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UN rights experts concerned over situation in Central African Republic

Several UN human rights experts Monday decried the human rights situation [press release] in the Central African Republic (CAR) [CIA factbook], stating that abuses of power are common and urging authorities to take immediate action to end violations. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns [official website], called for a thorough, transparent and independent investigation of at least 46 cases of alleged arbitrary executions. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Mendez [official website], stated that at least 25 people reportedly died from torture or other degrading treatment, and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo [official website], commented that several cases of violence against women, in particular sexual abuse and rape, were reported in all localities Seleka combatants have passed through. Additionally, the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances [official website] received information on alleged cases of enforced disappearances and expressed concern at allegations that a number of civilians as well as officers and soldiers of the official army were abducted by armed Seleka groups.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic last Thursday held a press conference [JURIST report] in the CAR, where he urged the international community to remember the fragile state of the country. Stressing the importance of transnational justice, Simonovic stated that perpetrators of human rights violations should not remain unpunished. Last April UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned [JURIST report] human rights abuses in CAR. In March 2013, several rebel movements formed the Seleka, resumed hostilities against the government, and assumed power. In March Michel Djotodia declared in a radio address that the country's constitution was dissolved [JURIST report] and that he had become the nation's leader. Also in March UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the coup [JURIST report] by the Seleka rebels and advocated for a "swift restoration of constitutional order." The African Union also condemned the coup and suspended CAR from the Union in addition to imposing sanctions against the country. The CAR has also recently been criticized for its use of child soldiers. A transitional government, lead by Djotodia, was formed in June 2013.

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