UN panel to review CAR child sex abuse claims

2015-06-23 11:55


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - A former Supreme Court justice of Canada will lead a review of how the United Nations handled allegations that French and African troops sexually abused children in the Central African Republic, the UN announced on Monday.

Marie Deschamps will chair the independent panel that will include Hassan Jallow of Gambia, a prosecutor of the UN tribunal for Rwanda, and Yasmin Sooka, executive director of the Foundation of Human Rights in South Africa.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the creation of the panel earlier this month following a furor over allegations that French troops had sexually abused children at a camp for displaced civilians near Bangui, from December 2013 to June 2014.

The United Nations has been badly shaken by accusations that it failed to act quickly to respond to the serious claims contained in a report by UN rights investigators that was leaked to the media in April.

At least 14 French soldiers are under investigation over allegations that children were forced to perform oral sex in exchange for food.

The report also provided accounts from children, aged 8 to 13, who said troops from Chad and Equatorial Guinea brutally raped boys.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the panel will have unrestricted access to all UN records, staff members and other UN personnel to assess the world body's response to the allegations.

Deschamps, who served on the Supreme Court for 10 years until 2012, has recently presented a report on sexual misconduct in the Canadian armed forces.

The panel will begin work next month and aim to submit a report within ten weeks.

Very damaging for the UN

French troops were deployed to the Central African Republic in December 2013 to help African Union peacekeepers restore order after the country exploded into violence triggered by a coup.

The contingents were deployed months before a UN peacekeeping force took over from the AU mission.

Ivan Simonovic, the UN assistant secretary general for human rights, said the scandal had been "very damaging" for the UN's global work to advance human rights.

"This issue will not go away. We need to get to the bottom of it," Simonovic told reporters.

"If we, who are always requesting accountability aren't ready to establish facts and go for accountability, we would be losing all credibility."

Simonovic said the panel should not focus on who is to blame for the poor handling of the child abuse allegations but more on the UN's rules and procedures for addressing such cases.

"I don't think we should just have sacrificial lambs. I think that we should go for the system. There is room for improvement of the system," he said.

Read more on:    central african republic  |  central africa  |  child abuse

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.