Central African Republic - Corruption

Although the law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. The World Bank’s 2015 Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected corruption was a severe problem.

The constitution requires senior members of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the beginning of their terms to declare publicly their personal assets and income for scrutiny by the constitutional court. The constitution specifies that the law determines sanctions for noncompliance. Declarations are public. The constitution requires ministers to declare their assets upon departing government but is not explicit on what constitutes assets or income.

The constitution stipulates that every citizen has the right to access government information, which is published in the Official Gazette, the newspaper that publishes official decrees and laws. The provision was effectively implemented: The Official Gazette is published at least monthly, and print copies are available for purchase.

Due to poor economic conditions and corruption among the police forces, the crime rate in the C.A.R. is high. Authorities are not generally responsive to the security needs of either Central Africans or foreigners. There have been incidences of armed gangs attacking and robbing officials and expatriates, occasionally at their homes.

Petty crime is extremely common in the C.A.R., and it occurs at any time of day or night. Victims are targeted if they appear to be wealthy or vulnerable; foreigners are prime candidates. The situation is particularly prevalent in downtown Bangui. There are instances of overt thievery both from persons and stopped vehicles. It is wisest to travel in vehicles with the windows closed; godobes steal watches from arms hanging out of windows. Those who must travel on foot should not carry a bag or wear watches, eyeglasses, or jewelry.

Street crime occurs in downtown Bangui. Armed gangs operate in outlying residential areas, although police efforts have somewhat reduced this problem. Armed highway robbery in rural areas is common, especially in the dry season from December until May. When a crime does occur, the victim may have to pay to send a vehicle to pick up police officers due to a shortage of police vehicles.

Some young thieves, or godobes, steal eyeglasses directly from the wearer's face. In the event that eyeglasses are stolen, the victim should go to the central market and ask the vendors for information. Often vendors will "find" and return glasses in exchange for a reward. High-risk times include the afternoon siesta period from 1200 to 1500 and Sundays because the streets are less crowded.

There have been reports of police, security forces, and other officials harassing travelers who do not pay bribes at checkpoints along major intercity roads and at major intersections in Bangui. Armed banditry increased after the 1996 mutinies. Due to the rise of armed attacks on motorists in the central and northern regions, overland travel in these areas, without a military escort, should be avoided. Attacks by bandits sometimes occur even though travelers move in convoys with military escorts.

The bandits, or zaranguinas, target travelers and traders; they stop vehicles and rob all passengers, even to the point of stealing their shoes. Those vehicles that do not stop may be fired on. The zaranguinas have wounded and killed both Central Africans and foreigners.

Rain barriers provide another means of extracting bribes from travelers. These barriers are designed to protect the dirt roads from vehicle damage following heavy rains. Vehicles are expected to wait at the barriers for 2 hours following the end of a rain. Attendants may refuse to open the barriers to those who will not pay or act impatient. Those who wait patiently and make small talk will probably be allowed to pass.

 

 

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