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HRW: Central African Republic rebel group killing large number of civilians

A coalition of rebel groups that has taken control in the Central African Republic has been deliberately killing a large number of unarmed civilians as well as destroying their homes and villages, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] stated in a report [text] released on Wednesday. The report describes human rights violations, such as pillage, rape and torture, that are being committed by the Seleka rebel coalition [WorldWideConflict profile], the group that ousted former president Francois Bozize in the Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. These violations, according to the report, have been occurring since March and have resulted in the total destruction of more than 1,000 homes and the deaths of civilians from hunger and injuries. The report also describes how a number of civilians have fled their homes in fear of further attacks by the rebel group and are now living in the bush. Africa director at HRW, Daniel Bekele, stated that the Seleka have failed to deliver their promise of a new beginning for the CAR, and further, that they have recruited children as young as 13 years old to assist in the destruction. In addition to calling on the CAR to restore law and order, HRW urged the UN to investigate reports of abuses and destruction and to hold accountable the rebel groups.

A number of international human rights groups have recently expressed concern regarding the ongoing situation in the CAR. Earlier this month the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) stated that it is increasingly worried [JURIST report] for the safety of civilians in the CAR. In August chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Fatou Bensouda, expressed her concern [JURIST report] over the deteriorating security situation in the CAR. Earlier that month a panel of UN human rights experts also expressed their concern [JURIST report] over the situation in the CAR. Also in August the UN Assistant Secetary-General for Human Rights held a press conference where he urged the international community [JURIST report] to remember the fragile state of the CAR. In May HRW initially reported that members of the Seleka rebel coalition have committed rights violations [JURIST report] in the CAR.

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