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|October 11, 2008|
mounting human rights abuses in CARCentral African Republic: UN reports mounting human rights abuses
10 October 2008- Extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary arrests, mostly attributed to the defense and security forces and encouraged by a culture of impunity, have contributed to a considerable deterioration in human rights in the Central African Republic (CAR), according to a United Nations report released today.
"The Central African Republic (Government) is urgently advised to resolutely follow a policy that is based more firmly on the struggle against impunity," the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in the country, known by its French acronym BONUCA, says.
Drawn up by BONUCA's human rights section, the report cites a serious worsening of the security situation in the north of the country where Government forces, rebels and highway bandits have been active, all of whom committed atrocities. In the south-east, the rebel Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has been reported to be operating. But most violations are attributed to the forces of order. "In effect, these agents do not respect the ban on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, nor that on arbitrary arrest and detention," says the report, which covers the first six months of 2008.
"The forces of defense and security whose mission is to protect the civilian population blithely violate the laws of war. In their operations against rebels or bandits they make no distinction between those who have taken up arms and civilians. In reprisal raids, the military burn houses, execute people rightly or wrongly accused of complicity with rebels or bandits." The report cites the case of soldiers parading a vehicle in the town of Bouar with severed heads that they claimed belonged to highway bandits they had shot.
Meanwhile, the bandits who, according to information received by BONUCA, could be Chadians , torture travelers, plunder local residents, and kidnap women and children for ransom. The presence of both bandits and the defense forces has forced thousands of villagers who had returned to their homes after a previous flight to flee to the bush again.
In Haut Mbomou district in the south-east, 300 armed men from Uganda, widely believe to be the LRA, kidnapped 150 people, including 55 children and physically abused them. Several women said they had been raped.
BONUCA concludes, "the Central African authorities must take urgent concrete actions.
"Impunity remains the major factor in the persistence of extrajudicial and arbitrary executions," it adds, calling for investigations into all allegations of human rights violations and the effective punishment of the perpetrators.