UN peace­keep­ers sex­u­ally abused mi­nors as young as 11: of­fi­cial

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The U.N. mis­sion in the Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic has been hit by 13 cases of al­leged sex­ual abuse by its peace­keep­ers, in­clud­ing nine that in­volve un­der­age vic­tims as young as 11, an of­fi­cial said Thurs­day.

“The sharp rise in cases re­ported in the last three months is of con­cern,” said Diane Cor­ner, the deputy chief at the coun­try’s MINUSCA mis­sion.

Cor­ner told re­porters via video con­fer­ence from the cap­i­tal Ban­gui that the al­leged vic­tims in the nine cases in­volv­ing mi­nors are of “a range of ages. The youngest is 11.”

The 12,000-strong MINUSCA force, which took over from an African Union mis­sion nearly a year ago, has been plagued by a se­ries of al­le­ga­tions of rape and other mis­con­duct by its troops.

That led U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon last week to fire the mis­sion chief, Babacar Gaye of Sene­gal, declar­ing “enough is enough.”

Three new cases of rape al­legedly com­mit­ted by a MINUSCA con­tin­gent from the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo came to light this week, and Con­golese Jus­tice Min­is­ter Alexis Thambwe Mwamba said Thurs­day he had or­dered le­gal ac­tion.

Of the 13 cases, one dat­ing from De­cem­ber 2014 was closed af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tors con­cluded that the claims were un­sub­stan­ti­ated.

But the al­le­ga­tions in all 12 other cases re­main un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ei­ther by the coun­try that con­trib­uted the ac­cused sol­diers or jointly with the United Na­tions.

“As far as we are aware, there have not been any con­vic­tions so far,” Cor­ner said.

Morocco and Bu­rundi are in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse tar­get­ing their sol­diers in MINUSCA that sur­faced in June, U.N. of­fi­cials said.

Un­der U.N. rules, it is up to mem­ber states to in­ves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute their sol­diers who face ac­cu­sa­tions of mis­con­duct while serv­ing un­der the U.N. flag.

Ban told a spe­cial Se­cu­rity Coun­cil meet­ing last week that too many coun­tries are slow in re­spond­ing to ac­cu­sa­tions against their sol­diers and in some cases do not re­spond at all.

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