News / Africa

No Justice in CAR, Says UN Human Rights Chief

FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
Nick Long
The Central African Republic is now a country where vicious killers operate with impunity, says the United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay.  Speaking Thursday in the C.A.R. capital of Bangui, she called on Central Africans to reflect on their values and on the international community to do much more to help restore law and order in the country.   

Pillay's remarks follow two days of discussions here with the head of state, the justice minister, and local human rights organizations, among others.

Describing the current situation as dire, she said the large-scale killings seen in December and January seem to have been halted by French and African peacekeepers, but people continue to be killed on a daily basis, particularly by the anti-balaka militia groups.

Hatred remains at a terrifying level, she said, as evidenced by the extraordinarily vicious nature of the killings.

Asked by a journalist what was the single worst incident she had heard about in the C.A.R., she said was "particularly appalled about decapitation, mutilation of body parts, eating of the flesh of human beings; the incident of the mayor of Mbaiki is another extremely shocking incident, where he was killed, decapitated and a woman held up the genital parts that had been cut off him."   

Pillay said children were among those who had been decapitated and her office knows of at least four cases where the killers ate the flesh of their victims.

Those committing these gruesome crimes have been allowed to go free, she noted.  

"People apprehended with blood on their machetes and severed body parts in their hands have been allowed to go free, because there is nowhere to detain them and no means to charge them with the crimes they have clearly committed," Pillay said.

Pillay said the country’s top leadership told her that there is, in effect, no state, no coherent national army, no police, and no justice system in the C.A.R., and hardly any means to detain criminals.

She noted that two weeks earlier, nine prisoners escaped from Bangui’s recently reopened central prison - allegedly with the collusion of some of those supposed to guard them.

And so far, she added, there is little in the way of serious planning to restore law and order.

The human rights chief acknowledged the international community cannot fill all the gaps but she called for more urgent action.  

"I am deeply concerned by the slow response of the international community," Pillay said. "The vital humanitarian aid effort is deplorably underfunded with only 20 percent of requirements met so far. Human rights NGOs do not even have the means of transport to travel to the countryside to find out what is going on."

Pillay reiterated the U.N. secretary-general’s call for a fully equipped force of 10,000 peacekeepers and 2,000 police for the C.A.R., and said that creating an effective justice system and other institutions for the country cannot be done on the cheap.

Alarm bells are still ringing, she said, adding that if the international community gets it wrong in this country, there is a risk of decades of instability, and the creation of a new and fertile breeding ground for religious extremism -- not just in the C.A.R. but in the wider region.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Arie from: NYC
March 21, 2014 2:13 PM
@Skai - It might be because you are not listening attentively. But besides that, it seems quite inappropriate if not repulsive, to capitalize on the unspeakable suffering in CAR to plead your case. I am at least to a certain extend aware of the situation in the countries you are referring to, but, with all due respect, that is only child play compared to the situation in CAR.

by: skai from: UK
March 20, 2014 6:44 PM
U N High commissioner for Human Right, Navi Pillay , How come we don't hear any thing from you about the Human Right abuses against Christians , Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
How come there is no aid to Hindus and Sikhs who are driven out of their homes in Kashmir, who are living poorly in New Delhi, no peep from you.

by: Ntokozo
March 20, 2014 2:30 PM
Please give us your assessment on Zimbabwe.?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs