CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: New sexual abuse allegations against French soldiers

[3 September 2015] - Fresh allegations have come to light about sexual abuse of children by French soldiers in Central African Republic (CAR).

France sent troops to CAR in 2013 after widespread violence broke out and a UN peacekeeping mission was deployed as well.

More than a dozen allegations of sexual abuse have been levelled against the peacekeepers and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon fired the mission's leader last month.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein announced today that staff in CAR heard allegations that a girl was sexually abused around a year ago by a member of a French military force on August 30.

The girl, who is believed to have been in her mid to late teens at the time of the alleged abuse, gave birth to a child in April.

“This is the latest in a series of appalling allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by foreign troops in CAR,” Zeid said.

“Although this particular case did not involve UN peacekeepers, there have been a number of other cases in CAR – and elsewhere – which have.

"We simply have to find ways to prevent such odious acts being committed by any soldiers anywhere who are supposed to be protecting vulnerable populations.”

The High Commissioner, who is currently visiting CAR, said that the French authorities have been informed of this latest allegation and said the United Nations stands ready to assist in an investigation.

He added that governments of troop-contributing countries have an obligation to investigate all such cases in a timely manner. “Any UN or other foreign military personnel found guilty must be given sentences that fit the crime,” Zeid said.

The UN human rights chief said his office is working closely with the UN mission in CAR, known as MINUSCA, and with UNICEF which, through its partners, will provide psycho-social support and legal assistance for the girl and her family. The victim has lodged a paternity case with the local authorities.

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