Recently, the United Nations has come under scrutiny by international media and human rights groups after the leaking of two reports on sexual abuse by peacekeepers. Although peacekeepers who commit crimes should be prosecuted by their home countries, the crimes often go unreported or the home countries fail to act once the peacekeepers return. Now, there’s been yet another report of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. The UN promises to take action.
New child sex abuse claims target UN peacekeepers in Central African Republic
AFP, The Telegraph
June 24, 2015
Another UN peacekeeping contingent serving in the Central African Republic is suspected of sexually abusing street children in Bangui, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday.
It was the third case of alleged child sexual abuse involving peacekeepers in that country to have surfaced in recent months.
The UN mission in Bangui has notified the troop-contributing country of the new allegations and has opened an investigation, said Stephane Dujarric.
The country of origin was not identified, but a UN official said it was an African contingent.
“If the allegations are substantiated, this would constitute a grave violation of UN principles and of the code of conduct of peacekeepers,” said Mr Dujarric.
The “member-state will be requested to take swift and appropriate punitive action,” he added.
In the wake of the previous cases, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) force has asked Morocco to open a formal investigation following allegations that one of its soldiers raped a girl under the age of 16.
A UN report by rights investigators last year detailed testimony from children in the Central African Republic who said they were sexually abused byFrench troops and soldiers from Chad and Equatorial Guinea.
The sexual abuse allegedly took place from December 2013 to June 2014, a few months before the United Nations took over from the African Union (AU) mission with its MINUSCA force.
France announced last month that 14 soldiers were facing possible charges in the case that only came to light when The Guardian newspaper reported it in April.
In the most recent case, MINUSCA received allegations on June 19 that two girls under age 16 had been sexually abused in Bangui, a UN official said.
The girls, who have been offered medical assistance, told a local rights group that they received food and goods in exchange for sex and that the abuse started in 2014.
The troop-contributing country was notified on Monday of the allegations and given ten days to advise the UN on the measures that it intends to take in response to the serious claims.
Under UN rules, military personnel serving in peace operations face possible prosecution at home.
Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, on Monday appointed a three-member panel to review how the United Nations handled the child sexual abuse allegations in the Central African Republic.
Marie Deschamps, former Supreme Court justice of Canada, will lead the review that is expected to begin work next month, with a final report to be submitted within 10 weeks.
An internal UN report revealed allegations this month that UN blue helmets had bought sex with jewellery, mobile phones and televisions in some places where they were deployed.
The United Nations has 125,000 peacekeepers deployed in 16 missions worldwide.
The MINUSCA force was deployed in September, taking over from the AU force that had been sent to help restore order after the country exploded into violence following a coup.
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