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Africa

Mukosa: 'Act now to save CAR'

Christian Mukosa of Amnesty International says the international community should act now to stop human rights violations in the Central African Republic. He hails France's plan to send more troops to CAR.

Late last month (October 2013) the rights group Amnesty International warned that the human rights crisis in the Central African Republic was spiraling out of control. It has also published satellite images showing the aftermath of abuses, including hundreds of homes that had been burnt to the ground.

DW: How would you describe the state of the Central African Republic?

Christian Mukosa: The situation is very grave in Central African Republic. There are serious human rights violations including mass killings, rape and other types of violence against women and children, such as recruitment of child soldiers. The situation is deteriorating on a daily basis. The international community, including France, the United Nations and the African Union, must act as quickly as possible before it is too late.

Who are the perpetrators of these rights violations?

The perpetuators are ex-Selekas, those are troops who put the current president Michel Djotodia in power at the beginning of this year. Perpetrators are also armed groups including the "anti-balaka" who are also killing, burning villages and raping women. So the situation is catastrophic because it is not only Seleka and ex-Seleka who are committing all those serious human rights violations but also the armed groups who are combating Seleka. They are also doing the same and all of this with total impunity.

Why and how has the international community allowed this crisis to get out of control?

The problem, as we know, is that everything is very slow when it comes to the international community ntervening in such a complex situation. This is why we, Amnesty International, are calling for the UN and other members of the international community to act now and not wait until it is too late. The call is not only for the UN but also other countries who have sufficient forces and who can help tackle this very complicated situation.

France has circulated a draft Security Council resolution on strengthening the African force in the CAR as the first step towards turning it into a formal UN peacekeeping mission. Is this the right way forward?

I think anyone who could help to tackle this situation, any assistance should be welcomed. As you know, France is present in CAR for years now. They know the terrain. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has put three options on the table. One of those three is a UN peacekeeping mission. But a UN peacekeeping mission always takes time until it is deployed on the ground, and according to the UN Secretary General this could take up to six months or even more. But we need a mechanism which can act now, to not only put an end to all those human rights violations which are committed now, but to also prevent further human rights violation. So if France is willing to do this, then I think this is a very good idea.

Christian Mukosa is a researcher with Amnesty International's Africa program in London.

Interview: Mark Caldwell

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