Russian soldiers working for the Wagner Group have violently harassed and intimidated civilians, including peacekeepers, journalists, aid workers, and minorities in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The UN experts said the “so-called Russian instructors” are from the Wagner Group, made up of private military contractors that operate in different parts of the world.
“We are extremely concerned about intimidation and recent reports of violent harassment by private military and security contractors against individuals and communities,” the experts said.
They also asserted that the Russian instructors operating as military and security personnel work closely with police and the CAR army, also known as FACA, and engage in the arrest and detention of individuals.
That means victims often have no access to justice.
“They simply don’t dare lodge official complaints, so impunity for abuses continues for all perpetrators – FACA as well as military and security officers working for the Wagner group,” said the experts.
Experts urge CAR government to end ties with Wagner
The experts also received reports that Wagner Group officers have committed rape and sexual violence against women, men and young girls in many parts of the country, said the statement.
It is not clear how many people have been victims of sexual violence because survivors are terrified to bring their cases to justice for fear of retaliation.
“Being denied access to justice and remedies is a sign of the impunity prevailing in the country,” they said.
“We call on the CAR government to end all relationships with private military and security personnel, particularly the Wagner Group,” the experts said.
They urged the authorities to comply with their obligations under international law.
“They must ensure unhindered access to justice and redress to all victims of violations, including abuses committed by Russian private military and security personnel,” the experts said.
The expert group included members of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and experts from the UN Working Group on human rights.