None of the CAR Governments in power since independence have promoted genuine democratic reform, respect for human rights and of civil society. Faced with these widespread abuses, little action to ensure accountability for the crimes committed has been taken. As a result, human rights abuses including summary executions and unlawful killings, beatings, house burnings, rape, extortion and unlawful taxation and the recruitment and use of child soldiers are still widespread.
The population continues to suffer widespread human rights abuses on a systematic scale.
Acts of torture, beatings, rape, and other abuses of suspects and prisoners by security forces continue to take place. Conditions in prisons and detention centres remain harsh and life-threatening. The government’s use of arbitrary arrest and detention is increasing significantly, particularly following fighting in the north between rebels and the military, which also contributed to an increase in political detainees. Denial of a fair trial and judicial corruption continue to be a problem. Freedom of movement has deteriorated greatly due to actions by security forces, armed bandits, and rebels. In addition, societal violence, including female genital mutilation (FGM), discrimination against women, and societal discrimination against indigenous people are a regular occurrence. Restrictions on workers’ rights, child labour, and forced labour are other serious abuses of human rights.
In Bangui and a number of other towns, civilians find themselves at the mercy of brutal and ill-trained security forces. The Presidential Guard in particular has been implicated in a number of cases of rape, arbitrary arrest, and assault.
Outside of Bangui, human rights violations are intertwined with the conflict. As individual officers and their units are allowed to commit violations with total impunity (typically rape and house burnings), the failure of the regime to assert control over large areas of the country has allowed small groups of rebels and bandits to act with impunity against civilians and their property. While rebel groups operating in the north of the country are responsible for widespread human rights violations, the Central African Armed Forces and the Presidential Guard are responsible for the majority of the abuses, in particular the burning of houses in retaliation for rebel attacks, as well as summary executions and unlawful killings, looting and forced displacement. Rape has also become quasi institutionalised within militia groups and the military.
Rebel groups in the northwest have been known to carry out widespread looting, kidnappings, forced taxation and beatings of civilians. On 11 June 2007, rebels known as the Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and the Democracy (APRD) “accidentally” fired on a Médecin Sans Frontières vehicle, killing Elsa Serfass, a young French nurse. In the northeast, another rebel group, the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) is known to have carried out unlawful killings, summary executions and widespread looting during attacks on villages.
Furthermore, the few Central African armed forces present in the country are often some of the worst human rights offenders. Despite their training by the FOMUC (Force of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa), the FACA (Forces Armées Centrafricaines) and the GP (Garde Présidentielle) remain renowned for their abusive behaviour and habit of attacking civilians in retaliation for rebel advances.The FACA and GP in particular seem immune from prosecution as they are left to carry out beatings, lootings and summary killings of civilians in total impunity. The absence of prosecution for rape by the FACA and GP is particularly worrying. While a number of cases have been brought to court, they have systematically been dismissed.
Unless the Government takes immediate action to put an end to this culture of impunity, human rights violations will continue to take place on a widespread scale.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
DO THESE CONSTITUTE WAR CRIMES OR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?
SHOULD ANYONE BE PROSECUTED FOR THEM?
IF SO, WHO?