CAR: Amnesty International calls for 'stronger peacekeeping force' in CAR to protect civilians

Bangui, Central African Republic (PANA) - The Human rights group, Amnesty International, said on Thursday that the announced withdrawal of French Sangaris forces from Central African Republic (CAR) later this year further increased the urgency for the UN Security Council to ensure that the MINUSCA peacekeeping force is much better equipped to protect civilians and promote justice.

Stephen Cockburn, Deputy Regional Director for Amnesty International in West and Central Africa, said in a statement that Wednesday's inauguration of CAR’s new President Faustin-Archange Touadéra offered an opportunity to rebuild and stabilize the country, including to bring those suspected of having committed serious human rights violations to justice.

"But to do so, CAR needs the international community to boost its support, including by ensuring the peacekeeping force is well-equipped to prevent and contain large-scale violence.”

In relation to news of further allegations of sexual abuse by international forces in CAR,  Cockburn added: “There must be no room for impunity for human rights violations, not least regarding serious allegations of sexual abuse. The investigations launched by the United Nations are welcome but, if there is sufficient evidence, they must lead to any perpetrators being prosecuted in criminal courts in order to ensure justice for victims and deter further abuse.”

The United Nations has reported that a delegation, led by the Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for CAR, visited Kemo prefecture to gather more information on new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as to engage with local communities and authorities.

Delegation members included UN personnel from the conduct and discipline team, the human rights unit, as well as representatives of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

“On Friday, the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) said it received new information of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse both by UN and non-UN forces and civilians in the Kemo prefecture,” said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, at a press briefing in New York on Monday.

“These allegations reportedly refer to incidents that occurred in 2014 and 2015,” he noted. “The Mission said that its primary concern was to ensure that victims have been assisted and all reports immediately investigated to ensure that any perpetrator is appropriately sanctioned," a UN statement said.

The integrated team will gather all available information and preserve evidence to the extent possible.
-0- PANA MA/AR 31March2016

31 march 2016 17:10:06

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