The Central African Republic is a republic with a transitional government of national unity. The president and prime minister share executive power. The legislative and judicial branches are weak. The last general election occurred in 2011. Citizens reelected President Francois Bozize in what national and international observers considered a flawed election. On January 11, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) brokered the Libreville Accords, which provided for transitional and power sharing measures among President Bozize, the political opposition, and the Seleka rebel alliance, which had launched an insurgency in December 2012. Within weeks of the Libreville Accords, Seleka leader Michel Djotodia accused President Bozize of ignoring the agreement, advanced on the capital, and deposed Bozize on March 24. Djotodia proclaimed himself president, suspended the constitution, dissolved the previous government, and began to rule by decree. On April 18, ECCAS adopted the Ndjamena Declaration, which provided for the establishment of a transitional government leading to elections in 18 months after the swearing-in of the transitional president. Djotodia was sworn in as transitional president on August 18 under the terms of the transitional charter, which took effect the same day.
State rule, already weak under Bozize, largely collapsed during the year. The absence of civilian administration, defense, and police forces led to a security vacuum that resulted in lawlessness in Bangui and throughout the country. On September 11, Djotodia formally dissolved the Seleka alliance. Nevertheless, former Seleka members continued to engage in conflict with armed militia groups throughout the country, including with a group called the Young Patriots established in the final days of the Bozize regime to counter the Seleka and their supporters. Armed groups who opposed the Seleka, including the Young Patriots, came to be known collectively as the anti-Balaka. Sectarian violence resulted in an estimated 500 deaths between December 5-7 and an estimated 200 deaths from December 20-26. While the violence was most pronounced in Bangui, it was also concentrated in Ouham prefecture, a region with ties to former president Bozize. Authorities under both Bozize and Djotodia failed to maintain effective control over the security forces. Security forces committed extensive human rights abuses.
The most serious human rights problems include arbitrary and unlawful killings, especially those perpetrated by the Seleka; enforced disappearances and torture, including rape; the use of child soldiers; seizure and destruction of property; and forced displacement.
Other human rights problems included harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, including the use of illegal detention facilities; arbitrary arrest and detention; prolonged pretrial detention; denial of fair public trial; arbitrary interference with privacy and the home; seizure and destruction of property without due process; and the use of excessive and indiscriminate force in internal conflict. There were restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement, and lack of protection for refugees. The government did not respect the right of citizens to change their government peacefully, and corruption was widespread. Domestic and international human rights groups were subjected to harassment and threats. Discrimination and violence were experienced by women; children; persons with disabilities; ethnic minorities; indigenous people; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons; persons with HIV/AIDS; Christians; and Muslims. Forced labor and child labor, including forced child labor, were also problems.
There were credible reports that the following armed groups perpetrated serious human rights abuses in the country during the year: the Seleka; the Young Patriots, who became known as the anti-Balaka; and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).