December 5, 2022

United States calls for human rights abusers to be held accountable in Central African Republic as Russian militants are reported perpetrators

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council Ambassador Michèle Taylor
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council Ambassador Michèle Taylor

The United States is calling for the government of the Central African Republic to respond to alleged human rights abuses within its borders by investigating and holding offenders accountable, said U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council Ambassador Michèle Taylor on Wednesday.

Reports from the past year allege that Russian militants and mercenaries, along with the Central African Republic’s forces, have been involved in the numerous human rights violations committed against civilians in the war-torn West African nation.

“The U.S. reiterates our call to the government of CAR to investigate all allegations of human rights violations & abuses and to hold accountable those responsible. Durable peace requires a commitment to good governance, respect for human rights, inclusive dialogue, & justice,” said Ambassador Michèle Taylor via twitter.

The Central African Republic has been subjected to a violent civil war between rebel groups and the nation’s government for roughly a decade now. The civil war was preceded by the Central African Republic Bush War which occurred for several years prior. The nation does not possess a sufficiently strong and legitimate state authority in many regions and has been torn apart by continued insecurity and violent conflict.

Ambassador Michèle Taylor being sworn into office by Vice President Kamala D. Harris at the White House in Washington DC in June 2022. Photo: Via Twitter

In recent years, Russia has expanded its impactful military presence in the Central African Republic. Fighting between armed rebel militant groups and CAR government forces reinforced by the militaries of both Russia and Rwanda have resulted in numerous human rights violations and have resulted in a deteriorating security situation for civilians.

According to Human Rights Watch, witnesses report that Russian forces have been committing human rights abuses against civilians including execution, torture, and other violations for several years now.

While Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera announced a unilateral ceasefire in October of 2021, the accord has not been honored and violent conflict has continued on both sides.

“There is compelling evidence that Russian-identified forces supporting the Central African Republic’s government have committed grave abuses against civilians with complete impunity,” said Ida Sawyer, crisis and conflict director at Human Rights Watch, in May.

As the Central African Republic’s government wages a counter-offensive to reclaim territories controlled by rebel groups, the nation’s forces along with its Rwandan and Russian aligned allies face allegations of war crimes including unlawful attacks, extrajudicial killings, torture, and sexual violence.

In Freedom House’s 2022 global freedom index, the Central African Republic tied for the 10th least free nation in the world. “A series of peace deals between the government and various armed groups have not produced improvements in the security situation and have been repeatedly breached by both parties,” said the organization in its report on the previous calendar year.

While reported abuses by the government forces of the Central African Republic are egregious, allegations by Russian-linked mercenaries and militant groups must also not go unnoticed.

As the world focuses its attention on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the war crimes that it has been committing in eastern Europe, it must not overlook the widespread abuses by Russian-linked groups reported throughout the Central African Republic.

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