ASF in the Central African Republic

Location: Bangui and Berberati Date of establishment: 2015 Team: 8 collaborators Contact: bur-apcpi@asf.be - Telephone +236 72 74 05 72

Context

The many political and military crises that have affected the Central African Republic (CAR) have for decades been undermining the establishment of the rule of law. Justice, perceived as arbitrary and not independent by a majority of the population, is faced with enormous challenges.

Legal personnel, mainly located in the capital Bangui, are too few to provide their services to the country’s 3 courts of appeal and 24 tribunals. Of the hundred or so lawyers officially registered, only one is located outside of the capital. Furthermore, the training of justice actors falls short in terms of quality.

The country’s needs in the justice sector are considerable, both in terms of supply and demand for justice:

  • For citizens seeking justice: lack of knowledge of rights and procedures, geographical remoteness, insufficient funds, lack of understanding of the role of justice actors, lack of trust and reluctance (religious, cultural, social) to seek formal justice, etc.
  • For legal personnel offering their services: lack of political will, problem of articulation between the formal and informal justice system, insufficient resources (human, financial, material), lack of training/supervision of institutional actors, insufficient geographical coverage, non-conformity, non-existence and inadequacy of the normative framework, corruption and other forms of abuse and lack of synergy between actors.

ASF’s intervention strategy

ASF highlights a holistic approach to access to justice in CAR, whilst supporting community justice actors (neighbourhood chiefs, customary and religious leaders) and strengthening the capacity building of key legal aid actors (bar associations and civil society organisations).

Projects

Support to the Special Advocacy Corps (SAC) of the Special Criminal Court (SCC)

Funding: United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission
Duration: 28 months (February 2021 > June 2023)

Promote procedural guarantees and access to justice for Central African women by addressing gender inequalities

Funding: European Union
Duration: 18 months (August 2022 > February 2024)

Publications

July 19, 2022

Annual report 2021

June 8, 2022

(French) Deprivation of liberty practices in the Central African Republic: a reflection of crisis justice and justice in crisis

June 30, 2021

Annual report 2020

June 29, 2020

Annual report 2019

News

November 14, 2022

The penalisation of charlatanism and witchcraft practices: An obstacle to the realisation of the rights of women and minors in the Central African Republic

In the Central African Republic (CAR), the practice of charlatanism and witchcraft is considered a crime under the penal code. The prosecution of suspected "sorcery" practitioners frequently leads to serious human rights violations and systematically impacts women and children. At the Bimbo women's prison, half of the women in prison are condemned for alleged witchcraft offences. The repression suffered by those accused of witchraft can originate in formal justice but also in popular vindictiveness. People suspected of witchcraft are regularly subjected to humiliation and corporal punishment, sometimes resulting in death.

March 8, 2022

International Women's day: Gender and witchcraft in the Central African Republic, fighting discrimination against women and children

In the Central African Republic, the prosecution of people suspected of witchcraft and charlatanism, which frequently leads to serious human rights violations, systematically impacts women and children. This must be examined from a gender-based violence perspective.

July 29, 2019

Keys for access to justice in the Central African Republic

Access to justice is a serious problem in the Central African Republic. That is the key finding in a study Avocats sans Frontières has just published. Analysis of the situation on the ground has revealed difficulties in access to lawyers and to a state justice system of adequate quality. Those are the reasons why citizens avoid the formal state system, and instead, turn to local chiefs, religious leaders, non governmental organisations and others. ASF recommends that development agencies draft and implement robust strategies to achieve sustainable improvements. And for them to be successful, these strategies must include all the actors involved, both formal and informal.