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Arbitrary arrests in Central African Republic violate international law: Amnesty

[JURIST] The Central African Republic (CAR) [CIA backgrounder] has violated international law by arbitrarily detaining people, holding detainees for extended periods without charges and trials, and maintaining prisons in degrading conditions, according to a study [text] released Thursday by Amnesty International [advocacy website]. The study documents the cases of over 40 people [AI press release] who have been arrested in 2006 for their alleged connections with armed rebel groups. Once detained, the prisoners have been denied medical care and subjected to unsanitary conditions, making the prisons "among the worst ever witnessed by members of the Amnesty International delegation." Although pressure from human rights groups has led to the release of 34 detainees who were acquitted, more than 20 individuals remain in prison without charges.

According to Amnesty, general instability has pervaded the CAR since former President Ange Felix Patasse [Wikipedia profile] was overthrown by a coup. After coup leader Francois Bozize [BBC profile] won elections in 2005, Patasse was convicted in absentia for fraud and referred to the International Criminal Court [JURIST reports] for human rights violations committed by state troops in 2002. The CAR government has blamed the conflict on Sudan for trying to destabilize its government. Reuters has more.

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