November 22, 2017

UNITED NATIONS: 31 Cases Of Sexual Exploitation And Sexual Abuse By UN Workers Reported In Past 3 Months. Including Rape Of Minors By UN Peacekeepers. ๐Ÿ˜ง๐Ÿ˜ 

Daily Sabah News, Turkey
written by German Press Agency, DPA
Friday November 3, 2017

The U.N. received 31 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against its staff in the three months from July to September this year, Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman said Friday.

The accusations were leveled against U.N. staff from across the system. Twelve of the allegations were against peacekeeping operations and 19 were against workers from agencies, funds and programs - including U.N. children's fund UNICEF and refugee agency UNHCR.

Guterres pledged to stamp out sexual exploitation under the U.N. flag after an investigation revealed widespread allegations of rape and abuse of minors by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) last year.

Twelve of the incidents reported in the three-month period were alleged to have taken place in 2017, two in 2016, six in 2015 and 11 before 2015 or the date is unknown.

Ten are categorized as sexual abuse, 19 as sexual exploitation and two are unclassified as the age of the accusers are unknown.

In countries like CAR, it is common for people to not have birth certificates to prove their precise age, Victims' Rights Advocate Jane Connors told reporters at a briefing in New York.

Connors was appointed to the newly created role as part of Guterres' efforts to tackle sex abuse in the U.N.

Creating a structure for victims to report allegations and providing psychosocial support are part of the new strategy.

A U.N. trust fund which currently has 1.5 million dollars and is open for donations will help to pay for victim support.

"The focus should be rebuilding the lives of these people and seeking justice for them," Connors said.

Recurrent training for U.N. troops is also imperative to and "has to be aimed at changing the mindset" of perpetrators to tackle abuse, Connors said.

As part of Guterres' plans to tackle sexual exploitation in the U.N., four field victims' rights advocates have also been placed in the areas where the majority of allegations have come from: Haiti, CAR, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

The U.N. has also introduced a digital monitoring system to flag up the names of anyone dismissed during an investigation of sexual abuse to prevent them being rehired by another part of the system, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

In one recent case publicized by Amnesty International, U.N. peacekeepers allegedly drugged and raped a teenage girl in the CAR town of Bambari on September 30.

The CAR authorities carried out a criminal investigation, but it cannot lead to prosecution because the U.N.'s blue helmets are immune from prosecution in their host countries. It is up to their home countries to bring them to justice for alleged crimes.

The new accusations have sparked 14 U.N. investigations involving 38 male alleged perpetrators.

The U.N. undertakes its own investigations into allegations and passes on the findings to the countries providing the troops to peacekeeping missions with the expectation that the home country will take action.

Connors said there is a need to create a system for accused troops' home countries to report back on the progress of cases once they are handed over.

As recently as June this year, a battalion of Congolese peacekeepers was sent home from the CAR amid accusations of sexual abuse and a recommendation from their force commander that they were "no longer trustable."
THE IRONY!
Amnesty International
written by Staff
Wednesday October 11, 2017

The United Nations must take firm action in response to credible new evidence that UN peacekeepers drugged and raped a young woman in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today after interviewing the victim and 10 others with direct knowledge of the case.

The organization’s on-the-ground research revealed that one or more Mauritanian peacekeepers allegedly raped a 19-year-old woman in the central town of Bambari on the evening of 30 September 2017.

“We have uncovered compelling evidence suggesting that at least one Mauritanian peacekeeper, and possibly more, raped a young woman,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International. “The public authorities in the town of Bambari have confirmed the rape, and the UN is investigating it.

“If substantiated, these serious rape allegations should result in the repatriation, suspension, and prosecution of any troops suspected of criminal responsibility. The UN must also ensure the victim receives support and damages. Its peacekeepers are in CAR to protect civilians from violence, rather than perpetrate it.”

The 19-year-old woman told Amnesty International that the rape took place adjacent to a checkpoint manned by a group of Mauritanian peacekeepers, part of the MINUSCA force stationed in CAR. She said that because she was feeling ill, she accepted tea that the soldiers offered her as she was walking home from a funeral at about 9pm.

She said she passed out not long after she drank the tea, and woke up on the ground nearby several hours later, nearly nude.

A guard and healthcare worker from a medical clinic adjacent to the checkpoint found the woman in the middle of the night, seeming quite ill and sedated. They put her in bed and treated her with intravenous fluids.

They told Amnesty International a Mauritanian soldier from the checkpoint twice visited the clinic later that night to ask where the woman was.

In the morning, when she had recovered enough to speak coherently, the woman told the healthcare worker that she believed she had been raped.

Medical staff at a local hospital carried out tests on the victim and told Amnesty International that they found evidence of drugging and sexual violence, including semen. They treated the woman with emergency contraception and anti-HIV medication.

Authorities in Bambari carried out a formal criminal investigation of the case, which, according to the local prosecutor, was the first such investigation involving UN troops.

Although there has been a continuing stream of well-documented allegations of rape involving UN troops in Bambari, particularly troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo, no other cases have resulted in criminal investigations.

While Amnesty International was present in Bambari at the beginning of October, the victim and witnesses came forward to give statements to the police. The healthcare worker also identified the Mauritanian soldier who had visited the clinic in the middle of the night to look for the 19-year-old woman.

Local workers who visited the site of the incident very early in the morning said that they saw condoms and condom wrappers at the exact location of the alleged rape. Later that morning, the police photographed at least one condom wrapper there, as well as traces of a material that was believed to have come from the boots of Mauritanian soldiers.

The local prosecutor in Bambari has forwarded the case to the country’s attorney general for diplomatic action. Although UN troops enjoy immunity from domestic criminal prosecution, troop-contributing countries have a duty to investigate and prosecute crimes by their troops.

At a press conference held in Bangui yesterday, local authorities reportedly denounced the larger problem of sexual abuse by UN peacekeeping troops.

“This is a crucial test case for UN peacekeeping,” said Joanne Mariner.

“Given its stated zero tolerance policy, we expect the UN to take this case extremely seriously, and to take vigorous action to ensure that the Mauritanian authorities do the same. Its response to this case will be closely scrutinized.”

At a meeting with Amnesty International last week, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the head of MINUSCA, emphasized that the UN was taking the allegations very seriously, and had immediately dispatched a team of investigators to Bambari. He promised that the UN would take decisive action if the allegations were found to be substantiated.

The 19-year-old victim told Amnesty International that she wanted the UN to investigate the crime, and that she wanted the perpetrators to go to prison. She said that just as she had willingly given a formal statement to the local police, she was prepared to recount the entire incident to UN and/or Mauritanian investigators.

Background

An Amnesty International researcher in Bambari interviewed 11 people with direct knowledge of the case, including the victim, members of her family, medical staff who cared for her, witnesses who visited the site of the alleged rape early that morning, and local police and prosecutorial authorities.

On several previous occasions, Amnesty International has documented allegations of rape and sexual violence by MINUSCA and other peacekeepers in CAR, including the rape of a 12-year-old girl in Bangui in August 2015.

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