state of civil and political rights: Partly free
constitution: effective 27 December 2004
legal system: based on French law
legislative system: unicameral National Assembly (Assemblee Nationale)
judicial system: Supreme Court, judges appointed by the president; Constitutional Court, judges appointed by the president; Court of Appeal; Criminal Courts; Inferior Courts
religion: indigenous beliefs 35%, Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%, Muslim 15%
year of last executions: 0-1-1981
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
Capital crimes include: aggravated murder, treason, spying, charlatanism and witchcraft, assassination and military offences.
A Central African Republic (CAR) delegation told the UN Human Rights Committee in July 2004 that no minor had ever been sentenced to death. The last execution took place in 1981, though judges continue to pass death sentences. CAR’s transitional government was not planning to abolish the death penalty, the delegation said.
CAR has been led by General Francois Bozize since March 2003, when he toppled Ange-Felix Patasse in a military coup. Presidential elections in May 2005 returned Bozize to power as president, with more than 64% of the vote in the second electoral round. Bozize had promised "transparent elections" on taking power. His transitional government had intensified efforts to restore and reinforce security countrywide by launching a project of demobilisation and reinsertion of former-combatants and support to communities.
On December 5, 2004 CAR voters overwhelmingly approved a draft constitution that reduces the powers of the president and gives more authority to the prime minister and national assembly.
Under Article 1 of the Constitution, the human person is sacred and inviolable; state authorities have an absolute obligation to respect and protect it. Article 3 provides for a right to life that cannot be infringed upon without due process of law, implying that a limited application of capital punishment could be constitutional.
Under Article 22 of the Constitution, it is the President’s prerogative to grant pardons and commute sentences. Neither a pardon nor a commutation may be granted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. On 24 April 2003, President Bozizé pardoned 25 people sentenced to death in absentia after the coup of May 2001. On 13 October 2008, the President promulgated a general amnesty law for all felonies perpetrated since 2005, although international crimes were excluded.
The last execution took place in January 1981, when six high ranking government officials were executed by firing squad.
In June 2015, the transitional government promulgated a law passed in April to establish a Special Criminal Court inside the national judicial system, consisting of national and international staff, to investigate and prosecute the gravest crimes committed in the country since 2003, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. The maximum sentence of life imprisonment under the law would help bring about international support for the Special Criminal Court and be a logical step for the Central African Republic away from the death penalty.
During the 2009 Universal Periodic Review of the Central African Republic by the UN Human Rights Council, the Central African delegation stated that the question of abolition was under discussion; he reaffirmed however that the majority still favored the death penalty because of high crime rates. The Council recommended that the CAR ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Aimed at the Abolition of the Death Penalty and abolish the death penalty.
On December 19, 2016, Central African Republic voted in favour of the Resolution, as in 2014 and 2012, meanwhile it abstained in 2008 and in 2010.