Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced his intention to establish an independent review panel to investigate the United Nations' handling of sexual abuse allegations involving foreign troops in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Organization has confirmed.
In a statement issued this afternoon, the UN Spokesperson's Office explained that the External Independent Review would examine the treatment of the specific report of abuse in the CAR as well as “a broad range of systemic issues related to how the UN responds to serious information of this kind.”
“As has been stated over the past few weeks, the Secretary-General is deeply disturbed by the allegations of sexual abuse by soldiers in the CAR, as well as allegations of how this was handled by the various parts of the UN system involved,” today's statement continued.
“His intention in setting up this review is to ensure that the United Nations does not fail the victims of sexual abuse, especially when committed by those who are meant to protect them.”
The statement added that the Secretary-General would announce in the next few days who will lead the review and its terms of reference.
Just last weekend, the UN High Commissioner for Human Right, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, reported that his Office had taken “a deeper look” into “the revelations of alleged serious sexual abuse of children” in the CAR despite the fact that the forces involved in the incidents were not operating as peacekeepers under the United Nations flag.
Moreover, the High Commissioner said that in addition to requesting concerned States to provide more information about the steps they have taken to investigate the allegations, and prosecute anyone found to have committed crimes, he is sending a team from his Geneva headquarters to the African country to look into possible further measures to address violations.
“The punishment must fit the crime, and some other incidents were reported that may not have been fully followed up on by the States concerned, and we need to get to the bottom of what precisely was done by whom and when,” Mr. Zeid emphasized. “There must be accountability for serious crimes, no matter who commits them.”