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Remembering Mandela | Crisis in Central African Republic

In today's Brief: The world mourns Mandela; fighting in Central African Republic; Paris summit on peace & security in Africa; South Sudan may crack down on independent groups; Kyrgyzstan using Russia as a model; and Greece not facing up to racist violence.

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  1. Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first post-Apartheid president and perhaps the most inspiring leader for equality and justice in living memory, has died aged 95. His death is a tremendous loss, not only for his  country, but for the world. Human Rights Watch has collected some of our own reflections here.
  2. There's been fresh fighting in Bossangoa in the Central African Republic this morning: HRW's Peter Bouckaert has been reporting from the ground. The capital, Bangui, has been rocked by deadly clashes between the Muslim ex-Seleka forces, who have ruled the country since March, and the  Christian anti-balaka (“anti-machete”) fighters. Yesterday, the UN Security Council authorized French and African troops to use force to protect civilians.
  3. Thursday's UN resolution was a crucial step towards stemming the violence, but this will only be a temporary fix and bolder steps are urgently needed.
  4. For the first time a Russian court has required an independent group to register under the “foreign agents” law adopted by Russia’s parliament in 2012.
  5. In Ecuador, President Correa gave the government the power to shut down human rights and other groups that interfere with his agenda. The decree now has its first casualty.
  6. The Environment Ministry ordered the closure of the Pachamama Foundation on the grounds that it had violated Presidential Decree 16.
  7. December 8 marks the 21st anniversary of the constitution in Uzbekistan and presents an opportunity for President Islam Karimov to show he’s serious about reform by freeing political prisoners. 
  8. From this morning: 
    France has positioned itself in the front line of conflicts across Africa in recent years - not only in Central Africa Republic, of course, but in Libya, Ivory Coast and Mali. As President François Hollande hosts a summit in Paris this week on “peace and security” in Africa, he faces an even more difficult challenge: how to ensure that justice is done, impartially and consistently for crimes committed in these and other conflicts. 
  9. Next week, South Sudan’s lawmakers will consider a bill on the registration and monitoring of nongovernmental organizations which could block the small but crucial flowering of civil society efforts to protect media freedom and advocate for justice and human rights.
  10. Kyrgyzstan seems to be moving in a similar direction: the Parliament in Bishkek is preparing to discuss a law that would have domestic nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign funding and engage in vaguely worded “political activities” to register as “foreign agents.” The move is similar to a law in Russia, which has brought lawsuits and persecution to independent groups.
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