CAR

Public Statement by Chair of Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict - 15 April 2020

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SC/14161

The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, in connection with the examination of the fourth report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in the Central African Republic (document S/2019/852), agreed to convey the following messages through a public statement by the Chair of the Working Group:

To all armed groups operating in the Central African Republic, in particular the former Séléka coalition and associated armed groups, including le Front Populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC), le Mouvement patriotique pour la Centrafrique (MPC) and l’Union pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC), as well as the local militias known as anti-Balaka (AB), and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General:

  • Expressing grave concern at and its strongest condemnation of the grave violations and abuses that continue to be committed against children in the Central African Republic, and urging them to immediately end and prevent all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access and to comply with their obligations under international law;

  • Welcoming the signing of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic between the Government of the Central African Republic and 14 armed groups on 6 February 2019, which contains several child protection provisions, expressing deep concern that, despite encouraging steps in the implementation process and overall improvement of the security situation, armed groups continued to commit violations and abuses and reports of killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access, including attacks against humanitarian personnel, were verified, and urging the signatories to the peace agreement to reinforce their efforts to implement it, including its specific provisions to protect children, and end and prevent grave violations and abuses against them;

  • Expressing deep concern and condemnation of the continued recruitment and use of children, welcoming the release from armed groups of over 8,600 boys and girls and strongly urging all armed groups to immediately and without conditions release all children still associated with them, urging in particular those armed groups participating in the national DDRR programme to share lists of associated children and facilitate their separation before and during the implementation of the programme, and urging all armed groups to end and prevent further recruitment and use of children under 18 years of age, consistent with their obligations under international law, including the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, as applicable;

  • Expressing deep concern at the killing and maiming of children, including those resulting from attacks against their communities due to their ethnic and/or religious identity, and urging all armed groups to cease the killing and maiming of children;

  • Expressing deep concern at cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence perpetrated against girls and boys, and urging all armed groups to take immediate and specific measures to put an end to and prevent the perpetration of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children;

  • Strongly condemning the abduction of children, of which the majority of cases were attributed to the LRA, and calling upon all concerned parties to cease the abduction of children and immediately release all abducted children;

  • Strongly condemning the attacks on schools and hospitals in violation of international law, and calling upon all armed groups to comply with applicable international law and to respect the civilian character of schools and hospitals, including their personnel, as such, and to end and prevent disproportionate or indiscriminate attacks or threats of attacks against those institutions and their personnel as well as the military use of schools and hospitals in violation of applicable international law;

  • Strongly condemning the increasing incidents of denial of humanitarian access, including attacks on humanitarian personnel, and calling upon all armed groups to allow and facilitate safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to children, consistent with the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance, to respect the exclusively humanitarian nature and impartiality of humanitarian aid and to respect the work of all United Nations agencies, and their humanitarian partners, without adverse distinction;

  • Welcoming the signing of an Action Plan with the United Nations by the MPC in May 2018, by the FPRC in June 2019 and by the UPC in August 2019, the issuing of Command Orders to stop the recruitment and use of children, the subsequent release of children and the appointment of Child Protection Focal Points by these three armed groups; urging them to swiftly implement these action plans; and urging all other armed groups to develop, adopt and implement action plans with the United Nations to end and prevent all six grave violations against children affected by armed conflict;

  • Recalling that the situation in the Central African Republic since 1 August 2012 was referred by the national authorities to the International Criminal Court on 30 May 2014 and that the Prosecutor of the Court announced a decision on 24 September 2014 to open an investigation into the alleged perpetration by all parties, including the ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka groups, of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the use of children in armed combat, and that some acts mentioned in paragraph 8(a) above may amount to crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which the Central African Republic is a State party, and taking note in that respect of the transfer of anti-Balaka leaders Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona to the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity;

  • Recalling that the Security Council by its resolution 2454 (2019) renewed until 31 January 2020 the asset freeze and travel ban measures imposed by resolutions 2127 (2013) and 2134 (2014), which apply to individuals and entities as designated by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to paragraph 57 of resolution 2127 (2013) (2127 sanctions Committee), for actions that undermine the peace, stability or security of the Central African Republic such as:

  • Being involved in planning, directing or committing acts that violate international human rights law or international humanitarian law, as applicable, or that constitute human rights abuses or violations in the Central African Republic, including acts involving sexual violence, targeting of civilians, ethnic or religious-based attacks, attacks on schools and hospitals, abduction and forced displacement;

  • Recruiting or using children in armed conflict in the Central African Republic, in violation of applicable international law;

  • Obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Central African Republic, or access to or distribution of, humanitarian assistance in the Central African Republic;

