The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has voiced its deep concern over the situation of children at the centre of allegations of sexual abuse by French and other foreign troops in the Central African Republic (CAR).
“The rights and welfare of these children must be everyone’s priority at the moment,” said Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Chairperson of the CRC. “Without the need to wait for the outcome of ongoing investigations, these children must be protected from abuse, any form of reprisal and, not least, from intrusive media interest which may put them at further risk,” Mr Mezmur said.
“We welcome the fact that France has launched an investigation and look forward to our discussions with France in January,” Mr. Mezmur said, referring to the long scheduled regular review of France by the CRC, which will take place in January 2016. The Committee has requested information on the French investigation into the alleged abuses.*
The Committee welcomes the appointment on 22 June by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the three-member panel to conduct an External Independent Review of the United Nations’ response to the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children by foreign military forces not under United Nations command, and looks forward to the speedy conclusion of its work.
“We do not wish to prejudge either investigation. As the CRC, our main concern is to advocate that clear and strong procedures are in place, and are followed, to first and foremost prevent any abuse of children. This includes situations where foreign troops are present in a country, whether they are UN peacekeepers or, as in this case, acting independently. And secondly, should abuses take place, the priorities should be to protect the victims from further harm, pursue accountability and provide redress to the children,” Mr. Mezmur stressed. “The Committee will continue to follow the developments on this matter,” he added.
United Nations – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)