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Human Rights Council Holds Separate Interactive Dialogues with the Independent Experts on the Central African Republic and on Mali

The Human Rights Council during its midday meeting held separate interactive dialogues with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, and with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo.  

Presenting her report, Ms. Keita Bocoum commended the Government of the Central African Republic for the progress made in drawing up the legislative and institutional framework, including appointing the Prosecutor to the Special Criminal Court. This was in stark contrast with the reality on the ground, where local conflicts were proliferating with surprising alliances forming in which nationalist and foreign groups opposed each other with dangerous ethnic connotations. Insecurity was the greatest problem for the civilian population, as armed groups ruled more than 60 per cent of the territory with total impunity. There had been no progress in restoring the effective authority of the State outside of Bangui.  More than half the population was in acute need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 470,000 people were internally displaced. The Independent Expert regretted delays in the implementation of the national plan for the restauration and consolidation of peace, which risked the disengagement of the people and attempts to install peace by force of arms.   Speaking as the concerned country, the Central African Republic stated that it needed the help and assistance of the international community. However, the international community’s concern should not win because the expert’s report was of concern. The effective restoration of the State’s authority was slow in coming about. The crisis that the Central African Republic was experiencing seemed to have been put on the back burner by the international community, and the situation could escalate into an unspeakable ethnic war.    In the ensuing discussion speakers welcomed the determination of the democratically elected authorities to end impunity in the Central African Republic, and the progress made since the Bangui forum on reconciliation. However, they remained concerned about the heightened level of violence and clashes between armed groups. The Government was encouraged to combat impunity, strengthen the judiciary, and to prosecute all those guilty of human rights violations, especially of crimes against children. Speakers stressed that good governance and the rule of law were key to achieving reconciliation and stability in the country. They called on armed groups to cease hostilities and to join the Government’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme. Several delegations appealed to the international community to provide urgent aid to the Central African Republic for development and for setting up a criminal court.   Speaking were European Union, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Egypt, Netherlands, Benin, Algeria, United States, Sudan, Portugal, Togo, Congo, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Morocco.   Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: World Evangelical Alliance, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, and Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme.   During the meeting, the Council also discussed the situation of human rights in Mali with the Independent Expert, Suliman Baldo.   Presenting his report, Mr. Baldo noted that although there had been positive developments in Mali, the security situation in the north remained volatile and it deprived many children of their right to education. Civilians were exposed to risks because of armed groups and bandits who were not controlled. This was also due to the terrorist groups who carried out abuses towards the civilians and preached radical Islam in central and northern Mali. The immediate response of the Government forces sometimes strayed from international standards. The consequence of all this was displacement of the population and the radicalization of youth who thought that injustice was carried out by the State. Impunity for violations and abuses remained a serious concern, and it had to end. Some progress had been made in transitional justice, with the opening of the regional office of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. But, the justice system was not able to attack impunity.   Mali, speaking as the concerned country, expressed gratitude to the Human Rights Council for the assistance it had provided to the country in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights since the crisis it had faced in 2012. It explained that judicial authorities were making efforts to provide a response to all cases brought to their attention. All the incidents brought to judicial authorities were investigated and prosecuted, including cases involving the armed forces. The violations of human rights mentioned in the report were largely attributed to jihadi groups.    In the discussion speakers welcomed the efforts of the Government of Mali in the area of human rights despite many challenges, such as the establishment of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, as well as tangible results made to relaunch economic development in the north of the country. They condemned the violations of human rights by extremist groups which had continued, particularly in the north and centre of the country. Poverty, inequalities and weak State authority had led to the expansion of extreme violence. Some speakers deplored the lack of a law that forbade female genital mutilation. The slow implementation of the 2015 Algiers peace accords had allowed the continued grave violations of children’s rights committed by armed groups.  Human rights had to be at the core of the development of the country to achieve sustainable peace and stability.   Speaking were European Union, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, United Nations Children’s Fund, Denmark, France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Egypt, Netherlands, Benin, Algeria, Libya, United States, Sudan, Togo, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Spain, Central African Republic, Morocco and Mozambique.   Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, International Service for Human Rights, and Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme.   The Council is having a full day of meetings today. At 1 p.m., it will hold an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, Gustavo Gallon. It will then hear the presentation of the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Libya, including on the investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner, followed by an interactive discussion. 

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).