The human rights situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) deteriorated further in 2017. Armed groups control large areas of the country, and the humanitarian situation worsened dramatically with a 50% increase in forced displacement. State and non-state actors continued to inflict a range of human rights violations and abuses, including mass killings, abductions, conflict-related sexual violence, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Around 63%[29] of girls are not in primary school.

Attacks on humanitarian workers, including attacks on health facilities and religious sites, made CAR "one of the most dangerous and difficult countries for humanitarian work", according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and hampered efforts to provide vital community services. The UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in CAR, Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum,warned that the country was experiencing an "unsustainable" situation amid the "spread of armed groups and increasing human rights violations".

Clashes continued between armed groups, including ex-Seleka (Muslim) rebel factions, anti-balaka (Christian) and self-defence groups. There was a significant increase in reports of abuse, particularly of ethnic or religious minority communities. In his August report to the UN Security Council, former Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O'Brien, stated that "the early warning signs for genocide" were present in CAR. He gave an example of 2,000 Muslims trapped in a Catholic Church compound where they had fled after their homes had been burned down by mostly Christian militiamen.

The resurgence in violence since September 2016 triggered an increase in conflict-related sexual violence. According to a UN report, women, girls and boys continued to suffer rape, sexual slavery and sexual assault[30]. The UN Peacekeeping Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) documented 91 such cases between January and May. The majority of these cases were perpetrated by ex-Seleka or anti-balaka armed groups.

In June, the government signed a peace accord with 13 armed groups. The 'San Egidio' peace agreement called for an immediate end to hostilities and the recognition of legitimate authorities. However, the day after the ceasefire was agreed, renewed fighting occurred in the town of Bria, with reports suggesting that 100 civilians had been killed. The African Union subsequently agreed a new roadmap for Peace and National Reconciliation which aims to promote dialogue between the CAR government and the armed groups.

The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in CAR cited the fight against the impunity of perpetrators of serious human rights violations and abuses as essential to solving the country's crisis. The UN launched its Human Rights Mapping Report in May. The Report identified and documented human rights violations and abuses from 2003 to 2015, including extrajudicial executions, torture and inhuman treatment, rapes, burning of entire villages, recruitment of thousands of children by armed groups, and attacks on humanitarian actors and peacekeepers. The Report concluded that serious violations and abuses of human rights had been committed by state and non-state actors, some of which could amount to crimes under international law, including war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.

The lack of a functioning judicial system meant that little action was taken to address these human rights violations and abuses and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Progress was made towards establishing a Special Criminal Court (SCC), with a mandate to end impunity for crimes under international law. A Special Criminal Court Prosecutor is now in place, as are a number of international and national magistrates. However, insecurity in CAR has limited progress, in terms both of SCC personnel being able to exercise their functions and of victim and witness protection.

In 2017, MINUSCA continued to deal with allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) made against peacekeepers. The UK has called on countries contributing troops to UN peacekeeping missions to investigate all allegations thoroughly and to ensure that those found guilty are brought to justice. The UN has taken steps to address the problem: MINUSCA has carried out training and awareness-raising activities on child protection for peacekeepers, armed groups, civil society, the CAR gendarmerie and the national police, in collaboration with UNICEF. More than 600 troops were repatriated in 2017 in an effort to implement the UN Secretary-General's zero tolerance policy.

In 2018, the UK will continue its support for UN and EU efforts to improve the political and security situation in CAR and to provide humanitarian assistance. The EU Training Mission, which is delivering security sector reform, has completed training of two battalions of CAR armed forces and will train another by summer 2018. As part of its ongoing work, the Mission will help develop the CAR armed forces' educational system, including training on International Humanitarian Law, gender, religious and ethnic minorities' issues, and SEA.


[30] From the Report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central Africa Republic, 28 July 2017 (see A/HRC/36/64, para 63)


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