Central African Republic: Amnesty International expresses deep concern over escalating attacks

Amnesty International has expressed deep concern about the deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). In recent months members of the security forces and armed gangs out of the government's control have escalated their attack on unarmed civilians.

Armed gangs are reported to have killed dozens of people in the northern part of the Central African Republic and to have ransacked homes and stolen property. In some cases, gang members forced their abductees to carry the looted property.

Government soldiers have also abused the human rights of journalists and other human rights defenders who have spoken out against these human rights violations.

Amnesty International has also received reports that more than 10,000 people are reported to have fled to southern Chad to escape the violence. In the aftermath of the attacks by armed gangs, government soldiers deployed in northern CAR to fight the armed gangs are reported to have attacked civilians accusing them of collaborating with or being members of the armed gangs.

In the capital of the CAR, Bangui, members of the security forces are reported to have carried out unlawful killings with impunity.

On 5 January 2006, two people were shot dead by members of the security forces who attacked a group of mourners. The mourners were returning from the funeral of an army sergeant who had been killed by members of the presidential guard after he killed a senior military officer.

The sergeant had been removed from the custody of the gendarmerie and summarily executed by fellow soldiers. The government is not known to have taken any action against the soldiers who killed the civilians or the army sergeant.

A former member of the presidential guard who has reportedly killed several people and severely beaten others since 2004 has threatened human rights defenders and journalists with impunity.

He was arrested and released without charge or trial during 2005. The government has taken no action against the soldier, despite protests by human rights activists and reports in the press about his violence.

There are fears that he may continue terrorising people in the CAR with impunity.

Amnesty International has learned that the same soldier has threatened to kill at least one journalist and two human rights defenders.

Those reportedly threatened in January 2006 include:

  • Maka Gbossokoto, the director of Le Citoyen independent newspaper and President of the Central African Journalist Union (UJCA)
  • Nganatouwa Goungaye Wanfiyo, a lawyer and president of the LCDH
  • Adolphe Ngouyombo, president of the Movement for Human Rights and Humanitarian Action, Mouvement pour les Droits de l'Homme et l'Action Humanitaire (MDDH).

Amnesty International calls on the Central African Republic Government to enforce its national laws and abide by its international obligations, as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights the Africa Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and other human rights treaties to which the Central African Republic is party.

The organisation urges the government to protect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, particularly the right to life.

Furthermore, the government should ensure that journalists and human rights defenders freely exercise their freedom of expression and association.

Members of the security forces suspected of violating human rights must be brought to justice. In addition, the government must put in place and enforce mechanisms to deter impunity.

Amnesty International also calls on the international community to encourage the Central African Government to protect and promote human rights.

The Monetary and Economic Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) and France should ensure that their assistance to the Central African government and its security forces includes promotion and protection of human rights.

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