[JURIST] Members of the Seleka rebel coalition [WorldWideConflict profile], which ousted President Francois Bozize [BBC profile] of the Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in March, committed atrocities against civilians, including pillage, summary execution, rape and torture, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [press release] Friday. Daniel Bekele, Africa director at HRW, called on the Seleka Coalition to end the abuses against civilians and stop “settling scores” with Central African Armed Forces (FACA) and said the new government should display its commitment to the rule of law by prosecuting those who perpetrated attacks against civilians. Authorities in the new government deny the claims and told HRW that the abuses were carried out by former members of Bozize’s government who were falsely claiming to be Seleka members. In addition to calling on the CAR to restore law and order and prosecute those responsible, HRW urged the UN to investigate reports of abuses.
Last month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned [JURIST report] human rights abuses in CAR. In March 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. 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 [Reuters report] 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. In January UNICEF said that it had received “credible reports” of both pro-government and rebel groups in the country recruiting and including children in its conflict [JURIST report]. In June the CAR was included in a report [JURIST report] issued by Ban detailing the violations committed against children in conflict zones.