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Diplomacy in Action

Central African Republic


Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report
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Introduction

The following information reports U.S. government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) to promote democracy and human rights. For background on the Central African Republic's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at www.state.gov.

Part I: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

Governance in the Central African Republic (CAR) is extremely weak due to numerous political upheavals dating back to the 1980s. Instability endures as a result of the presence of multiple insurgent groups, bands of highway robbers active throughout the north, an extremely weak and often ineffective military, and limited state presence outside of Bangui. While the CAR Government has shown improvement in its financial management, it remains deeply underfunded and relies heavily on donor support.

To promote democratic principles and effective governance in a secure environment, the priorities of the U.S. Government include reducing corruption and human rights abuses, strengthening government institutions, training for media professionals and improving financial management. These policy goals require increased U.S. engagement with the Central African government, the media, the military, support for elections, and civil society. The U.S. Government is attempting, through democratic reforms and institution building, to promote a stronger Central African Government at the nexus of Chad/Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda.

Part II: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The U.S. held numerous meetings in 2009 with government officials and leaders from civil society representing unions, human rights organizations, and journalism associations in an effort to forge a shared understanding of human rights, press freedom, trafficking in persons, religious freedom, and transparency. In 2009-2010, the U.S. launched two significant democracy projects on elections and strengthening civil society, and in 2010 the U.S. plans to observe the country's national elections to help increase transparency and assess any elements of the electoral system that might need and could potentially benefit from future U.S. assistance. Also, through the International Visitor Leadership Program, the U.S. Government also continued to send members of Central Africa's civil society to training seminars in the United States.

In 2009-2010, the U.S. made financial resources available to assist a local private radio station to extend its previous broadcast range, effectively doubling it. The station broadcasts news programs in both Sango and French, providing crucial information for citizens regarding the need to respect human rights, develop civic pride, and foster good governance. To minimize corruption and promote civic education and responsible media practices, the U.S. undertook public diplomacy activities featuring a series of events at the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center, and sponsored the visit of a U.S. speaker to Bangui to train a selected group of Bangui University students in journalistic best practices. To promote transparency in the extractive industries, the U.S. Government has continued developing a partnership with the Ministry of Mines to facilitate the implementation of the Kimberley Process through a multi-year property rights promotion project in the southwest of the country.

To increase security forces' respect for human rights, the U.S. facilitated engineering and disaster preparedness training for the Central African Army. The U.S fostered the training to endow the force with an increased ability to react to disasters in the civil and military realm. The United States also sent military personnel to English language instruction, as well as seminars for the new generation of African military leaders.

Recognizing the difficulties faced by human rights defenders, the U.S. continues to explore ways to provide urgent assistance to defenders who are under threat, including by providing legal assistance to journalists or NGO activists who may have been arbitrarily arrested for politically motivated reasons, or by providing security measures to defenders being harassed or receiving threats. In addition, in 2010 the United States plans to create a mechanism to improve life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities; prevent torture, starvation, and other forms of inhuman or cruel treatment common to the country's penal system; and provide legal assistance to vulnerable persons--including women accused of the crime of witchcraft--who have been detained arbitrarily and endured lengthy pretrial detention.



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