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Human rights violations in the Central African Republic

Panel investigates human rights violations in CAR - Mr. Bernard Acho Muna, Chairman of the International Commission of Inquiry in the Central African Republic (CAR), on Monday in New York warned that the spread of hate speech and the collapse of law and order in the strife-riven country might have caused grave human rights violations, including genocide.


Mr. Muna, who spoke with UN reporters, said: 'We want to present to the UN Security Council a complete file so the appropriate action can be taken.'

He said the Commission was tasked with probing reports of human rights violations in the CAR, compiling information, and helping to identify the perpetrators of such abuses.

He said the spread of propaganda and the collapse of law and order in the CAR could be a precursor to serious human rights violations, including genocide.

'We would like to talk to the refugees, groups of Muslims or groups of Christians, who are running away from violence. They have a story to tell and those stories might lead us to be able to give a better picture to the Security Council,' the Chairman said.

He said the investigators had also heard reports of genocide, noting: 'I can tell you from my Rwandan experience that there is definitely a question of hate propaganda. I think it is implied in our mandate to see that we don't wait until genocide has been committed and then we call for prosecution.'

Mr. Muna, who is a former prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), stated: 'I think it is in our mandate to see how we can stop any advances towards genocide.'

The Commission, which also includes Ms. Fatimata M’Baye of Mauritania and Mr. Jorge Castaneda of Mexico, is expected to submit its initial report to the UN Security Council within six months.

The three-person inquiry, established by the Council, is expected in the CAR on Tuesday and where it will begin gathering evidence amid what UN Emergency Coordinator, Ms. Valerie Amos, recently described as an 'extremely grave' situation, after months of inter-religious violence in the country.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the CAR and 2.2 million, about half the population, are in need of humanitarian aid as a result of the conflict, which erupted when Seleka rebels launched attacks in December 2012.

The fighting has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) have taken up arms.

The UN estimates that some 650,000 have been internally displaced, while nearly300,000 other have fled to neighbouring countries.

Pana 11/03/2014