In the spring of 2014, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Central African Republic, carried out a probe which was to investigate “serious allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children by French military personnel.” It was a United Nations (U.N.) worker, Anders Kompass, who eventually leaked the information about the investigation to French authorities who are now placed in charge of the inquiry. The worker was suspended as a result of the leak and they are now under internal investigation.
It is alleged that the abuse took place in the area before the U.N. Took over the region. The French government was told about the investigation in the summer of 2014. Paris and Military authorities then opened a preliminary investigation in August. Central African children had told UNICEF and U.N. Officials of sexual assaults by French soldiers between December of 2013 and June of 2014, according to the French Defense Ministry. The French Ministry has said that should the accusations turn out to be true, then those accused would suffer “the strictest sanctions” for their behavior.
At least 16 French soldiers have been accused of abusing at least 10 boys, aged between eight and 15 years old, according to Paula Donovan of activist group AIDS-Free World. In exchange for the abuse, some children were given small meals. Donovan confirms that she has seen internal U.N. Documents regarding the initial probe into the child abuse allegations. It is unclear now where the children are who made the accusations, and also where their perpetrators are.
The U.N. Secretary General's office has said that the leak does not constitute whistleblowing, but it was a serious breach of protocol. ”Any issue of sex abuse is a serious issue,.. At the same time, there are concerns we have about the protection of witnesses and victims," the deputy spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Farhan Haq, told reporters in New York.
The Swedish government has come out stating that it's “worrisome” that Kompass would be suspended for sharing information about sexual abuse of children on an international mission. "The U.N. must have zero tolerance toward sexual abuse of children and ensure that suspicions of such abuse are investigated," said Anders Ronquist, legal chief of Sweden's Foreign Ministry, in a statement.
The report looking into the accusations made, titled 'Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces', details the “rape and sodomy of starving and homeless young boys by French peacekeeping troops who were supposed to be protecting them at a center for internally displaced people” that was located in a capital on the Central African Republic.
“The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations’ appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn’t uncommon. The UN’s instinctive response to sexual violence in its ranks – ignore, deny, cover up, dissemble – must be subjected to a truly independent commission of inquiry with total access, top to bottom, and full subpoena power,” said Donovan.
At first, Kompass had tried to pass the report to officials within the high commissioner for human rights in Geneva. However, when they failed to respond, then he went to the French authorities and they finally began an investigation. Currently, the investigation is still underway at attempting to uncover the real truth.
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