Central African Republic
The Central African Republic is a constitutional republic governed by an executive branch with weak legislative and judicial branches. Former Central African Armed Forces (FACA) Chief of Staff General Francois Bozize seized power in a military coup in 2003. He was later elected president in 2005, in an election judged generally free and fair by national and international observers, despite some irregularities. The government's human rights record remains poor. Reports of extrajudicial killings by the Central Office for the Repression of Banditry decreased in 2007, but reports of the military killing civilians increased sharply due to government counteroffensive operations against rebels in the north. Security forces continued to torture, beat, and rape suspects and prisoners. Impunity, particularly military impunity, worsened. Despite some improvements, conditions in prisons and detention centers remained harsh and life-threatening. The government's increased use of arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly in connection with fighting against rebels in the north, contributed to an increase in the number of detainees. Prolonged pretrial detention, denial of a fair trial, and judicial corruption continued to be problems. Freedom of movement deteriorated greatly because of actions by security forces, armed bandits, and rebels. Government corruption and lack of access to government‑held information remained serious problems. Societal violence and trafficking in persons remained problems.
In 2007 the U.S. mission expanded to include an ambassador and three U.S. officers. Given the continued rebel violence in 2007, including two cross-border rebellions and the country's problems with corruption, the United States strongly supports the current government's limited efforts to restore peace and reorganize its security forces. The U.S. government's bilateral goals are to promote peace and democratic governance, as well as economic growth. At present, the highest priority resources for achieving that goal are U.S.-funded military education and training programs.
The U.S. government dedicated substantial resources to fulfill the mission's goals, including a capacity building seminar with military personnel in 2007 with FACA leadership, members, and civil society. The embassy facilitated training in the United States for FACA personnel in infantry skills, military resources management, English instruction, as well as participation in a seminar for the new generation of African military leaders. The U.S. government developed a partnership with the Ministry of Mines to facilitate the implementation of the Kimberley Process through a two-year property rights promotion project in the southwest of the country. U.S. officials hold numerous meetings with the country's officials on various issues related to human rights protection, press freedom, trafficking in persons, and religious freedom.
To minimize corruption and promote civic education and responsibility, the embassy undertook public diplomacy activities featuring a series of events at the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center and sponsored the visit of a U.S. speaker to Bangui during Black History Month. The embassy monitors and reports on the use of all U.S. humanitarian aid to refugees and displaced persons, as well as multilateral assistance through UN agencies.
The United States provided the newly established Central African Private Press Center with books and materials in 2007, encouraging the press to continue responsible, wide-ranging journalism. Actions aimed at protecting and reinforcing freedom of the press included visits to an editor of a private newspaper group convicted of disobedience to the government's authority.
To promote human rights, U.S. officials hosted a roundtable discussion with government officials and human rights advocates on how better to improve the human rights situation in the country. U.S. officials also met with strategic partners and missions to coordinate effective human rights documentation and reporting as well as support for civilian protection initiatives.