UN: Amnesty Int'l wants rape, indiscriminate killings in CAR investigated

New York, US (PANA) - The rape of a 12-year-old girl and the indiscriminate killings of a 16-year-old boy and his father by UN peacekeeping forces in the Central African Republic (CAR) must be urgently investigated, with those implicated in the crimes suspended immediately, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

A statement from Amnesty International, obtained by PANA in New York, stated that the incidents took place on 2 and 3 August as peacekeeping forces from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) were carrying out an operation in the capital Bangui’s PK5 Muslim enclave.

It quoted Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, as saying:
"Our evidence strongly suggests that a UN peacekeeper raped a young girl and that UN
peacekeeping forces indiscriminately killed two civilians."

"An independent civilian investigation must be urgently launched and those implicated must be suspended immediately and for the duration of the investigation," she stressed.

She noted that Amnesty International interviewed 15 witnesses in the immediate aftermath of both incidents, as well as the girl and members of her family, noting that, "a nurse who examined the girl found medical evidence consistent with sexual assault."

"The girl had been hiding in a bathroom during a house search at approximately 2am on 2 August. A man allegedly wearing the blue helmet and vest of the UN peacekeeping forces took her outside and raped her behind a truck.

"When I cried, he slapped me hard and put his hand over my mouth," Ms. Mariner quoted the girl as saying.

Also, the statement said a MINUSCA spokesperson told Amnesty International that the
operation was carried out by Rwandan and Cameroonian police and gendarmes belonging to the UN peacekeeping forces.

It recalled that during armed clashes with residents of the enclave early in the morning of 2 August, a Cameroonian soldier was killed and nine other soldiers injured.

The following day, UN peacekeeping forces returned to PK5, and witnesses told Amnesty
International that the peacekeepers were not under any threat but began shooting
indiscriminately in the street where the killings had taken place.

The statement said: "Balla Hadji, 61, and his son Souleimane Hadji, 16, were struck by bullets in front of their house. Balla was apparently shot in the back, while Souleimane was shot in the chest."

"A neighbour who witnessed the killings told Amnesty International that they were going to shoot at anything that moved," it said.

It stated: "Without responding to the substance of Amnesty International’s questions about the PK5 operation, a MINUSCA spokesperson said it has opened an initial internal investigation into the operation."

Amnesty International further said that the UN and all its troop-contributing countries must fully adhere to its stated "zero tolerance" policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.

"These allegations of rape and indiscriminate killing committed by UN troops are supported by physical evidence and multiple witness accounts.

"There must be a prompt and thorough investigation by a competent civilian authority and the girl must receive full support including medical and psychological care, and UN peacekeeping forces in Bangui should review their rules of engagement to ensure they are taking all feasible precautions to avoid incidental loss of civilian life," " Ms. Mariner added.

In recent months, the UN has been criticized for its lack of adequate response to allegations of sexual abuse of children by international military forces in CAR.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently set up an External Independent Review Panel to examine the UN’s handling of these allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, and to make recommendations as to how the UN should respond to similar allegations in the future.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 11Aug2015

11 august 2015 14:39:58

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