Countries delay UN plan to name those accused of sex abuse

AP News
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Posted: Aug 20, 2015 7:17 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations is rejecting growing pressure to name countries whose peacekeepers face sexual abuse accusations in Central African Republic against children as young as 11, keeping silent because member states have delayed the U.N. chief's plan to identify alleged perpetrators.

The U.N. General Assembly in June adopted a resolution that in part singled out Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's intention to name countries when sexual abuse allegations are credible. The resolution asked Ban to "engage in consultations with member states, in particular troop-contributing countries" over reporting such cases.

Peacekeepers in Central African Republic have been hit by more than a dozen allegations of sexual abuse, and Ban last week took the unprecedented step of firing the mission's leader, saying "enough is enough." The issue has haunted the world body for years.

Ban also repeated his intention to start naming countries. But a spokeswoman for him this week said the initiative needs the 193-member General Assembly's approval.

Of the 13 sexual abuse allegations received since peacekeepers started arriving in Central African Republic nearly a year ago to calm sectarian violence, "nine involve alleged attacks on minors," the mission's deputy head, Diane Corner, said Thursday.

No one has been convicted, she said.

The latest accusations, announced Wednesday, were brought by the families of three young females, including one minor, against three members of Congo's military. Half of that country's troops, and all of its police officers, are now expected to leave the mission by October instead of December.

The U.N. has been urged to name names. In June, a high-level panel led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta recommended a major overhaul of peacekeeping operations that would include naming countries whose troops commit acts of sexual abuse.

Countries have the sole responsibility to prosecute their troops, but the U.N.'s internal oversight office this summer reported that many countries don't even tell the U.N. whether they intend to investigate alleged sexual misconduct.

The U.N. relies on member states to contribute troops and police to put peacekeepers in some of the world's most vulnerable areas. Most of the top troop contributors are largely developing countries from Africa and South Asia, who are paid a little over $1,000 per person per month in return.

Angering the countries by naming them in sexual misconduct cases could shrink an already stretched pool of available troops and police.

Congo's military, which has nearly 900 personnel in Central African Republic, has been called out by the U.N. in the past for conflict-related sexual violence, including against children.

Dragica Mikavica, advocacy officer for the New York-based Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, told The Associated Press that when the group asked why Congo was allowed to send peacekeepers when it serves in no other U.N. mission, the peacekeeping office replied, "They have the troops."

In April, the now-fired peacekeeping mission chief, Babacar Gaye, addressed the group's concerns during a talk at the International Peace Institute, saying of Congo's troops: "You may be disappointed, but they are behaving."