A UN expert today called a major rebel group in the Central African Republic “enemies of the peace” after a brutal attack on a Central African Armed Forces (FACA) base in Sikikédé left several soldiers dead earlier this month.
Yao Agbetse, the UN independent expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, condemned the attack and demanded the release of soldiers taken prisoner by the armed group – the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC).
“By continuing its attacks on FACA positions and civilians, despite the instruments for political resolution of the conflict and commitments made, the CPC ranks among the enemies of peace,” Agbetse said.
On 14 February 2023, CPC armed groups attacked the FACA base, resulting in deaths of FACA personnel. Some 20 Central African soldiers were taken prisoner. The attack took place in the Vakaga region in north-east CAR.
“The prisoners must be released without delay, and international humanitarian actors and human rights organisations must be given unconditional access to the captured soldiers,” the UN expert said.
“I am calling on the armed groups of the CPC to deposit their arms without delay, and join the conflict resolution framework as planned, in particular by the Political Accord for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic (APPR CAR) and the Luanda Road Map,” Agbetse said.
The road map calls on the CPC to comply strictly with the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war, the expert said.
Agbetse reminded the CPC and entities that support them that they will sooner or later answer for their actions in national and international courts.
“No crime will go unpunished. I call on the International Criminal Court and the Special Criminal Court (SCC) to carefully observe the evolving situation and initiate necessary investigations in accordance with the Rome Statute and the law creating the SCC,” the UN expert said.
Agbetse said CPC had an obligation to treat prisoners in a dignified and human way and recalled that torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, summary and extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances of prisoners were prohibited.
“The CPC must refrain from any act of retaliation against prisoners,” he said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).