UN experts urge the Central African Republic to cut ties with Russia’s Wagner group over serious allegations of human rights abuses

UN experts on Wednesday urged the Central African Republic to cut ties with Russia’s Wagner group, accusing the private security force of violent harassment, intimidation and sexual abuse.

Wagner personnel working closely with the Central African Republic army and police have harassed peacekeepers, journalists, humanitarian workers and minorities, they said in a joint statement.

“We call on the government of the Central African Republic to end all relations with private military and security personnel, in particular the Wagner group,” they said.

UN experts do not speak on behalf of the world body, but are mandated to inform you of their findings.

The Wagner group, with which Moscow denies any link, provides maintenance services, military equipment and training in the countries where they are deployed, generally on the status of “instructors.”

But critics have frequently accused the group of rights abuses and serving the interests of the Kremlin.

Wagner’s staff have been reported in the Central African Republic and other African countries, as well as Syria and Libya, and the Malian board has also contemplated a deal, according to French sources.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has called them “a company of Russian mercenaries who wage war by proxy on Russia’s behalf,” adding that “even if Russia denies it, no one is fooled.” with the Central African Republic “the most spectacular example”. of the group’s shares.

‘Human rights abuses’

On Tuesday, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that “Russian mercenaries engage in human rights abuses of civilians, obtain high costs in payments and mining concessions, and deprive local citizens of critically needed resources “.

UN experts said that many forces, including Wagner, had been committing grave and systemic human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests, torture, disappearances and summary executions.

They said they had also received reports that Wagner agents in the Central African Republic had committed rape and sexual abuse, but that survivors were “terrified” to come forward for fear of retaliation.

The experts included the working groups on the use of mercenaries to violate human rights; on business and human rights; and on forced disappearances; plus the special rapporteurs on torture and extrajudicial executions.

“We urge the authorities to comply with their obligations under international law to hold all perpetrators of serious violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in their territory,” they said.

Moscow has said there are 1,135 “unarmed instructors” in the Central African Republic, who support the embattled government of President Faustin Archange Touadera.

The Central African Republic is the second poorest country in the world, according to UN figures. It has been ravaged by a civil war since 2013, although the level of fighting has decreased since 2018.

(AFP)

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