[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Tuesday expressed concern [press release] over reports of human rights violations in the Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Since the Seleka coalition forces [WorldWideConflict profile] launched their offensive in December, there have been numerous reports of human rights violations, including targeted killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, rape, disappearances, kidnappings and recruitment of children. Noting that the conflict has already caused 37,000 people to flee the country and has left tens of thousands more displaced, Pillay called on all parties to implement the Libreville Peace Agreements [text, PDF] signed in 2008.
Last month, Seleka leader Michel Djotodia declared in a radio address that the country’s constitution is dissolved [JURIST report] and that he is now the nation’s leader. Earlier that same month, 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.” The African Union [official website] also condemned the coup and suspended [Reuters report] the CAR from the Union and imposed sanctions against the country. The CAR has also recently been criticized for its controversial use of child soldiers. In January UNICEF [official website] said that it had received “credible reports” of both pro-government and rebel armed groups in the country recruiting and including children [JURIST report] in its conflict. In June, the CAR was included in a report issued by Ban detailing the violations committed against children [JURIST report] in conflict zones. The UN Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict [official website] in 2011 also expressed concern [JURIST report] about children’s rights violations, including rape and other sexual violence as well as recruitment in armed conflict.