Pity the Man Who Is Alone: Corruption in the Criminal Justice System in Bangui, Central African Republic

By Ladislas de Coster, Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church, Kiely Barnard-Webster; with the support of Kessy Martine Ekomo-Soignet, Peter Woodrow, and Arsène Sende

Originally published by CDA Collaborative Learning Projects

Criminal justice sector (CJS) reform programming in the Central African Republic (CAR) ignores the role corruption plays in distorting justice. Without addressing the abuse of power for personal gain by actors within the system, the international community’s reform goals are not obtainable. Worse, some aspects of these programs appear to be fueling, rather than abetting, the system of corruption.

The Corruption, Legitimacy and Justice Program conducted one hundred fifteen key informant interviews with criminal justice actors, citizens and the international community in Bangui in July 2017. Using a new methodology derived from systems analysis, this project seeks to contribute to more effective anti-corruption programming.

Our key findings included:

• Extortion/bribery, sexual favors, favoritism and political interference distort every aspect of the criminal justice system, making justice unobtainable for average citizens. Corruption in the CJS is a system driven by a multiplicity of factors such as survival and corrupt leadership; along with social norms that make corruption a rational choice.

• The Séléka/anti-Balaka conflict has amplified the corruption dynamic as criminal justice actors seek revenge and the recovery of lost assets in a context of eroding values. The same state discrimination against Muslim citizens that fed the crisis plays out in the system of corruption, exacerbating tensions.

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