Some French soldiers in CAR abuse probe identified – source




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PARIS  – French authorities have identified some their accused sexually abusing children in Central African Republic while there on peacekeeping duties, a French judicial source said on Thursday.

matter, which risks damaging reputation France’ military operations in Africa, came to light this week when Britain’ Guardian newspaper published an internal U.N. raised allegations of rape of boys by French .

source said an initial reading of suggested 14 soldiers were involved in alleged , which took place between December 2013 and June 2014. Subsequent French inquiries had identified some of them, the source said, adding soldiers had been questioned yet.

President Francois Hollande, who has been a strong advocate of using French military muscle to help secure peace in former colonies such as Central African Republic or Mali, said anyone found guilty would be made an example of.

“If this information is confirmed … the punishment will be proportionate to the deeds. If they are serious, the punishment will be harsh,” he told reporters during a public engagement in western France.

The judicial source said soldiers of other nationalities were also implicated by the U.N. , but gave further details. French prosecutors will also ask for an internal French army report on the matter to be declassified.

France intervened in Central African Republic, a former French colony, some 18 months ago to violence between militias and largely Muslim Seleka rebels who had seized power. It started withdrawing some of its 2,000 this year, handing over to U.N. peacekeepers.

France’ Defence Ministry confirmed the alleged took place at a centre for displaced people at M’Poko airport in the capital Bangui. It said it would “all necessary measures” to establish the truth.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon confirmed on Wednesday that the U.N. office for human rights in Bangui had conducted an investigation in spring of 2014.

He said a U.N. staff member admitted leaking an unredacted report on the investigation before it reached top in the U.N.’ Office of the High for Human Rights’ (OHCHR).

“This constitutes a serious breach of protocol, which, as is well known to all OHCHR officials, requires redaction of any information that could endanger victims, witnesses and investigators.”

 

 (Reuters)*