GENEVA (October 27, 2021) – Civilians, including peacekeepers, journalists, aid workers and minorities in the Central African Republic (CAR) have been violently harassed and intimidated by so-called “Russian instructors” from the Wagner group, UN experts * said today.
“We are extremely concerned about the intimidation and recent reports of violent harassment by private military and security contractors against individuals and communities,” the experts said.
Russian instructors operating as military and security personnel work closely with the Central African Army (FACA) and the police, and participate in the arrest and detention of individuals. This means that victims often do not have access to justice. They simply dare not file formal complaints, so impunity for the abuses continues for all perpetrators – the FACA as well as military and security officers working for the Wagner group.
Earlier this month, a special commission of inquiry created by the Central African government to shed light on the violence in the country determined that violations of human rights and international humanitarian law had been committed, including by ” Russian instructors ”.
UN experts also expressed concerns earlier this year that many forces, including the Wagner group, are committing systemic and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including arbitrary detentions, acts of torture, disappearances and summary executions, a pattern that continues unabated and unpunished.
Experts have also received reports that agents from the Wagner group have committed rape and sexual violence against women, men and girls in many parts of the country. It is not known how many people have been victims of sexual violence, as survivors are terrified of bringing their cases to justice for fear of reprisals.
“Being denied access to justice and remedies is a sign of the impunity that reigns in the country,” they said.
“We call on the Central African government to end all relations with private military and security personnel, in particular the Wagner group,” the experts said. “We urge the authorities to comply with their obligations under international law to hold accountable all perpetrators of serious violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in their territory. They must guarantee unhindered access to justice and redress to all victims of violations, including abuses committed by Russian private military and security personnel. “
The experts also expressed their concerns about these allegations directly to the Government of the Central African Republic.
* Experts: Jelena Aparac (Chairperson-Rapporteur), Lilian Bobea, Ravindran Daniel, Chris Kwaja, Sorcha MacLeod Working group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and obstructing the exercise of self-determination of peoples, Surya Deva (chairperson-rapporteur), Elżbieta Karska, Githu Muigai, Dante Pesce, Anita Ramasastry Working group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other businesses; Luciano Hazan (chairman-rapporteur), Aua Baldé (vice-chairman), Tae-Ung Baik, Gabriella Citroni, Henrikas Mickevičius, Working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; Morris Tidball-Binz Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Working groups and special rapporteurs are part of what are known as special procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest group of independent experts in the United Nations human rights system, is the general name for the Council’s independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that deal with either country-specific situations or thematic issues in all regions of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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