of the Government of the Central African Republic
and the United Nations
Bangui, 12 December 2012
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict visited the Central African Republic from 5 to 12 December 2012, within the framework of Security Council resolutions 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009) and 1960 (2010). She met with His Excellency President Francois BOZIZE, the Prime Minister and other Government Minsters and senior officials, leadership of the national Army and Police, representatives of political-military groups, as well as women’s groups, NGOs and survivors of sexual violence.
The objective of the visit was to gain first-hand knowledge of the context and challenges to address conflict-related sexual violence and to focus greater international attention on the situation in the Central African Republic. The Special Representative seeks to deepen dialogue and cooperation with the Government of the Central African Republic and to agree on a framework of cooperation whereby the United Nations may further strengthen its support to national institutions and initiatives on issues related to sexual violence in conflict.
In the past year significant progress has been made to resolve the longstanding conflict in the country, with all the major parties signing the 2008 Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the October 2011 Ceasefire Agreement. However, Incidents of sexual violence have been reported consistently particularly in areas controlled by political-military armed groups and where other armed forces and armed bandits are present. Women, girls and boys are still associated with many of the political-military groups, used as combatants, cooks, porters, messengers and sex slaves. Widespread violations also continue to be committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army operating in the Central African Republic. This includes the abduction of women and girls and their use as sex slaves. There exists a deep culture of silence regarding crimes of sexual violence, which significantly impacts on reporting and response.
The Government has undertaken a number of important measures such as stipulating that human rights violations are to be considered as acts that breach the October 2011 Ceasefire Agreement; adoption of legislation on protection of women from violence (Law No. 06.032); revision of the penal code and Penal Procedure Act to recognize sexual violence, including rape, as a crime; incorporating provisions of the Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Children of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) into national legislation; and preparing a draft national action plan for implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).
In accordance with Security Council resolution 1960 and the Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Children of the ICGLR, the Government of the Central African Republic reiterates its commitment to addressing sexual violence, including through timely investigation and prosecution of such crimes and holding perpetrators accountable.
In line with Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the ICGLR Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Children, the Government of the Central African Republic and the United Nations are committed to strengthening cooperation in a number of critical areas:
- In the context of the implementation of the 2008 Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement – Strengthened support to the National Council for Mediation (Comité de Verification) and ensuring that sexual violence is consistently monitored in the ceasefire verification mechanism (Comité de Suivi);
- In the context of justice sector reform – On-going review and strengthening of relevant national legislation; practical implementation of existing legislation such as the law on the prevention of violence against women; support to the Office of the Attorney General to develop specialized investigation capacity for sexual violence crimes; training of magistrates (including women magistrates and other women in the justice sector); capacity building for justice mechanisms at local level; awareness raising for women on legal procedures; addressing protection of women in traditional justice systems;
- In the context of security sector reform – support the Ministry of Defense and the Army in the elaboration and implementation of a sexual violence ‘zero tolerance policy’ and codes of conduct; training for military personnel on prevention of sexual and other forms of gender based violence and prevention of HIV-AIDS; Support to the Police and Gendarmerie in the establishment of specialized units dealing with crimes against women and children; recruitment and training of female officers; Undertake efforts to vet all elements being integrated into the national security and defense forces and institutions to ensure that those who have committed grave human rights violations, including sexual violence, are excluded from positions of leadership and responsibility;
- In the context of the DDR process – Identification of the most vulnerable groups in the armed forces such as women, girls and boys, and ensuring their early release, family reunification and socio-economic reintegration through separated processes for adults and children [also in accordance with Action Plans on the recruitment and use of children associated with armed forces and groups, under SCR 1612 (2005)]; ensuring that women from civil society and local communities have access to and can influence the implementation of the DDR process, including through regular consultation and engagement with the Minister for Social Affairs, National Solidarity and Promotion of Gender; ensuring HIV-AIDS prevention awareness in the DDR process as a pre-reinsertion package.
- Programmatic response for survivors – Greater support for basic services for survivors, including clinical management of rape and psychosocial support; support to national authorities in the development of a comprehensive national strategy on sexual and other forms of gender based violence;
- Support to national authorities for the operationalization of the National Human Rights Commission, including through training for Commissioners and the support of their work.
The United Nations and the Government of the Central African Republic also stress that all armed forces and groups must make commitments to prevent and punish sexual violence crimes in line with Security Council resolution 1960, the ICGLR Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Children, and the Communique of the DDR Steering Committee (Comité de Pilotage) on Sexual Violence in Conflict (12 December 2012). This includes issuance of command orders regarding sexual violence, including rape, forced and early marriage, through their respective chains of command and political organizations, investigating allegations of sexual violence and holding perpetrators accountable.
The Government of the Central African Republic designates the Minister for Social Affairs, National Solidarity and Promotion of Gender as focal point to work with the United Nations to develop a strategy and implementation plan as relates to the commitments outlined above. The Minister will convene a committee/commission bringing together all relevant Government Ministries and agencies to coordinate action to address this concern.
The Government of the Central African Republic together with partners will commit resources for the implementation of the priorities outlined above, and calls on donors to provide additional support as appropriate.
The United Nations will continue to support the Government of the Central African Republic through BINUCA and the UN Country Team, as well as the Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, the UN Action Network Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, and UN Protection Cluster/ Gender Based Violence Area of Responsibility (GBV-AOR). The UN Team of Experts on Rule of Law/Sexual Violence, on invitation of the Government will also support the implementation of a framework of cooperation in line with the priorities expressed in this Communiqué.