The United Nations said on Thursday that is looking into allegations that complaints of sexual abuse and exploitation made against its peacekeepers in the dispute-torn Central African Republic were mishandled and not reported.
The United Nation’s 10,000-powerful mission in Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has been dogged by allegation of sex abuse since it deployed in 2014 to curb fighting between mainly Muslim Seleka rebels, who had expel the president, and Christian militias.
Internal United Nation case files handed to Code Blue – a campaign by a non-governmental organisation seeking higher accountability for U.N. troops – detail 14 initial fact-finding inquiries into complaints made against MINUSCA peacekeepers from nine nations.
Under U.N. rules, peacekeepers are under the complete jurisdiction of the countries that sent them to perform their duties abroad.
Up till now the files – which were not seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation – reveal that 10 of the 14 cases were handled only by United Nation personnel, without involvement of investigators from the accused soldiers’ home countries, and that in eight of the 14 cases, the alleged victims were not questioned, Code Blue said.
“These 14 cases reveal that the U.N. filters reports of complaints, usually tossing them out before the matters ever reach the capable authorities from troop-contributing countries,” said Sharanya Kanikkannan, a lawyer with Code Blue.
MINUSCA reveal in an email that it is “analyzing and will transparently report on allegations (made by Code Blue)… of unreported cases of sexual exploitation and abuse”.
“MINUSCA has created battle against sexual exploitation and abuse its core trade,” as stated by spokesperson Vladimir Monteiro.
“It recognizes that sexual abuse cases have severely endanger the mission’s credibility and reputation in the past,” Monteiro told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Following the MINUSCA response, United Nation spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York late on Thursday that he did not believe the leaked files were a “representative sample”.
In December 2015, an independent review panel condemn the United Nations for grossly mishandling allegations of child sexual abuse and rape by international peacekeepers in 2013 and 2014 in Central African Republic, where heavy fighting wages on.
Thousands have died and a fifth of Central Africans have run away from violence that broke out in 2013