A UN human rights expert warned June 20 that the Central African Republic (CAR) "must act now" to protect its population and implement justice. According to Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, the expert on human rights for the CAR, armed groups are spreading throughout the country at a worrying rate, and a lack of response from the government to defend civilians has led to revenge attacks, public outrage, and "cries of distress" from citizens. The announcement from the UN comes on the heels of a peace accord signed by the CAR and most of the armed groups, aimed at ending the ethnic and religious conflict that has killed thousands. The peace accord was mediated by the Roman Catholic Sant'Egidio peace group (which brokered the end of the civil war in Mozambique in 1992) and was signed in Rome.
Violence has persisted in the CAR since the predominately Muslim-based Seleka rebels ousted former president François Bozize in March 2013. Last month, a report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights found that rights violations in the CAR may amount to war crimes. In January, Amnesty International reported that perpetrators of war crimes have not been prosecuted or investigated in the CAR. The organization urged that the country's justice system needs to be reconstructed, and that a Special Criminal Court, tasked with trying suspected war criminals, must be established, along with a witness protection program.
From Jurist, June 21. Used wth permission.