​‘Horribly possible’: More child-rape cases by peacekeepers could emerge – UN

Reuters/Luc Gnago

Reuters/Luc Gnago

Following shocking revelations of child sexual abuse by French peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic, the UN has warned that it is “horribly possible” that information about more such cases may emerge.

As the investigation
continues into the alleged French crimes and troop misconduct, UN
human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville admitted that “it is
possible, it’s horribly possible,”
that further inquiries
will reveal more unreported instances.

The French investigation followed numerous reports of sexual
exploitation and abuse of children by the French military before
the establishment of MINUSCA – the United Nations peacekeeping
operation in Central African Republic. The period under
investigation is December 2013 through June 2014. Colville called
the allegations “abhorrent” and “utterly

READ MORE: ‘Rape and sodomy’: Leaked UN report
details French soldiers’ abuse against African boys

Earlier this week, the Guardian published a leaked UN report
exposing a rape case at a center for internally displaced people
at M’Poko Airport in CAR’s capital Bangui. It alleges, based on
witnesses testimony that French peacekeeping forces instead of
protecting children, sodomized starving and homeless boys, some
as young as nine. The UN spokesman on Friday admitted that
“only the French can do this investigation … fully.”

In the meantime Paula Donovan, from the AIDS-Free World said
children interviewed also accused soldiers from Chad and
Equatorial Guinea of molesting kids. She also accused the UN of
trying to cover up the scandal.

“You can say it was a UN cover-up,” Paula Donovan,
co-director of the AIDS-Free World, told IBT.

“The UN’s disturbingly self-defensive instincts are all about
how can we protect the bureaucracy, not how can we protect and
treat the victims and prevent any instance of future abuse in
these particular locations or in any other locations around the

She pointed out that UNICEF and the Commission for Human Rights,
after interviewing the first victims, did nothing to apprehend
those responsible, despite knowing certain physical traits of the

“There’s no indication of
an intervention on the part of the interviewers to ensure that
the authorities apprehended the perpetrators described by the
very first victims they interviewed, and no indication that the
children were referred immediately to professionals who could
offer them treatment,”
said Donovan.

In regards to soldiers from Chad and Equatorial Guinea, the UN
said on Friday that it didn’t know whether the accusations
against these nations are being pursued. The world organization
did express hope that the French probe might cover it.

“This is incredibly important, not just as a matter of
accountability, but also as deterrence,”
the UN human rights
office said Friday. “There have been far too many incidents
of peacekeeping troops engaged in such acts, whether within UN
peacekeeping forces, or – as in this case – forces that are
operating independently.”

As for a possible UN cover-up, on Thursday, the United Nations
announced an internal investigation into the handling of the CAR
incident, including the manner in which the “confidential
preliminary findings were initially communicated to external
actors, and whether the names of victims, witnesses and
investigators were conveyed as part of that document.”

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