GENEVA - In a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the president of Central African Republic told the 47-member body the road to peace for his embattled country lies in combating impunity and making people accountable for their crimes.
CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera says those who have caused the deaths of more than 4,000 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands since conflict erupted in 2013 must be punished. Fighting started when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital, Bangui. Anti-Balaka militias, mostly Christians, fought back.
The grave human rights situation in the country has weakened the authority of the state and the independence of the judiciary, he says, which has paved the way for people to carry out their own justice.
"This situation is unacceptable and it cannot go on," Touadera said.
Zero tolerance of impunity is the way toward lasting peace, he says, adding that there is no contradiction between peace and justice. Instead, he says, they are complementary.
The president says the impunity, which has existed in CAR for decades, has led to new crimes. Now, he stresses, the government has an obligation to make sure those who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity be held to account, and the victims of those crimes receive justice and recompense for their suffering.