20 occasions by both armed groups and FACA. During this period,
seven peacekeepers were killed in attacks by armed groups. Such attacks aimed at preventing MINUSCA from protecting the
civilian population may constitute war crimes.
“All parties to the conflict are continuing to commit atrocities, amid a deteriorating security situation, particularly
in the provinces. A political solution to this crisis and the full respect at all times of international humanitarian
and human rights law by all parties to the conflict are the only viable path to a durable peace and sustainable
development in CAR,” said Mankeur Ndiaye, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSCA.
The CAR Government has recently taken steps to promote and protect human rights, including the establishment of a
special commission of inquiry on 4 May to investigate violations of international humanitarian and international human
rights law linked to the elections. This, the report says, “represents a positive step toward accountability and in the
fight against impunity”.
“Addressing past and current human rights violations in a manner meaningful to victims is essential to break the long
and agonising cycle of violence in the Central African Republic,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle
Bachelet. “To that end, there must be thorough, impartial and effective investigations into all alleged violations and
abuses and those responsible must be held to account.”
In its recommendations, the report calls on armed groups to cease all attacks on the civilian population, including
sexual violence and recruitment of children, and to re-engage in the peace process.
The report further urges the Government to take appropriate measures to hold those responsible for human rights
violations and abuses accountable and to create a protective environment for civilians and humanitarian workers. It also
calls on the Government to ensure the FACA, FSI and other security personnel leave all civilian buildings, including
schools and hospitals, which they have illegally occupied.
The report also urges the international community to support the Government’s efforts to tackle the long-standing
culture of impunity in CAR and to provide the necessary support for the professionalization of the FACA and FSI to
enable them to fulfil their primary role of protecting civilians and promoting and protecting their human rights at all
Read the full report (in French) here
*A final round of voting in the legislative elections took place on 25 July 2021, outside the period covered by the