UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday strongly condemned the arrest of four French soldiers—members of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) responsible for the close protection of the Chief of Staff of the MINUSCA force.
The UN chief called on the government of the Central African Republic “to respect all its obligations under international law, including the Status of Forces Agreement, and to unconditionally hand over these MINUSCA personnel without delay”.
He reaffirmed the UN's continued support for the Central African Republic.
“The 2014 Status of Forces Agreement establishes a specific procedure in cases where members of MINUSCA are suspected by the authorities of the Central African Republic of having committed a crime,” Mr Guterres said. “This procedure was not followed in this case.”
“In accordance with the 2014 Status of Forces Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of the Central African Republic on MINUSCA, these members of MINUSCA enjoy privileges and immunities which are granted to them in the interest of the United Nations,” the Secretary-General's spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said in a statement to the press.
The peacekeepers were arrested by the Central African gendarmerie in Bangui on Monday outside the Bangui-M'poko International Airport, as they accompanied the Chief of Staff on his way to France.
On Tuesday, MINUSCA regretted this incident and strongly condemned “its instrumentalisation on social networks in an attempt to manipulate public opinion”.
The Mission rejected the accusations that the four soldiers attacked state security.
The government has yet to officially comment on the arrest.