UN rights chief urges deeper probe of Central Africa abuses

AP News
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Posted: May 30, 2015 5:41 AM

BERLIN (AP) — The United Nations' human rights chief is urging several countries to step up efforts to investigate allegations that peacekeepers in Central African Republic may have committed abuses, a call that comes as the U.N. itself faces pressure over child sexual abuse claims against French soldiers.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein said in a statement Saturday that, following the French sexual abuse investigation, his office has taken a deeper look into the extent to which allegations of serious rights violations by soldiers in "several other international contingents" in an African peacekeeping force in 2014 were followed up. He didn't name any countries.

The long-standing allegations include the killing of civilians, summary executions, abductions and the sexual exploitation of women.

Zeid said investigations into incidents reported by U.N. human rights staff resulted in some action by the countries concerned, including punishment and the early repatriation of some senior commanders, "but this is not sufficient."

"The punishment must fit the crime. Some other incidents were reported that may not have been fully followed up on by the states concerned, and we need to get to the bottom of what precisely was done by whom and when," he said.

Zeid added that, as well as asking countries to provide more information on what steps they have taken to address allegations, he is sending a team from his Geneva headquarters to Central African Republic to look into further measures to address rights violations.

French prosecutors are investigating accusations that soldiers deployed there in 2013-14 to quell sectarian violence sexually abused children.

A document recently obtained by The Associated Press shows that top U.N. human rights officials knew about the allegations for months but didn't follow up, even as France pressed the U.N. for more information.