The United Nations is proceeding with its investigation of the events surrounding the release to a third party of an internal report on allegations of sexual misconduct by French military personnel in the Central African Republic (CAR), a spokesperson for the Organization has confirmed.
In a statement issued on 29 April, the UN spokesperson’s office said the report – the result of an investigation conducted by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the CAR in late spring of 2014 – was provided to “an external party” in mid-July 2014 in an unedited form, which included the identities of victims, witnesses and investigators.
According to the UN, the unedited version was “provided unofficially” by a UN staff member to French authorities in late July, prior to even providing it to the OHCHR’s senior management.
“This constitutes a serious breach of protocol, which, as is well known to all OHCHR officials, requires redaction of any information that could endanger victims, witnesses and investigators,” the statement explained.
The investigation followed serious allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children by French military personnel, prior to the establishment of MINUSCA – the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Central African Republic.
French soldiers sodomising boys for cookies
CAR refugees accuse French soldiers of sexually abusing boys as young as 9 years old in exchange for food.
The children told investigators last year that they were sodomised and given bottles of water.
The mother of one of the sodomised children told AP that her son was just 9 years old when he was assaulted by French soldiers.
“They took advantage of the children forcing them to perform oral sex and also sodomizing them,” she said.
“The moaning of children in the area often started around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.”
Another resident said other abused children ranged in age from 10 years old to 13.
“In exchange for cookies, the soldiers demanded oral sex,” she said, recounting what the children told her.
“Afterward they were given bottles of water. They even sodomized the children.”
Paula Donovan, whose group AIDS-Free World has been looking into abuse by peacekeeping personnel, said she had been given a copy of the U.N. internal report that detailed the accusations.
She said that 16 soldiers were cited, including one or two who the children said had been on the lookout while the abuses happened.
Children also accused soldiers from Chad and Equatorial Guinea.
French President Francois Hollande, told reporters in western France on Thursday, that if the allegations are proven true, the sanctions against the soldiers should be “very serious” and “set an example.”
“For the moment, we don’t know if the facts have been proven,” French military spokesman, Col. Gilles Jaron, managed to say.
France, the former colonizer of Central African Republic, sent several thousand additional troops to Bangui in late 2013 and in early 2014 amid sectarian violence that prompted tens of thousands to seek refuge on the grounds of the capital’s airport.
Addressing the matter in Geneva, OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville explained that the most important, investigation was into extremely serious allegations of sexual abuse of children by French soldiers in the Central African Republic.