The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) said today that it is determined to investigate fully all allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by its forces in the country and to hold to account perpetrators of such acts.
During the regular press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York, spokesperson Vannina Maestracci said, “investigations into recent allegations of sexual assault on a minor and killings by UN forces in Bangui are ongoing.”
Information gathered by the Human Rights and Child Protection sections and the MINUSCA police have been submitted to the UN internal oversight body (OIOS), which is mandated to investigate cases of alleged misconduct by UN forces, identify perpetrators and ensure accountability for victims.
“The investigation is complicated by the numerous nationalities of police and military personnel involved in the operations launched in the ‘PK5’ area of (the capital) Bangui on 2 and 3 August,” she continued. “MINUSCA will not publish preliminary findings that may be prejudicial to the ongoing investigation.”
Adopting a position of transparency if its forces commit abuses, MINUSCA’s stance is that its own peacekeepers be held to the same high standards as that expected of others.
Issuing its own statement, MINUSCA declared: “All allegations of misconduct by United Nations staff is the Central African Republic (CAR) are taken extremely seriously, and are the subject of thorough investigation.”
MINUSCA stressed that it will work with troop contributing countries to ensure that any of its uniformed personnel found to be responsible for human rights violations in CAR, including sexual exploitation and abuse, are held to account. In July, six peacekeepers were repatriated for excessive use of force against detainees.
Since its creation in April 2014, MINUSCA has investigated 57 cases of misconduct, of which 11 involve allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Ms. Maestracci elaborated that the mission was determined to punish any acts of misconduct, including sexual violence by its personnel – hence the importance of protecting the integrity of the investigations and the confidentiality of victims and witnesses.
“MINUSCA…reiterates its utter determination to enforce the Secretary-General's zero tolerance policy against sexual exploitation or abuse by its personnel,” Ms. Maestracci concluded.
The mission’s Child Protection Section, with UNICEF, is offering appropriate support to the victim of the alleged sexual assault.