Kenya: Rights group says Ugandan troops sexually abused CAR women

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) – Ugandan soldiers in the Central African Republic (CAR) have sexually exploited or abused at least 13 women and girls since 2015, including at least one rape, and threatened some victims to remain silent, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

The Ugandan military has been deployed in the country since 2009 as a part of the African Union’s Regional Task Force to eliminate the Uganda rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), but recently announced it is withdrawing its troops.

In a report, Human Rights Watch said it interviewed a total of 13 women and 3 girls in early 2017, who described exploitation or abuse since 2010 by Ugandan soldiers in the southeastern town of Obo, where Ugandan forces were based, and heard credible accounts of other cases.

The human rights watchdog said two of the women were girls when the exploitation or abuse took place. Two women and one girl said that soldiers threatened reprisals if they told Ugandan and United Nations investigators about the abuse.

“As counter-LRA operations wind down, Uganda’s military should not ignore allegations of sexual exploitation and rape by its soldiers in the Central African Republic,” said Lewis Mudge, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Ugandan and African Union authorities should conduct proper investigations, punish those responsible, and make sure that the women and girls who were sexually abused or exploited get the services they need.”

Human Rights Watch said 15 of the women and girls interviewed said they became pregnant, but in each case the soldier who fathered the child left the country and has not provided any support.

"The 16 cases documented by Human Rights Watch clearly under-represent the full extent of sexual exploitation and abuse by the Ugandan forces, not only because sexual violence is generally underreported, but also because others, including the UN and local health workers, have documented other cases," Human Rights Watch said.

In the Central African Republic, women and girls often do not report sexual violence or exploitation due to shame, stigma, or fear of retaliation.

It said in 2016, the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights reported 14 cases of rape by Ugandan forces in the country, including cases involving victims who were children at the time. Four of these cases are among those Human Rights Watch documented.

According to an internal UN report from 2016 obtained by Human Rights Watch, UN investigators in Obo registered 18 cases of sexual violence or harassment by Ugandan soldiers against women and girls who were afraid to give details out of fear of reprisals.

The report states that investigators also obtained information about 44 women and girls with children fathered by Ugandan soldiers; the UN team interviewed 12 of them, all girls, Human Rights Watch said.
-0- PANA MA 15May2017

15 Maio 2017 07:04:05




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