The Central African Republic is a republic with a transitional government of national unity. The president and prime minister share executive power. The last general elections occurred in 2011. Citizens re-elected President Francois Bozize and elected a unicameral legislature to a five-year term in what national and international observers considered flawed elections. Authorities at times did not maintain effective control over the security forces.
In March 2013 the Seleka rebel alliance led by Michel Djotodia deposed President Bozize. In April 2013 the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) adopted the Ndjamena Declaration, which provided for the establishment of a transitional government leading to elections 18 months after the swearing-in of the transitional president. Djotodia was sworn in as transitional president in August 2013 under the terms of a transitional charter. State rule, already weak under Bozize, largely collapsed under Djotodia. Ex-Seleka fighters continued to engage in conflict with armed militia groups throughout the country, including groups known as the anti-Balaka. (Note: This report refers to the “ex-Seleka” for all abuses attributed to the Seleka that occurred after the Seleka was dissolved in September 2013). The violence claimed thousands of lives, including many civilians, and forced more than one million individuals to seek refuge in camps for internally displaced persons or flee to neighboring countries. On January 10, Djotodia resigned under pressure from the ECCAS. On January 23, the Transitional National Council (CNT) elected Catherine Samba-Panza as transitional president until elections scheduled for 2015.
The most serious human rights problems included arbitrary and unlawful killings, especially those perpetrated by the ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka; enforced disappearances and torture, including rape; and the use of child soldiers. Due to the 2013 unconstitutional removal of President Bozize from office and the appointment of a transitional government, citizens did not have the ability to change the government through free and fair elections.
Other human rights problems included harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, including the use of illegal detention facilities; arbitrary arrest and detention; the complete break-down of the judicial system, resulting in prolonged pretrial detention and 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. Corruption was widespread. Domestic and international human rights groups faced 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.
The government did not take steps to investigate and prosecute officials who committed violations, creating a climate of impunity.
There were credible reports the following armed groups perpetrated serious human rights abuses in the country during the year: ex-Seleka, anti-Balaka, and Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). On September 24, the International Criminal Court opened a formal investigation into crimes committed in the country since August 2012 that fall under the court’s jurisdiction. Certain units of the African Union’s International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) also reportedly committed human rights abuse during the year, and MISCA investigations into those allegations continued at year’s end.