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UN Official: Human Rights Abuses Keeps Central Africa on Brink of Conflict

A top U.N. official says unpunished human rights violations in Central Africa keep the area on the brink of another major conflict.

United Nations' Human Rights Chief Louise Arbour said in a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council Monday that the "prevailing culture of impunity" is the greatest threat to security in Africa's Great Lakes region.

Arbour described the scale of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo as reaching "pandemic proportions." She said much of Central Africa continues to be affected by discrimination, a lack of enjoyment of economic and social rights and large-scale violence.

Arbour called on African governments not to grant amnesty for grave human rights violations.

The human rights chief also said that she believes there is still potential for sustainable peace and development in the area.

Arbour commended efforts by the Rwanda government to cope with the large number of people who took part in the nation's 1994 genocide, particularly through the traditional-style Gacaca court system.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.