GENEVA - A United Nations human rights expert warns true peace in Central African Republic will not be possible without justice for the hundreds of thousands of victims who have suffered violence and human rights abuse during more than five years of civil war.
War between the Muslim Seleka and mainly Christian anti-Balaka groups in Central African Republic (CAR) has taken a heavy toll. The U.N. refugee agency reports nearly 582,000 people have fled as refugees to neighboring countries and more than 687,000 are internally displaced.
The Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in CAR says some crucial steps have been taken in establishing a system of transitional justice and peace in the country.
Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum welcomes these moves but said the success of ongoing reforms can only be assured if they are based on justice for the victims. She said people in the country are still suffering from lack of consultation at all levels.
"Their participation in peace cannot be optional," Bochum said. "Their voice has to be heard alongside that of the government and the armed groups as well as part of the African Facilitators' Panel. An inclusive panel needs to build in consultation with all swathes of the population reaching out to all the different tribes and the hundreds of thousands of CAR refugees."
Bocoum warns the situation of human rights is threatened by public incitement to violence and media sponsored hate speech by various factions. She says discrimination and marginalization based on religion and ethnicity also are of great concern.
The Central African Republic's Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Leopold Ismael Samba, says his country is committed to finding solutions to the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. He says his government wants to restore true rule of law, ensuring peace and security throughout the territory.
But, he notes, these challenges can only be met with the support of the international community.