GENEVA - A U.N. human rights official is urging the government of the Central African Republic to establish, without delay, a truth and reconciliation commission as a pathway to peace.
Marie-Therese Keita-Bocoum welcomes progress made in institutional reforms this year. But, she says authorities in the Central African Republic have to do much, much more to repair the country's chronically troubled security and political situation.
Speaking Wednesday to the U.N. Human Rights Council, she said escalating attacks by armed groups are traumatizing the population, which is losing trust in the ability of the government to protect it. She deplores the hate speech employed by several factions, which, in many cases has a dangerous religious component.
Keita-Bocoum condemns the growing number of what she calls odious attacks against aid workers and U.N. peacekeepers. She says it is vital to bolster protection for human rights in the country, in particular, economic and social rights.
She says the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an important element in this mix. She speaks through an interpreter.
“The government shared with me its determination to develop a transitional justice strategy, which would consist of dealing with the mass atrocities committed in the past, establishing culpability, guaranteeing non-repetition of conflict, and restoring trust and national social cohesion. It includes judicial and non-judicial mechanisms including the truth commission, institutional reform and reparation,” she said.
Keita-Bocoum says the willingness on the part of the government deserves stepped-up support from the international community.
“The situation in the C.A.R. is becoming unbearable. It reveals more than ever the urgent need to simultaneously bolster protection of civilians, humanitarian aid, combating impunity, and peace initiatives and development,” she said.
The C.A.R. ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Leopold Samba, agrees with the independent expert’s assessment of the situation and is appealing for greater international support.
He calls the displacement of 600,000 people and the deaths and injuries of some 4,000 people in the C.A.R.'s long-running civil war unacceptable. Samba says additional measures are needed to restore peace throughout his country’s battered national territory.