The Central African Republic (CAR) is a constitutional republic of approximately 4.5 million that is governed by a strong executive branch; the legislative and judicial branches are weak. Former armed forces Chief of Staff General Francois Bozize seized power in a military coup in 2003 and was elected president in 2005 elections. National and international observers judged the elections to be generally free and fair despite some irregularities. Bozize's term as president was stipulated under the constitution to expire on June 11. However, on May 10, the National Assembly passed a constitutional amendment that extended the terms of the office of the president and the National Assembly until elections. Poor preparations and a lack of funding led the government to delay the constitutionally mandated presidential and legislative elections scheduled during the year; as of year's end, the elections were scheduled for early 2011. Fighting between nonstate armed entities, as well as between nonstate armed entities and government security forces, increased, and much of the northwestern, northeastern, and extreme southeastern regions remained outside of government control. The illegal trade in diamonds contributed to conflict and human rights abuses in some parts of the country. Banditry remained a serious threat to civilians throughout the northern provinces. There were instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of civilian control.
Principal human rights abuses included security forces continuing to commit extrajudicial executions in the North, torture, beatings, detention, and rape of suspects and prisoners; impunity, particularly among the armed forces ; harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention centers; arbitrary arrest and detention, prolonged pretrial detention, and denial of fair trial; occasional intimidation and restrictions on the press; restrictions on freedom of movement; official corruption; and restrictions on workers' rights. Mob violence resulted in deaths and injuries. Societal abuses included female genital mutilation (FGM), discrimination against women and Pygmies; trafficking in persons; forced labor; and child labor, including forced child labor. Freedom of movement remained limited in the North because of actions by state security forces, armed bandits, and other nonstate armed entities. Sporadic fighting between government forces and nonstate armed entities continued to displace persons internally and increase the number of refugees.
Nonstate armed entities, some of which were unidentified, continued to kill, beat, and rape civilians and loot and burn villages in the North. Nonstate armed entities kidnapped, beat, raped, and extorted money from local populations. There were reports of children as young as 12 years old serving as fighters in nonstate armed entities.