Central African Republic: UN human rights experts raise alarm on continuous violence and insecurity

GENEVA (5 August 2013) – A group of United Nations independent experts today raised the alarm over the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, warning that “the rule of law is almost non-existent, and abuses of power and impunity have become the norm.” The experts urged the current authorities to take immediate steps to put an end to all human rights violations and ensure there is no impunity for the perpetrators.

“We are seriously concerned over reported acts of killings, torture, arbitrary detention, gender-based violence, enforced disappearances, ‘mob justice’ and the pervasive climate of insecurity and the absence of the rule of law which have prevailed in the country in the last five months,” the human rights experts said.

On 22 March 2013, several rebel movements organized in an informal coalition known as Seleka, resumed hostilities against the Government. Two days later they entered the capital, Bangui, and assumed power. The Central African Republic is at present governed by a National Transitional Council headed by Michel Djotodia and a transitional government of 34 members formed on 12 June 2013.

“There have been a number of killings, sometimes in retaliation for incidents of ‘mob justice’ against members of the Seleka coalition. Some 46 cases are allegedly documented,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns.

“I call for a thorough, transparent and independent investigation of all suspected cases of arbitrary executions to identify and bring to justice those responsible,” Mr. Heyns stressed

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, warned that “torture seems to be widespread in the country,” noting that at least 25 persons have reportedly died as a result of torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment.

“There is an absolute and non-derogable ban under International Human Rights Law on the use of torture as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, Mr. Méndez said. “I urge the authorities to make sure that every allegation of torture or of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is investigated by law enforcement officers and that those responsible are held accountable for their acts.”

“Numerous cases of violence against women, in particular sexual abuse and rape, have been reported in all of the localities that Seleka combatants have passed through,” said the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo. Between 13 and 16 April, in the Boy-Rabe neighborhood of Bangui, a number of women and young girls, some of whom are between the ages of 12 and14 years old, have allegedly been raped during operations that supposedly aimed at pacifying and disarming the neighborhood.

“The State has a responsibility to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons,” Ms. Manjoo said. “Women and girls must be provided with access to medical, psychological, social and other assistance as well as to effective mechanisms of justice and to just and effective remedies for the harm that they have suffered.”

The UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances has received information on alleged cases of enforced disappearances. The expert group expressed deep concern at allegations that a number of civilians as well as officers and soldiers of the official army (FACA) had been abducted by armed Seleka groups. On 14 April 2013, a Staff sergeant of the amphibious battalion and a first class soldier of the ex-presidential guard were reportedly arrested and brought to an unknown destination.

“Any act of enforced disappearance is an offence to human dignity and no circumstances whatsoever may be invoked to justify this heinous crime,” the Working Group underscored.

UN Human Rights, country page – Central African Republic: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CFIndex.aspx

For more information log on to:
Summary executions: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx
Torture: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx
Violence against women: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/SRWomenIndex.aspx
Enforced Disappearances: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Detention/Pages/WGADIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Nina Sluga (+41 22 917 9362 / nsluga@ohchr.org).

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