UN Expresses Anger Over Atrocities Committed By Russian Mercenaries, Armed Group In Central African Republic

MINUSCA revealed that in the last three months of 2021, the UN forces documented 363 incidents of violations of human rights, abuses and infractions of international humanitarian rights, many of which are extremely serious.

The Division of Human Rights of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has expressed anger over the atrocities committed by the Russian mercenaries of Wagner Security Group and armed rebels in the Central African Republic.

A just-published report by MINUSCA revealed that in the last three months of 2021, the UN forces documented 363 incidents of violations of human rights, abuses and infractions of international humanitarian rights, many of which are extremely serious.

The abuses involved 848 victims and 59 per cent  of these incidents were attributed to armed groups which were signatories to the Feb. 2019 peace accord.

National security forces and their allies, notably the Wagner Security Group, were responsible for 40 per cent of the incidents, which is a very strong increase in comparison to abuses recorded in Jan. 2021 which stood at 23 per cent.

Speaking at the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, Michel Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed worries at the response of the Central African Republic government to abuses by armed groups such as arbitrary arrests of members of communities which are already vulnerable.

“This scheme of violations touches minority communities and is profoundly disquieting,”the UN official deplored.

“Generally, the rights of several persons are violated and discrimination as well as targeted bad treatment risks once again setting off a new cycle of violence along communal, religious and ethnic lines.

“The adverse effect to peace and reconciliation of such an evolution would be profound.”

Yao Agbetse, the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, indicated having received “several concordant witness accounts testifying to exactions committed by bilateral Russian forces on civilian populations. 

This, according to him,  include sexual violence, acts of intimidation, destruction of houses, threats, and racketeering.

“The bilateral Russian forces are equally accused of acts of torture, cruel, humiliating, and degrading treatment even on local representatives of state authority in the hinterlands of the country as happened in the localities of Aigbando, Bambari, Beloko, Bossangoa, Boyo, Bria and Mouka,” Agbetse said.

The UN independent expert also accused the Wagner Security Group of “systematically blocking the work of investigators. “Russian bilateral forces sometimes obstruct the conduct of inquiries in certain areas where violations of human rights had been committed,” he alleged.

Agbetse recalled that the special commission of inquiry set up by the Central African Republic government had concluded that human rights violations had been committed by bilateral Russian forces.

“In view of the contractual relations between the Central African Republic subject to international law and the bilateral Russian forces, an entity which is not recognised under international law, and in the absence of all other public information related to contractual stipulations, the responsibility for violations documented lies with the Central African Republic state which must take all the measures necessary to see that justice is rendered to victims.”

Under these conditions, Yao Agbetse was of the opinion that appropriate measures must be taken within the shortest possible delay with the goal of putting an end to these violations of the rights of the civilians, to the tensions between its Russian allies and the Central African Republic defence and security forces and to all other obstructions to MINUSCA operations and humanitarian work.

The Central African Republic delegation to the UN Human Rights Council recalled the measures taken by the Bangui regime to fight against impunity without directly mentioning the allegations made against the Wagner Security Group.

“Multiple actions are being executed to render justice more accessible and equitable for all Central Africans,” Arnaud Djoubaye Abazene, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Central African Republic revealed.

Abazene added that a judicial follow-up is going on relating to the report of the special commission of inquiry with a view to “throwing light on the allegations of human rights violations revealed last year by the Division for Human Rights of MINUSCA.”

The minister revealed that the government has opened judicial investigations into several presumed violations of human rights perpetrated in the interior of the country.

According to the United Nations, the consequence of these violations of human rights is that more than 1.4 million persons have been constrained to flee from their homes and 3.1 million persons, which is about 63 per cent of the country’s population, are currently in need of protection and humanitarian assistance.

“Never within the past five years, have there been that many persons in severe situations of need in the Central African Republic,” Bachelet concluded in her presentation. 

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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