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Joint Communiqué of the African Union and the United Nations on the Peace Process and the Situation in Bangui (12.04.2018)

BANGUI, Central African Republic, April 12, 2018 –

Joint Communiqué of the African Union and the United Nations on the Peace Process and the Situation in Bangui:

We, representatives of the African Union and the United Nations, decided to undertake a joint visit to the Central African Republic (CAR) to express our solidarity and full support to the Central African people and for the peace process in the Central African Republic. We also share a message of complete unity and common resolve of the African Union and the United Nations.

We are pleased in this regard that our visit coincides with the first meeting in Bangui of the International Support Group for CAR since the country’s return to constitutional order. During our visit, we will have the opportunity to talk with the Central African authorities, and have also held talks with President Touadéra.

Having arrived yesterday, we are also concerned about persistent tensions in the PK5 neighbourhood of Bangui. The operations conducted by the Government and MINUSCA on 8 April were aimed at putting an end to the activities of criminal elements that endanger the lives of peaceful citizens, in a neighbourhood that is also the economic hub of Bangui.

In these difficult times, we wish to express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and we deplore the many wounded, to whom we wish a speedy recovery.

Above all, we wish to emphasize that this operation to restore order and State authority has the sole purpose to protect the people who seek our protection against the criminal elements who oppress them. We want to make it clear that we are determined to act to protect the entire population, across the country.

We strongly deplore and condemn the attempts to instrumentalise this operation, as well as the attacks perpetrated against peacekeepers, about 20 of whom have been wounded, and one who succumbed to his wounds.

We would like to remind you that any attack against peacekeepers is a war crime. Their authors and those who support them will certainly have to answer for their crimes in court.

We also wish to express that an offer of a peaceful settlement had previously been made to the targeted groups, who rejected it.

Finally, we wish to emphasize that, in close coordination with the Government of the Central African Republic, we are ready to use all means available to the international community to create conditions for the restoration of peace in CAR. Among these means, dialogue will be our first action followed by, if necessary, the use of force.

Our joint presence here, in collaboration with the Central African Government, is intended to reaffirm our unambiguous commitment to the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in CAR, which, as the United Nations Security Council has stated, represents the only way forward to exit from crisis.

To the people of Bangui, we also call for calm. We ask them not to be victim to rumours and manipulation. Your authorities are working hard with MINUSCA to restore public order and ensure the protection of all civilian populations, without distinction.

Signed,

Mr Smaïl Chergui
Peace and Security Commissioner of the African Union

Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

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Note to Correspondents on the investigations into allegations ‎of sexual exploitation and abuse against peacekeepers deployed in the Central African Republic (05.12.2016)

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The Office of Internal Oversight Services has concluded its investigative process on the allegations ‎of sexual exploitation and abuse against Burundian and Gabonese contingents deployed in Dekoa, Kemo prefecture, in the Central African Republic. 

These allegations referred to incidents between 2014 and 2015. OIOS has conducted joint investigations with Burundian and Gabonese national investigative officers. Investigations started in April 2016, a few days after the allegations were brought to the attention of the United Nations and lasted for more than four months. The investigators relied primarily on the testimony of possible victims and witnesses given the lack of medical, forensic or any other physical evidence. This was due to the fact that the majority of the allegations referred to incidents that took place a year or more earlier. Everyone who came forward with claims, both minors and adults, were assisted by national and international partners.

Overall, 139 possible victims were interviewed and their accounts were investigated. By means of photo array and/or other corroborating evidence a total of 41 alleged perpetrators (16 from Gabon and 25 from Burundi) were identified by 45 interviewees; eight persons were unable to identify perpetrators through photo array or other corroborating evidence but were able to describe some distinctive traits; 83 were not able to identify perpetrators or provide corroborating evidence; and three accounts were considered unreliable. A total of 25 minors asserted they had been sexually abused. A total of eight paternity claims were filed, including by six minors.

The United Nations has shared the OIOS report with both Member States, including the names of the identified alleged perpetrators and has requested for appropriate judicial actions to ensure criminal accountability.

Responsibility for further investigations lies with Burundi and Gabon. The United Nations has requested from the Burundian and Gabonese authorities that they review the OIOS findings and conduct the interviews of the alleged perpetrators who had all been rotated out from Central African Republic before the allegations surfaced. The United Nations has asked for a copy of the final national investigation reports to be transmitted urgently.

The alleged perpetrators, if allegations against them are substantiated, and, if warranted, their commanding officers, will not be accepted again for deployment in peacekeeping operations.

MINUSCA has strengthened its prevention measures and reinforced its outreach among communities and peacekeepers across the country, especially in high-risk areas to improve awareness and reporting on sexual exploitation and abuse and other forms of misconduct. The Mission is also regularly monitoring conditions and behaviour of mission’s personnel and has partnered with United Nations agencies and implementing partners in Central African Republic that provide psychosocial, medical and legal assistance to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.

The United Nations condemns, in the strongest terms, all acts of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by peacekeepers or any other UN personnel and will maintain follow up so that perpetrators of these abhorrent acts are brought to justice.

As Delivered: UN Assistant Secretary-General Kwang-Wha Kang remarks to the EU Pledging Conference on the Central African Republic (Brussels – 26.05.2015)

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