On 13 November 2017, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, announced an independent Special Investigation led by Brigadier General (rtd) Fernand Amoussou (Benin) into a number of incidents in the southeast of the Central African Republic that occurred between 1 May and 31 August 2017. Members of the multi-disciplinary investigation team included human rights, protection of civilians, legal and political experts.
The security situation in the southeast of the Central African Republic deteriorated in May 2017, with increased attacks against civilians, humanitarian actors as well as peacekeepers belonging to the United Nations Mission deployed in the country (MINUSCA).
The investigation looked into attacks against civilians by armed groups that occurred in close proximity to a presence of MINUSCA in Haute-Kotto, Basse-Kotto, Mbomou, and Haut-Mbomou prefectures as well as the Mission’s response to these incidents. The investigation report was submitted to DPKO and DFS on 15 December 2017. General Amoussou provided recommendations to improve MINUSCA’s ability to protect civilians under imminent threat of violence in areas where it is deployed.
The Special Investigation held consultations and interviews in New York and in the Central African Republic with relevant interlocutors and stakeholders, including local authorities, civil society, witnesses and victims, Security Council members, troop- and police- contributing countries, MINUSCA personnel and humanitarian partners and reviewed a wide range of reports and documents related to the incidents.
Among the main findings were:
· The Mission has a well-established protection of civilians strategy and functioning early warning mechanisms. However, in the cases investigated, these did not translate into preventive actions and there were deficiencies in civil-military-police planning, and operations, particularly at the field level.
· A number of gaps were identified with regard to T/PCCs training and their understanding of protection of civilians.
· No evidence was found that any of the Mission’s contingents in the southeast had acted in a partial manner towards certain armed groups or communities.
General Amoussou offered a number of recommendations for United Nations Headquarters (UNHQ) and MINUSCA and troop- and police- contributing countries, including:
· MINUSCA should review its protection of civilians strategy to ensure that its operational response is better aligned to and supported by its political engagement and that the Mission’s civilian components are more proactively involved.
· UNHQ should develop and strengthen tools to address shortcomings and engage troop-and police-contributing countries with performance gaps to ensure a better operational readiness.
· UNHQ and MINUSCA, in collaboration with troop-and police-contributing countries, should review pre-deployment and in-Mission training to ensure proper understanding of protection of civilians requirements, with an emphasis on the role of commanders and senior leadership.