GENEVA, Switzerland, September 3, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein announced Thursday that UN staff in the Central African Republic (CAR) learned on August 30 that a girl was allegedly sexually abused around a year ago by a member of the French military force, known as Sangaris. 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.