UN rights chief calls for investigation of CAR peacekeepers

UN rights chief calls for investigation of CAR peacekeepers

[JURIST] The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website], Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on Saturday called on [press release] several states to investigate allegations that members of their peacekeeping forces sent to the Central African Republic (CAR) have committed serious human rights violations. It is reported that soldiers have engaged in the killing of civilians, summary executions, abductions and sexual exploitation of local women and children. Zeid summarized the troubling contradiction by saying, “[t]he role of international forces in halting the worst of the fighting and sectarian slaughter in CAR has been invaluable, and their presence has unquestionably saved many, many lives. Yet, in some cases the longed-for protectors turned into predators.” The High Commissioner’s statement revealed that many states’ forces are under suspicion of engaging in the “disturbing” behavior and some have issued sanctions to the soldiers involved. In addition to requesting further investigation, the High Commissioner also announced he is sending a team to look into possible further measures to address human rights violations in the CAR.

Violence has persisted in the CAR for the past two years, escalating after the predominately Muslim-based Seleka rebels ousted the government of Bozize in March 2013. According to UN estimates, nearly 440,000 people remain displaced in the country while 190,000 others have sought asylum outside its borders. In April the CAR government voted [JURIST report] to create a Special Criminal Court to investigate the atrocities committed during recent unrest in the country. In September the International Criminal Court [official website] opened [JURIST report] a second investigation into CAR war crimes. Members of the international community maintain that there is much work to be done [JURIST op-ed] in the nation.