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Human Rights Council holds separate dialogues on Central African Republic and on Côte d’Ivoire

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Hears Address by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ecuador

GENEVE (28 June 2016) - The Human Rights Council held at its midday meeting separate interactive dialogues with Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, and with Mohammed Ayat, Independent Expert on the enhancement of capacity-building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights.

The Council also heard an address by Guillaume Long, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, who said that over the last 10 years, Ecuador had seen improvements in all the sustainable development indicators at an unprecedented pace. Ecuador had had to overcome huge resistance confronting dogmas such as the idea that imposing a neoliberal approach was the only way out of underdevelopment. Ecuador acknowledged that States were actively participating in drafting a resolution about the need to draft a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and their impact on human rights. Another example of the grave international situation was the humanitarian crisis.

The United Kingdom spoke in right of reply in response to the Minister’s statement.

In her presentation, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, welcomed the adoption by the Government of constitutional reforms and the promulgation of a law on serious human rights violations. She also welcomed steps taken to ensure accountability, but noted that insecurity and the intimidation of witnesses remained challenging. Capacity-building of civil society was vital. There was also a need to prevent new conflicts, show real will, and bring about institutional reforms and win back trust. The Central African Republic needed to be able to count on the coordinated support of the international community.

Celestin N’zala, Coordinator of the Network for Human Rights in the Central African Republic, said that the peacekeeping operation and humanitarian assistance had confined the armed groups, and that the adoption of the new Constitution had marked the return to constitutional order. However, given the lack of the effective control of the entire territory by the Government, and because MINUSCA was not carrying out correctly its protection mandate, human rights were still being violated, and civilians were under constant threat of violence by armed forces.

Speaking as the concerned country, Central African Republic said that it had just returned to a normal situation, but security remained a major concern. The priorities of the Government were based on security, disarming armed groups, and national reconciliation. Those three pillars were an expression of the fact that many armed groups still controlled parts of the territory of the country. The Central African Republic was at a crossroads, the country was fragile, and the international community had a responsibility to protect it, and needed to act to make sure its principles were respected. The international community needed to work together.

During the ensuing dialogue, speakers welcomed that the situation in the Central African Republic had significantly improved, despite continuing abuses perpetrated by armed groups against the civilian population and humanitarian convoys. They welcomed the peaceful holding of elections, and the new Government’s commitments towards disarmament, demobilization and reconciliation. Speakers stressed the need for accountability, and called for further efforts towards the prompt establishment of the Special Criminal Court and collaboration with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Speakers particularly underlined the need for accountability for abuses against children by armed groups and United Nations peacekeepers. They urged the international community to strengthen its support to the Central African Republic.

Speaking during the interactive dialogue on the Central African Republic were European Union, Egypt, Spain, United Kingdom, Republic of Congo, France, Senegal, Portugal, Morocco, Australia, Algeria, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Mozambique, Sudan, Benin, United States, Ghana, China, New Zealand and Ireland.

World Evangelical Alliance, Save the Children International, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Human Rights Watch and Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme also took the floor.

The Council then held an interactive dialogue with Mohammed Ayat, Independent Expert on the enhancement of capacity-building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights.

In his presentation, Mr. Ayat said that Côte d’Ivoire was at a major turning point, as it would now fully own its human rights protection and promotion processes. This would require both the support and the vigilance of the international community. It was important that Côte d’Ivoire continued efforts to consolidate stability and prevent community tensions, that it stepped up the fight against terrorism while complying with human rights, and that it consolidated the disarmament process. The Government also needed to strengthen the judicial system, improve prison conditions, and establish a national human rights institution compliant with the Paris Principles.

Speaking as the concerned country, Côte d’Ivoire noted that its Government had recently created a national committee for the fight against sexual violence in conflict, and a National Observatory for Gender Equality. Following its adhesion to the Rome Statue, Côte d’Ivoire had begun harmonizing its laws with international instruments, and had continued its cooperation with international mechanisms. A Ministry on Solidarity and Victim Compensation had been established in order to facilitate the return of 2,000 refugees from Liberia.

During the ensuing dialogue, speakers welcomed positive developments in the fields of human rights and national reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as remarkable progress at the economic and social levels. Speakers particularly appreciated the efforts made by Côte d’Ivoire to fight sexual abuse of women and children. Speakers noted with concern allegations of bias within justice proceedings dealing with the post-election crisis in 2011, including the fact that the trial of Simone Gbagbo did not meet fair trial standards. Priority had to be given to judicial reform, they said, while encouraging Côte d’Ivoire to continue ongoing reforms to fight against impunity and to continue its work with the International Criminal Court.

Speaking during the interactive dialogue on Côte d’Ivoire were European Union, South Africa on behalf of the African Group, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Togo, Mali, Morocco, Benin, Algeria, Australia, China, Congo, Senegal, United States, Egypt, Ghana, Maldives, Belgium and Sudan.

International Catholic Child Bureau, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, International Service for Human Rights, Espace Afrique International and Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme also spoke.

At 3.30 p.m., the Council will continue its full day of meetings with a panel discussion on the use of sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights for all.