Human Rights and Democracy Report 2016 - CHAPTER VI: Human Rights Priority Countries - Central African Republic (CAR)

During 2016 the human rights situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) showed no sign of improvement. Armed groups continued to commit human rights abuses with impunity, including unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, abductions, and sexual violence. There was evidence of progress in the political sphere, with a smooth transition of power following the elections, followed by commitments from the CAR Government to prioritise work to eradicate security-related problems.

The UK’s main human rights objective in CAR for 2016 was to continue to work towards ending impunity, which would first require the implementation of robust processes of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) and Security Sector Reform (SSR). The lack of a properly functioning judicial system in particular meant that little action could be taken by the CAR authorities to address human rights abuses by non-state actors and bring perpetrators to justice. 2016 saw some further progress on the creation of a Special Criminal Court to aid the fight against impunity, but sufficient funding and qualified judges and legal staff were still being sought.

In July 2016, the UK supported the replacement of the EU Military Assistance Mission by an EU Training Mission (EUTM RCA), mandated to advise on the reform of CAR’s defence sector and train the national army (FACA). This strand of SSR will play a crucial role in ensuring that CAR has the resources to tackle non-state actors and to prevent future state actor violations, such as the attacks on civilians which followed the murder of a FACA commander in October.

The United Nations (UN) took steps to address the persistent problem of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN Peacekeepers from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in CAR (MINUSCA). MINUSCA established joint protection teams, appointed Investigation Officers, and carried out targeted training and local outreach activities. The UK provided £1 million of funding to support training, vetting and implementation of the necessary reforms to the UN system in support of the Secretary General’s zero tolerance policy.

Wider international community support for CAR’s development was channelled via a donor conference in Brussels in November 2016, at which more than $2 billion was pledged. The UK committed £36 million in humanitarian funding and £24 million in contingency funding. These funds will help support CAR’s Humanitarian Response Plan.

Looking ahead to 2017, it will be important for the CAR Government to implement its National Plan for Recovery and Peacebuilding. This should provide a framework to return to stability and help reduce the number of human rights violations and abuses in CAR. The UK will continue its support of the UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA and the EUTM. In 2017 the EU Mission will help deliver SSR objectives by training battalions of CAR armed forces and by supporting the CAR authorities in developing their own training and education systems. The UK will work with both international partners and President Touadéra’s Government towards achieving these goals, including by providing diplomatic and financial support.