CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: UN to investigate October rights abuses
Bangui, 11 November 2002 (IRIN) - The UN Peace-building office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) has set up a commission to investigative human rights violations perpetrated in October when former government army soldiers invaded the capital, Bangui, in an attempt to oust President Ange-Felix Patasse, a senior UN official told reporters on 8 November.
Lamine Cisse, the UN Secretary-General's special representative in the country, said the commission would investigate Chadian government claims that the Central African Republic (CAR) army had killed 150 Chadians at a cattle market 13 km from Bangui. "It is only after investigations that we will know what happened," he said.
The commission comprises representatives from the human rights section of BONUCA, from the UN Children's Fund, the UN Development Programme, the Ligue Centrafricain des Droits d l'homme, the Observatoire Centrafricain des Droits de l'Homme, the Association des Femmes Juristes de Centrafrique, the Action Chretienne contre la Torture, and Medicos Sin Fronteras-Espana.
Human rights bodies said that forces of Jean Pierre Bemba's Mouvement de liberation de Congo, which had come to Bangui to shore up the government army during the attack, had committed most of the rights violations by raping and looting. CAR Minister of State for Communication Gabriel Jean Edouard Koyambounou said on 5 November that Bemba's fighters - now 27 km north of the city - would return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo following the arrival this week of peacekeeping troops from the Central African Economic and Monetary Community.
The 25-31 October attack by the rebels - supporters of the renegade armed forces chief of staff, Gen Francois Bozize - has been repulsed. Cisse said some of the retreating fighters had been based in Damara (80 km north of Bangui), Sibut (185 km north of Bangui), Bambari (385 km northeast of Bangui), and Kabo (650 km north of the capital). He said the rebels were still holding the CAR presidential spokesman, Prosper Ndouba, in Sibut.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]