Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2007 - Central African Republic
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Author||Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders|
|Publication Date||19 June 2008|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2007 - Central African Republic, 19 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4864666fc.html [accessed 23 November 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
In 2007, the security situation in the capital Bangui was stabilised, thanks to the presence of the Multinational Force in the Central African Republic (Force multinationale en Centrafrique – FOMUC), of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, and to the French detachment "Boali". However, the situation has deteriorated in the north-west of the country, where armed rebellion movements are confronting the Government forces of General François Bozizé, exposing the civilian population to multiple abuses. Already beyond the control of Government security forces and exposed to banditry and roadblocks, the region has experienced the arrival of members of the presidential guard of former President Patassé, disappointed with the exclusion of the latter from the electoral process, who joined the People's Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (Armée populaire pour la restauration de la République et la démocratie – APRD).
In the northeast, in the region known as "the three borders" (Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic), Government security forces have continued to oppose the rebels of the Democratic Front of the Central African People (Front démocratique du peuple centrafricain – FDPC) and the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement – UFDR). After taking control of the area in November 2006, the rebels were fought off by the Central African armed forces with support from the French army.
Under agreements between the Government and rebels signed in February 2007 in Sirte and April 2007 in Birao, the President appointed two rebel leaders – Mr. Zakaria Damane and Mr. Abdoulaye Miskine – as advisers to the Presidency, despite the fact that the latter has been accused of international crimes perpetrated in 2002 that may fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Indeed, on May 22, 2007, the Prosecutor of the ICC announced the opening of an investigation into serious crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) between 2002 and 2003, including sexual violence on a large scale.
In addition, as an indication of the tension among the authorities, in May 2007 the Minister of State in charge of Communication and National Reconciliation was replaced after the projection of a film on the assassination of Captain Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso screened at the National Assembly in the framework of the International Human Rights Film Festival, under the pretext that the film could be damaging to the country's relations with Burkina Faso.
On September 25, 2007, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1778 authorising the establishment of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad as part of a multidimensional operation to restore security conditions necessary for the voluntary and sustainable return of refugees and those displaced by conflict in the region.1 The mission is complemented by a European Union force, EUFOR Chad/CAR, whose mission is to contribute to the protection of civilians in danger, especially refugees and displaced persons, to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid by improving safety in the area of operations, and to contribute to the protection of United Nations personnel and infrastructure. The deployment is expected to begin in February 2008.
Threats against defenders of victims of international crimes
Generally speaking, human rights defenders, because of their work of reporting violations, are subjected to pressure and harassment and intimidation by Government officials who consider them as political opponents in order to degrade them. More specifically, those who defend the right of victims of international crimes committed in the Central African Republic since 2002 and want to provide victims a place in the political dialogue have been exposed to serious threats that have also affected their families. Defenders are also accused of tarnishing the country's image abroad by disclosing information on human rights violations. The President of the Organisation for Compassion and Development of Families in Distress (Organisation pour la compassion et le développement des familles en détresse – OCODEFAD), Ms. Bernadette Sayo, was forced into exile after unknown persons in civilian clothes accosted her in the street and threatened to kill her on February 1, 2007, together with Mr. Nganatouwa Goungaye Wanfiyo, a lawyer and President of the Central African League of Human Rights (Ligue centrafricaine des droits de l'Homme). Similarly, Mr. Matthias Morouba, a lawyer who defends many human rights defenders as well as victims of human rights violations, suffered various forms of pressure throughout the year, including threatening phone calls asking him to withdraw from certain cases. Threats have also been made against members of his family. Mr. Morouba has been accused of defending his clients "against the authorities."
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders is a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).
1 This mission is the pendant of the UNAMID, African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (Sudan).