Oct. 12 (UPI) — UN peacekeepers drugged and raped a 19-year-old woman in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said Wednesday, adding more pressure on the United Nations to deal with the problem of sexual abuse committed by its forces there.
“We have uncovered compelling evidence suggesting that at least one Mauritanian peacekeeper, and possibly more, raped a young woman,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International. “The public authorities in the town of Bambari have confirmed the rape, and the UN is investigating it.”
The victim told Amnesty International that she was raped at a checkpoint manned by Mauritanian peacekeepers while on her way to a funeral. She said the soldiers offered her tea, which she accepted because she was feeling ill. The next thing she remembers is waking up on the ground nearly nude hours later. and woke up on the ground nearby several hours later, nearly nude.
“If substantiated, these serious rape allegations should result in the repatriation, suspension, and prosecution of any troops suspected of criminal responsibility,” Mariner said. “The UN must also ensure the victim receives support and damages. Its peacekeepers are in CAR to protect civilians from violence, rather than perpetrate it.”
Last year, a UN report found at least 108 victims of sexual abuse, the majority of them minors, by UN peacekeepers in Central African Republic.
In one case, three girls said a French military commander forced them to have sex with a dog, reported the Chicago Tribune.
“We must face the fact that a number of troops sent to protect people instead acted with hearts of darkness,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at the time.
Although the UN began investigating the cases last year, Code Blue, a US-based watchdog group pushing for greater accountability among UN peacekeepers, told Al Jazeera in September that many of the investigations were mishandled and many cases simply filtered out.
“The filtering ensures that there is no access to justice for the vast majority of victims since they cannot gain access to law enforcement authorities without first convincing UN staff to believe them,” said Sharanya Kanikkannan, a lawyer with Code Blue.