[JURIST] Central African Republic (CAR) [CIA backgrounder; BBC backgrounder] government forces are responsible for hundreds of unlawful killings [press release] and the burning of thousands of civilian homes since mid-2005 in their counterinsurgency campaign, according to a new report [text] from Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. The report, released Friday, alleges that since the beginning of the conflict, CAR security forces have been responsible for human rights abuses and breaches of law, including multiple summary executions and unlawful killings, widespread burning of civilian homes, and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians. An elite unit of the Presidential Guard, based in the town of Bossangoa, was said to be responsible for many of the killings and village burnings. HRW also reported that rebel forces have committed serious abuses but not to the extent of those committed by government forces. HRW noted that not a single soldier or officer has been held accountable for any of the atrocities committed and called on CAR authorities to take immediate steps to "end impunity and put in place effective civilian protection mechanisms in the north." The advocacy group urged the United Nations and the European Union to send in a civilian protection force and ensure that the force has the mandate and the capacity to provide effective protection to civilians in CAR.
CAR [JURIST news archive] has suffered decades of coups and rebellions since gaining independence from France in 1960. In June 2007, Amnesty International [advocacy website] also reported that humanitarian abuses have become commonplace [JURIST report] as the armed conflict between the government and opposition forces escalates. The International Criminal Court [official website] opened a probe in May 2007 into allegations of rape and other violence [JURIST report] committed in the CAR. The probe [press release; ICC backgrounder, PDF] will focus on events that occurred between 2002 and 2003 during a violent conflict between rebel forces and the government, but will also keep watch on current events in the country. AP has more.