Central African Republic

The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/68/878–S/2014/339) issued on 15 May 2014. Throughout 2013, the human rights situation worsened dramatically, with a multiplication and shifting of alliances of armed groups: on the one hand, the Convention des patriotes pour la justice et la paix (CPJP), the CPJP fondamentale, the Front démocratique du peuple centrafricain (FDPC) and the Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement (UFDR), which came to form, or were associated in varying degrees with, the Séléka coalition; and the anti-Balaka, a local defence militia, which emerged in the second half of the year in response to the systematic attacks against the civilian population by the ex-Séléka coalition. Starting in December 2012, the Séléka coalition advanced towards Bangui, seizing the capital on 24 March 2013 and ousting President François Bozizé. Michel Djotodia, one of Séléka’s leaders, declared himself the new Head of State. On 13 September, Michel Djotodia dismantled the Séléka[1] by presidential decree. However, widespread abuses continued to be perpetrated between September and December 2013 by ex-Séléka units that refused to disband and continued to engage in systematic killings, rape and torture, and the looting and destruction of villages.

In response to the systematic exactions and attacks against civilians by the ex-Séléka between September and November 2013, the anti-Balaka became increasingly organized in different parts of the country. In some cases, the militias were associated with elements of the former Central African Armed Forces. Tensions between the Muslim and Christian communities were exacerbated by increasing clashes between the ex-Séléka and the anti-Balaka.

On 5 December, anti-Balaka elements launched a coordinated attack against ex-Séléka positions in Bangui, which triggered a wave of violence with grave violations being committed by both sides.

Access by the United Nations remained severely restricted throughout 2013, significantly disrupting the monitoring and reporting of grave violations against children. Documented cases of grave violations are only indicative, therefore, of the actual scale of violations that has occurred.

Both the anti-Balaka and the Séléka coalition, prior and after its dismantlement, systematically recruited and used children. The United Nations documented the recruitment and use of 171 boys and 17 girls, and estimates that several thousand children have been and remain associated with the ex-Séléka and the anti-Balaka. The progressive deterioration of the security environment also led to the re-recruitment of children. For example, on 1 April, 41 children (36 boys and 5 girls), separated from CPJP in August 2012, were re-recruited by Séléka elements in the north-eastern towns of Ndélé and Bria from a Transit and Orientation Centre. In December, five boys previously separated from the ex-Séléka were re-recruited by the anti-Balaka in Bangui.

Hundreds of children are estimated to have been killed or maimed by machetes, firearms and other weaponry. The United Nations verified the killing of 27 children and the maiming of 115 others. Most documented incidents occurred in the context of the unconstitutional change of power on 24 March 2013 and the December attacks by the anti-Balaka on ex-Séléka positions in Bangui. The latter resulted in the death of an estimated 1,000 civilians, including many children.

While the majority of the children were killed or maimed in the context of clashes between the ex-Séléka and the anti-Balaka, targeted attacks against children were also documented. In two separate incidents, in December 2013 and early January 2014, six boys were beheaded by Muslim civilians in retaliation for attacks by the anti-Balaka. On 2 December, 10 children were wounded in an anti-Balaka attack against civilians in the town of Boali. In early 2014, grave violations continued to be committed by both sides.

The United Nations has documented sexual violence against 20 girls, mainly by the Séléka. For instance, on 29 July, an 11-year-old girl was raped by a Séléka combatant in the town of Bossangoa. Weak monitoring capacity, fear of stigmatization and a climate of impunity continue to heavily affect reporting on sexual violence. Nonetheless, credible reports suggest that sexual violence by Séléka combatants was part of a larger pattern of systematic violations committed against civilians in areas under their control throughout 2013.

At least 36 schools and five hospitals were attacked by ex-Séléka. For example, on 24 August, the Séléka burned down a school in Nana Gribizi Province after school authorities refused to hand over their archives. On 5 December, ex‑Séléka combatants attacked the “Hôpital de l’amitié” in Bangui and summarily executed 10 patients. The hospital remained closed until 4 January 2014 and after security provisions by the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) were put in place. In addition, at least 20 schools were reportedly used as bases and barracks by the ex-Séléka throughout the Central African Republic. Many schools remained closed throughout the Central African Republic, after having been looted or used by armed groups, damaged by shelling or destroyed by fire, causing a heavy impact on the right of children to education. A group of anti-Balaka and former elements of the national armed forces were observed using a school in Bangui following the 5 December attacks. The ex-Séléka also used and looted health facilities in at least seven documented cases. For example, from July to September, a Séléka unit established its base at the Ouandago health-care centre in Nana Gribizi before leaving the centre as a result of humanitarian advocacy efforts.

Owing to the security situation, humanitarian access was limited in large areas of the Central African Republic. The United Nations documented specific cases of denial of humanitarian access by the national armed forces in two incidents and by the ex-Séléka in 22 incidents. For example, in February, the national armed forces prevented international humanitarian non-governmental organizations from leaving Bangui because of their alleged support of the Séléka. On 11 February 2013, the Séléka prevented a United Nations plane from landing in Bria, preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The compounds of many international non-governmental organizations were looted throughout the year.

On 26 November, the Ministry of Defence granted the United Nations unconditional screening access to military barracks and cantonment sites in view of the separation and reintegration of children associated with armed groups. The transitional authorities reiterated such commitments following a visit by my Special Representative in December. A total of 149 children were separated from the ex-Séléka. The fluid command structure of the anti-Balaka, among other challenges, was an obstacle to opening a structured dialogue. The United Nations continued to engage with international forces, including Operation Sangaris and MISCA, on the development of standard operating procedures for the separation and referral of children associated with armed groups. In early 2014, a national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration strategy was under revision by the transitional Government. At the time of reporting, the United Nations was working closely with the transitional authorities in that regard to ensure that the national strategy included adequate provisions on the release and reintegration of children.

The abominable atrocities committed against children by armed groups and in the context of the ongoing violence must stop and perpetrators must be held accountable. I am deeply concerned about the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the continued climate of lawlessness and impunity. In view of the re-establishment of national security forces, the ongoing disarmament of the ex-Séléka and the anti-Balaka must be accompanied by a thorough investigation of operational and political chains of command responsible for grave violations against children.

          [1]            Reference will be made to Séléka when the incidents took place prior to the dismantlement (January to September) and ex-Séléka when incidents occurred after September.

Parties in the Central African Republic

1.       Ex-Séléka coalition and associated armed groupsa,b,c,d

a.       Convention des patriotes pour la justice et la paix (CPJP)*
b.       Convention des patriotes pour la justice et la paix fondamentale (CPJP fondamentale)
c.        Front démocratique du peuple centrafricain (FDPC) d.       Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement (UFDR)*

2.       Local defence militias known as the anti-Balakaa,b

*This party has concluded an action plan with the United Nations in line with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).