Congo to investigate soldier rape charges in Central African Republic

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 20, 2015 11:30 AM

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo will investigate three of its soldiers accused of rape while serving in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in neighboring Central African Republic, the justice minister said on Thursday.

The United Nations said on Wednesday that three females, including one minor, were allegedly raped in recent weeks by three members of the peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSCA.

Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe acknowledged that the peacekeepers in question were Congolese and said national authorities would soon receive a dossier with evidence collected by U.N. investigators.

"I have indeed ordered the auditor general of the armed forces to launch proceedings against the three soldiers who are implicated in the rapes in Central African Republic," he told Reuters.

MINUSCA has been dogged by accusations of misconduct. Its head, Babacar Gaye, was dismissed from his post last week amid a series of allegations of sexual abuse and excessive use of force by peacekeepers.

The mission of more than 10,000 uniformed personnel was first authorized in Central African Republic in April 2014 to curb fighting between the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels who had seized power in 2013 and the anti-balaka Christian militias.

According to U.N. rules, the troop contributing country has 10 days to decide if it intends to investigate the allegations itself or leave the investigation to the United Nations.

(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Angus MacSwan)