According to the United Nations’ human rights office, more cases of sexual abuse of children by European peacekeeping troops in Central African Republic (CAR) have been uncovered.
As many as six such cases have been turned up involving foreign soldiers from France, Georgia and another unnamed country. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, high commissioner of the human rights office, has described the new cases as ‘extremely serious accusations’ which must be ‘thoroughly and urgently investigated’
Most of the abuse is believed to have occurred in 2014 as foreign troops fought in the Central African Republic to stem religious and ethnic violence between militias and rebels. In a particular case involving a seven year old, the UN says she said, in an interview, that she was made to perform sexual acts on French soldiers in exchange for water and food.
The UN humans rights office says it has already raised the issue with authorities of the countries involved and Al Hussein confirms that positive responses suggest the allegations will be taken seriously. This is important as while the UN can only report the cases, only the countries involved can initiate prosecutions. With previous similar allegations not yielding any convictions, Al Huseein is hoping that the new cases will follow a different path. “Far too many of these crimes continue to go unpunished, with the perpetrators enjoying full impunity. This simply encourages further violations,” he said in a statement.
“As more and more cases emerge, implicating more and more national contingents, it is also clear that all foreign military forces, whether UN or non-UN, must employ much stronger and more effective actions to prevent further abuse and exploitation – and not just in CAR.”