A UN expert said today authorities in the Central African Republic must ensure the protection of candidates, voters and electoral materials in the country's second round of legislative elections and by-elections on March 14.
"Regardless of political party, all candidates, including independents, should have the protection of the security and defence forces for campaigning, field operations, and polling station representation," said Yao Agbetse, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic.
Agbetse said the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) and other armed groups must immediately stop all actions aimed at destabilising the proper conduct of the elections. "I reiterate once again that the perpetrators of abuses and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law will be held accountable."
The expert said all candidates in the elections should have equal access to the public media in CAR. "I encourage the High Council for Communication to continue its work of monitoring the flow of information on the media and social networks and to ensure that the authors of messages of hatred, manipulation and incitement to violence are identified and brought to justice."
The expert commended the efforts of the National Elections Agency and the multi-faceted support provided by MINUSCA, the United Nations country team, and international partners for the success of the elections. He said the Central African authorities should continue and strengthen the conquest of territories formerly occupied by armed groups and the progressive deployment of defence and security forces.
"I call on the Central African authorities to ensure that the second round of elections will be credible, transparent, open and peaceful, that electoral materials will be made available, that the security of all actors will be ensured and that voters will be protected in the exercise of their democratic rights," Agbetse said.
Mr. Yao Agbetse (Togo) is a human rights lawyer, researcher and teacher who has devoted the last 25 years of his life to justice and human rights, including the rights of the child. He has implemented human rights programs at the national level and has provided legal and technical advice for the development and monitoring of national human rights laws and policies, particularly in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Togo. He has created a space and tools for dialogue and joint efforts by state actors and CSOs. In the DRC, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali, it has implemented DDR programs, trained army and police chiefs, and provided support to mandate-holders and United Nations operations, including participating in the interactive dialogue under item 10 during sessions of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. He provided first-hand and factual information to UN experts to help them assess human rights challenges in different countries and made specific and workable recommendations to ensure accountability and access to Justice.
The mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic was established by the Human Rights Council on 27 September 2013.
Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.