CAR, 3 September 2015 – United Nations staff in the Central African Republic (CAR) learned on 30 August that a girl was allegedly sexually abused around a year ago by a member of the French military force there, known as Sangaris, according to the world body’s human rights chief.
The girl, who is believed to have been in her mid to late teens at the time of the alleged abuse, gave birth to a child in April, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said in a news release today.
These allegations follow cases reported in August by the human rights group Amnesty International, involving troops from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA).
“This is the latest in a series of appalling allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by foreign troops in CAR,” the High Commissioner said. “Although this particular case did not involve UN peacekeepers, there have been a number of other cases in CAR – and elsewhere – which have. We simply have to find ways to prevent such odious acts being committed by any soldiers anywhere who are supposed to be protecting vulnerable populations.”
The High Commissioner, who is currently visiting CAR, said that the French authorities have been informed of this latest allegation, and that the United Nations stands ready to assist in an investigation. He added that governments of countries which contribute troops to UN peacekeeping operations have an obligation to investigate all such cases in a timely manner.
“Any UN or other foreign military personnel found guilty must be given sentences that fit the crime,” Mr. Zeid said.
The UN human rights chief also underlined that his office is working closely with MINUSCA, and with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which, through its partners, will provide psycho-social support and legal assistance for the girl and her family.
The victim has reportedly lodged a paternity case with the local authorities.