Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused U.N. peacekeepers of sexually abusing or exploiting at least eight women and girls in the Central African Republic last year, including the rape of a 14-year old girl and the gang-rape of an 18-year old woman. The organization said all the incidents took place between October and December last year, and were uncovered by their researchers who were working in the war-torn country last month. Their research revealed that the alleged perpetrators were all Congolese soldiers employed as peacekeepers in Minusca, the U.N. mission in the Central African Republic, with their victims living in a camp for displaced people in Bambari. “In a country where armed groups routinely prey on civilians, peacekeepers should be protectors not predators. Sending peacekeepers back home is not enough. The UN needs to insist that troops’ home countries bring rapists and other abusers to justice, and that survivors get the support they need,” said Hillary Margolis, the women’s rights researcher at HRW.
Just last week, the U.N. human rights office had reported it had uncovered six more cases of sexual abuse against children by European peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic. These new cases come to light more than a year after the sexual abuse of children in Bangui by French peacekeepers was reported by whistleblower Anders Kompass, which led to an independent panel reporting “gross institutional failure” in the United Nations’ handling of such allegations. The U.N. has faced increasing pressure to do more to prosecute these sexual predators: right now, they can only report the sexual abuse to the governments providing the troops, but they often fail to investigate or prosecute their soldiers.
Read the full story at The Guardian.