"Appalling crimes" committed in Central African Republic

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Children wait for water at a school where they have taken shelter from the increasingly brutal sectarian violence in the Central African Republic. Photo: IRIN/Hannah McNeish

People holding positions of authority in the Central African Republic are being reminded that they will be held personally accountable for atrocities that are being committed in the country.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said the authorities have a legal obligation to stop the acts of violence which may amount to crimes against humanity.

She added that although a few groups of former Muslim rebels known as Séléka continue to target Christian civilians in the capital Bangui, most of the ongoing human rights violations are being committed by anti-Balaka Christian militias.

Spokesperson Cécile Pouilly says although the situation in Bangui is much calmer at the moment, there are reports of more killings and more violence.

"The High Commissioner really clearly says that the level of cruelty and disregard for life and dignity is completely appalling. And we have got information of public mutilation of bodies, amputations, beheadings and at least one case of cannibalism.  All of these very violent actions are spreading further terror among the Muslim populations, discouraging them from returning and forcing them to flee." (23")

Cécile Pouilly said after their retreat from the Southern and Western parts of the Central African Republic, ex-Séléka forces are now regrouping in their traditional stronghold in the north of the country.

These forces, she added, are now renewing a cycle of violence with what she called "scorched earth tactics" of destroying houses in villages, burning tools and seeds and killing many civilians on their way.

Derrick Mbatha, United Nations

Duration: 1’43″


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