Annual Report: Central African Republic 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Central African Republic 2013

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Central African Republic

Head of state François Bozizé

Head of government Faustin Archange Touadéra

The people of the Central African Republic remained at grave risk of abuse and violence, as numerous armed groups continued to operate, despite several declaring they had ceased fighting. Many civilians were killed, abducted, ill-treated or subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence. Most perpetrators enjoyed complete impunity.

Background

The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) decided that MICOPAX (Mission for the consolidation of peace in Central African Republic) would end in December 2013. Several hundred French soldiers continued to be deployed in the Central African Republic (CAR), supporting and training government soldiers and supporting MICOPAX.

In September, the African Union took political responsibility for a regional force combating the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Peacekeepers in the CAR clashed several times with small contingents of the LRA, killing some and capturing others. In May, the Ugandan army announced it had captured senior LRA commander Caesar Achellam.

In early December, a coalition of armed groups known as Seleka launched a campaign to overthrow the government. By the end of December, it had captured large swathes of northern CAR, but was prevented from advancing on the capital, Bangui, by MICOPAX troops. At the end of the year, the two sides agreed to negotiate. Several hundred South African troops were deployed in Bangui at the request of the government.

Abuses by armed groups

Abuses by armed groups – including killings, torture and abductions – were reported throughout the year in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

Numerous abuses in northern CAR – including killings, abductions and looting – were attributed to remnants of the Popular Front for Recovery (FPR), which originated from Chad. In January, a combined force of the CAR and Chadian armies in northern CAR attacked bases of the FPR, scattering combatants. In September, FPR leader Baba Laddé returned to Chad. Hundreds of FPR combatants, and civilians who had been living with them, were repatriated a month later.

Although there were reportedly fewer killings by the LRA than in previous years, LRA combatants continued to kill unarmed civilians, loot property and use women and girls as sex slaves.

  • In March, 13 men working at a mine in a game reserve in Mbomou province were killed. Erik Mararv, a Swedish owner of the game reserve, and David Simpson, a UK pilot, were accused of killing the men but human rights groups and lawyers claimed the killings bore the hallmarks of the LRA. The charges against the two men were dropped in August after several months in detention.

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration

Several armed groups announced an end to the conflict with the government and committed to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR). The Union of Republican Forces (Union des forces républicaines, UFR) announced in June that it had completed its disarmament and dissolution. The Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (Armée populaire pour la restauration de la démocratie, APRD) declared in July it had ceased to exist as an armed group. Its demobilization had been delayed in January after its leader (national vice-president of the DDR programme Jean-Jacques Demafouth) and two other politicians were accused of plotting against the government and detained. Opposition leaders said that the arrests were politically motivated to sabotage the DDR. The charges were dropped and the men released in May.

In August, the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) armed group and the CAR government signed an agreement to cease hostilities. Scores of CPJP child soldiers had been demobilized in the preceding months. A process to disarm CPJP fighters had not been completed by the end of the year, however, and a faction of the CPJP which did not support the agreement carried out attacks against government soldiers during the second half of the year.

Excessive use of force

CAR government soldiers ill-treated and killed civilians, largely with impunity. Many of the perpetrators were members of the presidential guard.

  • Mijora Delphine Dengwize died in August from injuries sustained when she was shot by an army captain. The captain had opened fire at a crowd protesting against his attempt to arrest civilians he accused of involvement in a violent incident in Bangui. The soldier had a long-standing reputation for committing human rights abuses with impunity.

Violence against women and girls

Chadian government soldiers who had participated in the January operation against the FPR raped more than a dozen women in the northern town of Ndele. Neither the CAR nor the Chadian authorities took action against the perpetrators.

Prisoners of conscience

Eleven prisoners of conscience who had been arrested in June 2010 for their links to a lawyer and a businessman sought by the authorities were granted provisional release in April after a judge ruled they had no case to answer. However, the government appealed against the judge’s decision and a charge of arson was still pending at the end of the year.

Detention without charge or trial

Several people associated with the Ministers of Finance and Justice (who had been dismissed in June and July respectively amid reports that President Bozizé suspected them of plotting to overthrow the government) were arrested in July and August. Those arrested were Laurent Feindiro, brother of the former Minister of Justice, Jean Bianga and Serge-Venant Magna, the driver and a civil servant of the former Minister of Finance respectively. They were still being held without charge or trial at the end of the year.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited the Central African Republic in May and June.