  • Expressing the readiness of the Working Group to communicate to the Security Council pertinent information with a view to assisting the Council in the imposition of targeted measures on perpetrators;

To the Government of the Central African Republic

  • Welcoming the signing of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic between the Government of the Central African Republic and 14 armed groups on 6 February 2019, and calling upon the parties to reinforce their efforts to implement it, including its specific provisions to protect children, and end and prevent grave violations and abuses against them;

  • Stressing the primary role of the Government in providing protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflict in the Central African Republic, welcoming the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict on 21 September 2017, and urging the Government to rapidly domesticate it, welcoming the adoption of the Child Protection Code that includes the criminalization of child recruitment and use and encouraging the Government to promptly adopt the protocol for the handover of children associated with armed groups to civilian child protection actors;

  • Stressing the importance of accountability for all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict, taking note of the transfer of anti‑Balaka leaders Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona to the International Criminal Court, but remaining preoccupied by the prevalence of impunity for perpetrators of grave violations and abuses against children and urging the authorities to ensure that all perpetrators are brought to justice and held accountable without undue delay, including through timely and systematic investigation and, as appropriate, prosecution and conviction;

  • Calling upon the Special Criminal Court, which was inaugurated in 2018, to integrate all grave violations and abuses against children in its prosecution strategy;

  • Encouraging the establishment of the Commission on Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Reparations, as foreseen in the Peace Agreement, and the integration of child protection standards throughout the development of transitional justice processes, such as the screening of individuals entering the Central African defence and security forces for grave violations against children;

  • Expressing concern about the detention of children for their alleged association with armed groups, urging the Government to treat these children primarily as victims of recruitment and use, to hand them immediately and without preconditions over to relevant civilian child protection actors, and to ensure that, where children face prosecution for allegedly committing crimes, those prosecutions respect the rights of the child;

  • Encouraging the Government to focus on long-term and sustainable reintegration and rehabilitation opportunities for children affected by armed conflict that are gender- and age-sensitive, including access to health care, psychosocial support and education programmes, as well as raising awareness and working with communities to avoid the stigmatization of these children and facilitate their return, while taking into account the specific needs of girls and boys, including for children with disabilities, to contribute to the well-being of children and to sustainable peace and security, and encouraging the Government to nominate a Child Protection Focal Point within the national DDRR programme;

  • Calling upon the Government to ensure access for survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence to specialized services for survivors, taking into account the specific needs of girls and boys, as well as accountability for those who commit or are otherwise responsible for sexual and gender-based violence against children;

  • Encouraging the Government to work on the prevention of grave violations and abuses against children, as per Security Council resolution 2427 (2018), including through the development with armed groups and civil society of a national prevention plan;

To all United Nations peacekeeping forces, including the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and non-United Nations forces currently or formerly present in the Central African Republic and relevant Member States

  • Expressing deep distress over continued allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against children by some United Nations peacekeepers, and strongly condemning all acts of sexual exploitation and abuse;

  • Calling upon the United Nations and relevant Member States to take appropriate measures, in line with the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel through timely investigation, and to take appropriate steps to hold perpetrators accountable and repatriate units when there is credible evidence of widespread or systemic sexual exploitation and abuse by those units, and to ensure that child victims and witnesses are adequately protected during the investigation process and to facilitate access to medical and psychological support, as appropriate, and in that respect welcoming the appointment of a Field Victims’ Rights Advocate by MINUSCA and the adoption of a victim-centred approach, enabling most child victims to access services and education/vocation training; (SG report para. 77, 88)

  • Urging further efforts by relevant Member States to take appropriate preventative action, including vetting of all personnel and the delivery of robust pre-deployment training concerning sexual exploitation and abuse in accordance with the terms of their memorandums of understanding and other agreements with the United Nations;

To neighbouring States, regional organizations and all international partners:

  • Encouraging neighbouring States, regional organizations and all international partners to support the peace process, including to end and prevent grave violations and abuses against children, in a coherent and coordinated manner and through strengthened partnerships, and emphasizing the important role of the guarantors and facilitators of the Peace Agreement, including the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and neighbouring States, using their influence to enhance adherence by armed groups to their commitments.

To community and religious leaders:

  • Emphasizing the important role of community and religious leaders in strengthening the protection of children affected by armed conflict and fostering reconciliation efforts;

  • Urging them to strengthen community-level protection and to publicly condemn and continue to advocate ending and preventing violations and abuses against children, notably the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks and threats of attacks on schools and hospitals, abductions and denial of humanitarian access, including on the basis of religion, and to engage with the Government, the United Nations and other relevant stakeholders to support re-integration and rehabilitation of children affected by armed conflict in their communities, including by raising awareness to avoid stigmatization of these children.

For information media. Not an official record.