Democracy and rights
After several years of civil war, democratic
elections were held in the Central African Republic in
2016/2017, which despite many deficiencies was approved
by international observers. The civilian population has
been severely affected by the conflict and few have been
punished for the many abuses committed both during and
after the civil war. A number of peace agreements have
been signed between the government and various rebel
groups, but there is a long way to go for a lasting
peace and a functioning rule of law. Corruption is a
The presidential and parliamentary elections were
held in 2016 after the outside world pressed them to get
rid of them (see Current policy). The turnout was
relatively low, and the lack of security meant that many
residents could not register to vote. Nor did the many
Central Africans who moved the country had the
opportunity to take part in the elections.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Central African Republic, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Citizens generally have limited opportunities to get
in touch with their political representatives. There are
also major shortcomings in how the elections are
organized and the election authority's staff often lack
adequate training. The situation is made more difficult
by the state having so little control over large parts
of the country.
Formally, citizens can freely form political parties,
but party activists risk being exposed to threats and
harassment in areas controlled by the various armed
groups. Security is highly dependent on the
international troops in the country, including the UN
force Minusca. In recent years, Russia has sent military
advisers (see Current Policy).
Formally, the Central African Republic is a secular
state, but religious and sectarian forces reinforce the
strong tensions that arose in the wake of the war.
Women are discriminated against in terms of
inheritance law and they are underrepresented in public
life. Only eleven of the 140 members of the National
Assembly are women (see also Social conditions). Various
minority groups, not least LGBT people, are also
underrepresented in politics.
Even though the worst fights are over, there are
still many threats to human security. Criminal violence
has replaced the regular civil war. The militias often
act as bandit gangs. They rob, kill and rape beyond the
view of the weak police and international peacekeepers.
Rape is common even in peacetime.
Corruption and sly politics are common in public
According to the organization Transparency
International index list of perceived corruption in the
countries of the world, in 2019, the Central African
Republic ended up in 153 of 180 countries, four
positions worse than the year before.
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are
guaranteed in the constitution but are not fully
respected by the state power. Journalists can be
prosecuted for various crimes, such as rioting and
disobedience to security forces. Self-censorship is
There are many indications that in recent years the
authorities and holders of power have become
increasingly sensitive to criticism.
In 2005, the law was amended so that journalists
could no longer be prosecuted, but nevertheless, in the
spring of 2015, charges were brought against three
journalists for insulting the then President Catherine
However, the most serious limitation of press freedom
is not state laws and regulations. The arbitrary
violence from both security forces and militia threatens
journalists' opportunities to work. Newspaper offices
were looted and radio stations destroyed.
Another obstacle to independent journalism is that
journalists have low wages and are therefore easy to
In 2014, a French freelance journalist was killed
when she followed the Christian anti-Balaka militia in
the Bouar region in the western part of the country to
document the violence that was going on there. In the
summer of 2018, three Russian journalists were murdered
in the country. They were there to investigate whether
the private Russian security company Wagner PMC, which
has relations with the Russian government, has
mercenaries in the Central African Republic.
In June 2019, two French journalists who worked for
the AFP news agency were arrested and beaten by police
and seized their equipment when they watched a protest
organized by a banned opposition organization. They were
released after the Central African Justice Minister
intervened. He also defended the police's actions.
In 2019, the Central African Republic ranked 145 out
of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders
ranking list of freedom of the press in the countries of
the world. The country has slipped further and further
down the list since 2013, when it was found at position
For the majority of residents, radio is the most
important medium. The country's only broadcaster is
state and usually supports the sitting government.
Printed media have little spread. They are printed
and read almost exclusively in the capital Bangui, due
to the widespread illiteracy. Also, there is no
functioning postal system that can distribute newspapers
outside the capital.
Judicial system and legal security
According to the Constitution of 2016, the judiciary
should be independent of the authorities, but in
practice the government interferes in its work. The
courts work poorly, partly because there is no qualified
staff. Corruption is widespread within the legal system
as it is common for employees not to receive their
Arbitrary arrests and lengthy detention pending trial
pose major problems.
The death penalty is found in the legislation, but is
rarely sentenced. In 2002, ex-President André Kolingba
was sentenced to death in his absence for a coup attempt
According to the UN, the conflict had claimed about
5,000 casualties from the end of 2012 through the summer
of 2015. One million people had been forced to flee and
many homes had been burned down. Sexual violence was
also widespread. Soldiers from the foreign peace forces
are also accused of committing sexual abuse of children.
A new special court to deal with cases involving the
many abuses committed in the country since 2003 has been
established and started its work in the fall of 2018
(see Calendar). countries. Prosecutors should always
come from abroad. The Special Court shall cooperate with
the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In September 2014, the ICC announced that it would
formally begin to investigate allegations of war crimes
in the Central African Republic. ICC chief prosecutor
Fatou Bensouda said both sides of the conflict were
guilty of serious crimes such as murder, rape, forced
displacement and recruitment of child soldiers. In 2018,
Patrice-Edouard Ngaďssona and Alfred Yekatom, both of
whom had a leading role in the anti-Balaka militia, were
arrested and handed over to the ICC (see Calendar).
The ICC is already pursuing a target that includes
suspected war crimes in the Central African Republic. In
2009, Congolese opposition leader and former rebel
leader Jean-Pierre Bemba was indicted for war crimes and
crimes against humanity. Among other things, Bemba was
accused of abuses committed by his forces and government
soldiers in the Central African Republic in 2002, when
they helped the then president defeat a coup attempt.
Bemba was convicted in 2016 of murders and rapes
committed by his rebels in the neighboring country to 18
years in prison. He was found guilty of five counts of
war crimes and crimes against humanity. The prosecutor
had been in prison for 25 years. Bemba, who was
Vice-President of Congo-Kinshasa 2003-2006, thus became
the person of the highest rank judged by ICC. He was
also the first to be convicted of sexual violence in
wartime. Bemba appealed against the verdict and was
released by the ICC Appellate Unit in June 2018 (see
According to UN estimates at the beginning of 2014,
there were between 6,000 and 8,000 children in the
various armed groups who were forced to commit abuse. In
2015, the government and the armed groups in the country
agreed that child soldiers should be released. But how
many who have really ended up as soldiers are uncertain.
In 2017, the Central African Republic signed a UN
convention banning child soldiers from being used. At
the same time, reports came that the various armed
groups continued to recruit children.
New rebellion in the north
The UDFR occupies several cities in the northeastern part of the country.
With the help of French fighter aircraft, the government regains control. At the
same time, the People's Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy
(APRD) has started an uprising in the northwest. APRD was created by people who
were loyal to Patassé, which Bozizé deposited in 2003.
Ex-President Patassé is being convicted of fraud
Former President Ange-Felix Patassé is sentenced in his absence to 20 years
of criminal work for fraud.