Amnesty International has criticized a reform plan proposed by the UN to tackle sexual abuse by its peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR), saying the world body must give due punishment to the perpetrators of the crimes that could disgrace the UN.
“Sexual misconduct by UN peacekeepers threatens to discredit the entire UN system if it goes unpunished. … Every time someone wearing the blue beret commits an abuse and gets away with it, another piece of trust in the UN is chipped away,” Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser, said on Friday.
Mariner further emphasized that the countries, which fail to hold their troops to account, should be suspended from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
The remarks came one day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a report, outlining measures urgently required to root out sexual abuse by those serving under the UN flag in the CAR.
“We cannot be the source of additional suffering. My report therefore outlines over a dozen new measures I am taking to rid the United Nations of heinous sexual exploitation and abuse,” Ban said.
The Amnesty official, however, stressed that Ban’s proposed measures fall short of acting as a deterrent, adding that the UN chief’s annual report must include full details about the abuse cases, including trials and sentences.
“Ban Ki-moon’s legacy will rest on how well he delivers on his espoused determination to stamp out sexual abuse among UN peacekeepers,” Mariner said.
MINUSCA has been hit with a total of 15 cases of alleged sexual abuse.
Back in April, a UN report revealed that troops from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea working as UN peacekeepers in the CAR, allegedly engaged in the sexual abuse of hungry refugee children at a center for internally-displaced people in the African country’s capital, Bangui, between December 2013 and June 2014.
The CAR plunged into crisis in December 2013, when Christian anti-balaka militia began coordinated attacks against the country’s mostly Muslim Seleka group, which toppled the government in March that year.
On December 5, Paris invaded its former colony after the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution giving the African Union and France the go-ahead to send troops to the country