Ethiopia: AU to punish peacekeepers involved in sexual violence

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - African Union (AU) Special Envoy for Women and Peace, Benita Diop, has launched a bid to effectively protect women in conflict zones by proposing a series of strict measures to punish sexual offenders.

The proposals before the Peace and Security Council (PSC), which held a session Tuesday to discuss how to effectively protect women, calls for zero tolerance to sexual violence and proper training of peacekeepers before deployment.    

“We are calling for a policy of zero tolerance to rape and sexual abuse,” Diop said, after presenting her first report on the status of women in conflict. The AU envoy lamented the approach by the Boko Haram, a Nigerian terror group, for targeting girls in its campaign to radicalize the youth.

“We are asking for a framework to enable us monitor compliance with the agreements and strategies agreed upon by states to measure progress in preventing violence against women and improving training of peacekeepers,” Diop added.

AU Peacekeepers in Somalia (AMISOM) were accused, in a report earlier this year, of raping women seeking medical help at their bases in Somalia.

The AU set up a panel to investigate the allegations against the Ugandan and Burundian troops.

Diop said more steps are required to guarantee the protection of the women especially those caught up in violent conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR), Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria.

The AU Special Envoy lamented more resources were being deployed to “reward perpetrators of violent conflicts” at the expense of women who face rejection.

“We need these new tools to be in place so we can evaluate the status of women and ensure that resources allocated to post-conflict reconstruction actually benefits women and are not just put on the hands of those who hold the gun,” Diop said.

Diop, a member of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan investigating the impact of the conflict on women and children, said a report highlighting the current status of women caught up in the conflict, is due to be released.

She also briefed the PSC on previous missions to CAR jointly with the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, to review the contributions.

“The situation of women, particularly in displaced camps, can only be described as inhumane and degrading,” Diop told the Council. “The Government and people of CAR strive towards societal transformation; they need your support to strengthen their governance mechanisms, particularly as they prepare for elections in 2015.”

Diop said women in Somalia expressed concern over the continuing threats from Al Shabaab, causing untold suffering.

“We need to adopt a zero tolerance policy and put in place protective and accountability measures to ensure compliance among our troops.”
-0- PANA AO/VAO 17Dec2014

17 december 2014 15:18:28




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