Amnesty International Report 1994 - Central African Republic

At least three people were shot dead by members of the security forces in circumstances suggesting that they may have been executed extrajudicially and others were reportedly beaten or ill-treated in custody. There were widespread strikes and demonstrations protesting against the postponement of elections originally scheduled for October 1992 and the non-payment of government employees' salaries and student grants. Persistent demands by government opponents for political change culminated in the electoral defeat of President André Kolingba when the first round of presidential elections was held in August. In the second round former prisoner of conscience Ange Patasse was elected President. The outgoing President declared a general amnesty shortly before leaving office in September. All prisoners were released, including former Head of State Jean-Bedel Bokassa (see Amnesty International Report 1989). At least three people were killed by the security forces in circumstances suggest-ing they may have been extrajudicially executed. In April, 17-year-old Ibrahim Zouibele-Guinguissa was reportedly shot at point-blank range by a gendarme as he gathered together goods he had been selling in a market in the capital, Bangui. The market was the scene of violent clashes between gendarmes and demonstrators which left at least one other person dead and more than 30 injured. In May Hermine Yakite, a pregnant woman on her way to hospital to give birth, was shot dead by a member of the Presidential Guard when she resisted attempts to commandeer her car. Soldiers of the Presidential Guard had staged a mutiny to demand payment of their salary arrears by surrounding the presidential palace and occupying the government-owned radio station in Bangui for several hours. In June another person was killed and two were injured when the security forces used sticks, leather whips and, reportedly, firearms to break up a banned march by women protesting against pay arrears, school closures and lack of health facilities. None of these incidents were known to have been investigated by the government of President Kolingba or the government of President Patasse which replaced it, nor was any action taken against the soldiers responsible. Also in June, at least 15 students were detained following a protest at the authorities' failure to pay their grants and were reported to have been severely beaten in custody. One woman student arrested with her three-month-old baby was reportedly forced to strip by male police. The students were held for four days, charged with destruction of state property and illegal imprisonment, but then released. They were not brought to trial. The authorities did not take any further action to investigate the death in custody of Dr Claude Conjugo in 1992 (see Amnesty International Report 1993). Amnesty International appealed to the Central African authorities to ensure that all members of the security forces acted in full accordance with international standards on the use of lethal force, to investigate whether extrajudicial executions had occurred and to bring to justice any soldiers or others responsible for human rights violations. The authorities did not respond.

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