There has been serious and violent civil unrest and sectarian conflict in CAR in recent years, including military coups that have forced out the president. Central African Republic requested full membership of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2002. According to 2010 estimates, about 80 percent of the population of CAR are Christians; about 51 percent Protestant and 29 percent Roman Catholic. Islam is practiced by 15 percent of the population. The remaining 5 percent are a mix of indigenous beliefs.

Note: Given the widespread sectarian conflict it should be noted that the security of everyone in CAR is currently severely threatened. The rating awarded here reflects the technical state of the law only, and to the extent that this is possible. The overall human rights situation is highly severe

Severe Discrimination
Systemic Discrimination
No Rating

Constitution and government

The constitution affirms its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter of Human Rights and explicitly states that it is committed to the prohibition of discrimination against women and children. The constitution also states that all human beings are equal before the law regardless of race, ethnicity, region, sex, religion, political affiliation and social position. The constitution does protect freedom of worship and freedom of assembly, and prohibits any form of religious fundamentalism and intolerance.

Family, community and society

Ongoing violence has led to significant turmoil within the government and among the populace, many members of the population arming themselves and forming groups for defence or revenge. Much of the country is lawless. French and African Union troops were sent in as peacekeepers in late 2013, with UN peacekeepers taking over in September 2014. The disputes fall along a religious dividing line, broadly setting Christians and Muslims against each other. Ethnic cleansing has been reported and fears of mass genocide have caused the UN to send increase the peacekeeping missions in CAR in order to try to restore some form of control to the country.

Background to the conflict

In December 2012 Seleka militia forces began an armed offensive in Central African Republic (CAR) this eventually resulted in a seizure of power by Seleka in March 2013, overthrowing President Francois Bozize. The Seleka remained in power until around December 2013 when French and African Union forces were sent in to disarm them. During their time in power the Seleka were responsible for massacres, rape, torture, executions and looting. The Seleka were a predominantly Muslim force, though not entirely so. Even as they withdrew at the end of 2013 and in 2014 they were responsible for numerous brutal attacks on Christian civilians, property and villages.

In response to the Seleka the anti-balaka are wholly Christian militias that have been actively seeking Muslim communities and carrying out brutal acts of violence as revenge for the Seleka. As a result of the anti-balaka’s aggression the Muslims left in the country are attempting to leave. Many have been killed while travelling, some are taking refuge in local churches and mosques and others are in refugee camps under necessary armed protection.

“The most lethal attack documented by Amnesty International took place on 18 January in Bossemptele, where at least 100 Muslims were killed. Among the dead were women and old men, including an imam in his mid-70s.”

The interim President, Catherine Samba-Panza, has struggled to maintain order and has been called on by militia groups to resign, but Samba-Panza made her position clear on state radio, saying: “I will not resign. I must lead this country until the end of my mission.”

Though there were many attempted political coups over the years it was the Seleka that eventually overthrew Bozize as a political act. What started as a political battle in 2012 has since turned increasingly sectarian on religious grounds to the point where Muslims are now considered to have been mostly ‘ethnically cleansed’ from the capital Bengui and a great deal of the rest of the country too.

Amnesty International have reported that some AU troops have committed unlawful killings among other human rights violations further exacerbating the problems in the country. The UN, in September 2014, sent large numbers of troops into CAR and control of the peacekeeping was passed over to the UN. Many of the French and AU troops still remain.