The United Nations (UN) and its agencies have been accused of mishandling sexual abuse cases involving children by international peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR). Barely five months after 13 sexual misconduct allegations were made against UN peacekeeping forces in the CAR, a fresh case has emerged. Similar to an alleged crime against two young women and one minor, in the north eastern part of Bangui, the force is facing new allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, also known as MINUSCA, said, in a statement, that it was “investigating fresh allegations concerning both sexual exploitation and abuse and other misconduct by UN peacekeepers and international forces in Bangui.” Although the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, appointed a review panel in June 2015 to look into how the UN handled separate allegations of sexually abused children in the CAR, many sexual abuse cases are still being thrown at the international organisation.
As of 2015 the number of sexual misconduct allegations against MINUSCA, since it was officially formed in April 2014, stood at 13, out of a total of 61 misconduct accusations made against the mission. The peacekeepers who have been in the CAR since the sectarian violence started between Christians and Muslims erupted, have repeatedly violated human rights, with reports of rape, sodomy, transactional sex and indiscriminate killings. As a result of all of these allegations, it is time for the UN to consider enforcing proactive measures in the interest of peace and security by checking peacekeepers’ activities and persecuting guilty personnel.
In one of the past cases reported, a 12-year old girl, was hiding in a bathroom during a house search on the 2nd of August when a man wearing a U.N. blue helmet and vest took her outside and raped her behind a truck. “When I cried, he slapped me hard and put his hand over my mouth,” she told Amnesty investigators. A nurse later examined the girl and found medical evidence consistent with sexual assault. New Zealand’s UN ambassador, Gerard van Bohemen, recently expressed discontent with the fact that such allegations keep surfacing as he is “really sick and tired” of it.
The United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said earlier in the year, “If the allegations are substantiated, this would constitute a grave violation of U.N principles and the code of conduct for UN peacekeepers. The member state would be requested to take swift and appropriate punitive action.
India commanded global attention in June 2015, for bringing legal action against 3 of its own soldiers who were guilty of sexual abuse during their peacekeeping action in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. As a result of all the allegations raised against the 10,000-strong force, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon fired the mission chief last year.
Since the CAR is a former French colony, France attempted to restore peace between Christian militias and largely Muslim Seleka rebels who had seized power in the CAR. As such, France handed over to U.N peacekeepers, calling back some of its 2,000 troops.