United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon issued a new report, Friday, which states: “There were 99 new allegations of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse against United Nations staff members in 2015 – a sharp increase from the 80 allegations in 2014”.
According to the report, there were sixty-nine out of the ninety allegations which involved UN military and police personnel in ten peacekeeping missions. They have been incriminated in acts of sexual crimes while serving in twenty-one African countries .
The UN is under fire to exert more effort in investigating and punishing sexual predators within its peacekeeping ranks. This proceeds an independent panel report into the handling of various abuse cases which were described as a “gross institutional failure” of the UN in handling such allegations.
Ban Ki-moon’s report does not “identify the nationalities of the 30 UN staff members accused of sexual abuse or exploitation who were not working for peacekeeping missions”.
The report follows a new UN “name and shame” policy which was implemented to spot despicable peacekeepers who rather than protect the country they have been sent to by the UN, enter the territory and begin to carry out sexual assaults on young girls living in the area, particularly the steady ‘series of allegations of rape and sexual abuse by international troops in Central African Republic (CAR)’.
UN troops who have been involved in the allegation include peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, several European countries, Canada, Burundi, Germany, Ghana, Senegal, Madagascar, Rwanda, the Congo, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Tanzania, Slovakia, Niger, Moldova, Togo, South Africa, Morocco, Benin, Nigeria and Gabon.
Places where the ‘sexual abuse by international peacekeepers’ occurred include Haiti, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ivory Coast and CAR.
Included in the report are recommendations (a) member states should make it easier to identify suspected perpetrators and prosecute them; and (b) UN general assembly and troop contributing countries to allow prosecutions inside the countries where the alleged crimes took place, and creation of a DNA registry of all peacekeepers.
Human rights group say “it is currently up to UN troop-contributing countries to prosecute their soldiers accused of abuse. When such prosecutions happen, the groups say they often take place quietly and it is difficult to follow up on the results and punishments, if any”.
There was an independent review panel which accused the UN and its agencies of ‘grossly mishandling numerous allegations of child sexual abuse by foreign troops in CAR in 2013 and 2014’.
UN countries who contribute its military and police forces for peacekeeping missions abroad will most likely frown at the new report which champions for in-theatre prosecutions for erring peacekeepers though UN diplomats believe the move will serve as a deterrent for others.
Investigators from the Human Rights Watch, Thursday, discovered two victims of sexual exploitation, a 14-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman, who gave accounts of being gang-raped by peacekeepers near Bambari airport. The attacks occurred between October and December 2015 – more than a year after the sexual abuse of children in Bangui by French peacekeepers that was brought to worldwide attention by the UN whistleblower Anders Kompass.
This disclosure came as HRW researchers uncovered cases while working in the country in February.
The women’s right’s researcher at HRW, Hillary Margolis, said: “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.”
The 14-year-old girl told HRW researchers that in November last year two peacekeepers attacked her as she walked by the Minusca base at the airport. “The men were dressed in military uniforms and had their guns,” she said in interviews with researchers. “I walked by and suddenly one of them grabbed me by my arms and the other one ripped off my clothes. They pulled me into the tall grass and one held my arms while the other one pinned down my legs and raped me. The soldier holding my arms tried to hold my mouth but I was still able to scream. Because of that they had to run away before the second soldier could rape me.”
The 18-year-old woman said she visited the Republic of the Congo base near the airport looking for food in late 2015. She said armed peacekeepers forced her into the bush and gang-raped her. “There were three of them on me. They were armed. They said if I resisted they would kill me. They took me one by one.”
All the victims were living at a camp for displaced people in Bambari.