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UN rights expert warns of escalating violence in Central African Republic

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] warned [press release] Friday that continued violence between militias, rebels and government forces in the Central Africa Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] threatens to lead the country into renewed conflict. The high commissioner expressed her apprehension caused by recent violent clashes stating that, "[t]he latest clashes between ex-Seleka forces and various self-defense groups, are extremely worrying. Such violent incidents have heightened tensions among communities, caused splits along religious and sectarian lines and could lead to further destabilization in the country." Pillay also expressed concern over reports received by the UN Human Rights Office [official website] detailing alleged illegal arrests and torture in secret detention centers in the CAR capital, Bangui, conducted by the current government, which is controled by ex-Seleka rebels. According to the press release, several hundred civilians, including two members of the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) [advocacy website] were killed in the first two weeks of September. The UN rights expert also expressed outrage over reports of the massacre of woman and children in late October, allegedly done by ex-Seleka rebels.

There have been continued reports of gross human rights violations in the CAR since the Seleka rebel alliance [WorldWideConflicts backgrounder] seized the nation's capital in March. In October a group of independent UN human rights experts expressed concern [JURIST report] over the situation in the CAR and urged the transitional authorities to take urgent measures to protect the population from atrocity crimes and restore public order. In September the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) urged [JURIST report] the transitional government to do "its utmost to ensure the protection of IDPs and to facilitate the humanitarian response." Michel Djotodia declared himself the nation's leader in March after the Seleka seized the nation's capital and caused president Francois Bozize [World Biography profile] to flee the country. Also in March UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] condemned [JURIST report] the coup by the Seleka rebels and advocated for the "swift restoration of constitutional order.

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