A U.N. investigator warns violence will increase and national reconciliation in the Central African Republic will remain elusive as long as the country has persistent corruption and impunity.
Yao Agbetse's report was submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday.
The independent expert on human rights in the C.A.R. presented his last report to the council in March. Since then, Agbetse says MINUSCA, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the C.A.R., has documented 436 incidents of extremely grave human rights violations against more than 1,300 victims.
Those include conflict-related sexual violence and grave violations of the rights of children.
Agbetse says nearly half of the violations were committed by state agents and their allies, the other half by armed groups that had signed the 2018 peace agreement aimed at ending the civil war that broke out in 2013.
Unfortunately, he says, gross violations continue to be committed with impunity.
"If the current situation persists, the Central African Republic will see an increase in tension and social tension, which may lead to an even more fragile situation in the conflict areas," Agbetse said through an interpreter. "And the instability will give a new impetus to the armed groups who will take up their belligerent activities in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law."
That, he says, will prompt people to flee to other countries in the region and toward Europe.
Agbetse calls combating impunity a priority. He says the population wants the state to investigate allegations of human rights and start impartial investigations of human rights abuse with the support of the human rights division of MINUSCA.
"Moreover, it is important that the government follow up on the conclusions of the investigations conducted by its Special Commission of Inquiry established in May 2021 into the allegations of atrocities committed by FACA and their Russian allies," he said. "The trials of the perpetrators of these violations and other serious violations must be started with no delay."
FACA stands for the Central African Armed Forces.
The independent expert is referring to allegations of violations committed by Russian mercenaries associated with a private security company, the Wagner Group.
They reportedly have been abusing and killing civilians in the C.A.R. since 2019. The United Nations, several governments and human rights groups accuse the Russian mercenaries of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Both Russia and the C.A.R. have repeatedly denied that the Wagner Group is in the country.
In his response to the report, the C.A.R.'s minister of justice, Arnaud Djoubay Abazene, made no reference to the Wagner Group. However, he told the council the promotion of human rights in combating impunity and sexual and gender-based violence is at the heart of his government's priorities.