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UN rights chief expresses concern about Central African Republic

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] Navi Pillay [official profile] on Thursday urged [statement] the international community to step up its human rights efforts in the Central African Republic (CAR) during opening remarks at a press conference during a visit to the country. Expressing the urgent need to restore law in order in the country, Pillay called the situation "dire." Pillay spoke of the challenges [press release] that the judicial system is facing, including lack of resources to pay staff, threats to prosecutors and deficiencies in physical structures to detain people apprehended. Moreover, the collapse of the economy has exacerbated efforts at restructuring the penal system. Pillay stated that she sent three different monitoring teams to CAR to document the human rights violations that have been taking place in an effort to assist the recently created Commission of Inquiry on CAR. Pillay was able to report that positive developments include: the Transitional Parliament's discussions on the right to life, the creation of a Reconciliation Commission and a Permanent Commission on Dialogue, and the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission. She closed her statement by expressing her deep concern at the slow response from the international community.

International concern continues to grow in the wake of reports of gross human rights violations in CAR since the Seleka rebel forces seized the nations capital last March. Earlier this month, the UN Security Council [official website] established an International Commission of Inquiry [UN News Centre report] on the CAR, tasked with examining reports of human rights violations, compiling information, and helping identify perpetrators. In February, Pillay prompted [JURIST report] CAR leaders to remember their legal obligations and stressed that they are personally accountable for human rights violations. Also that month, Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged the international community [JURIST report] to take immediate and effective action to halt the spread of sectarian violence and "ethnic cleansing" within the western part of the CAR. In January the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng warned [JURIST report] that urgent national and international action is necessary to stop the violence in CAR. Also in January the UN reported that more than 6,000 child soldiers may be involved [JURIST report] in the conflict in CAR. Earlier in January the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons urged [JURIST report] the international community to assist the approximately 1 million individuals who have been internally displaced by the ongoing violence in CAR.

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