UN sex abuse scandal: 11 peacekeepers face paternity claims in DR Congo

MONUSCO

A group of 11 Tanzanian peacekeepers accused of sexual exploitation and abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo also face paternity claims from their alleged victims, the UN said on Monday.

Troops from the mission’s Force Intervention Brigade in the village of Mavivi in eastern DR Congo have been confined to base camp pending investigation, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for secretary general Ban Ki-moon, said.

Unlike other international peacekeeping troops, the brigade has an unprecedented mandate to take military action to neutralise and disarm rebel groups to help end Congo’s long-running conflict.

Dujarric said the 11 accused peacekeepers included four from the mission’s current deployment and seven from a previous contingent.

Meanwhile the first soldiers to face court over the wider sex abuse scandal went on trial in DR Congo on Monday. The three Congolese men from the UN’s Minusca peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic wore blue prison gear as they appeared before the tribunal in Ndolo, a military prison north of the capital Kinshasa.

They are the first troops to be prosecuted. Another 18 soldiers from DR Congo accused of rape – or attempted rape – of the civilians they were meant to be protecting during a peacekeeping mission in CAR were also present in the court.

“We want absolute transparency in this trial,” the justice minister, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, told AFP, adding that “a few individuals cannot discredit our army”.

The UN has been in the spotlight for months over allegations of sexual abuse by its peacekeepers, especially those based in Congo and Central African Republic. On Thursday, the UN said more than 100 girls and women had come forward with new sexual abuse accusations against peacekeepers in CAR.

The UN’s Congo mission first announced on Friday that it had received allegations of sex with minors and sex for pay against the Tanzanians and that a response team had been sent to investigate. The UN said it would provide medical and psycho-social support to victims.

Dujarric said it was impossible to say whether more allegations against the Tanzanian contingent could surface. But he encouraged anyone who had information about alleged abuses to come forward.

The 20,000-strong Congo peacekeeping mission began in 1999. The conflict there is a spillover from the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda. Hundreds of Hutus who participated in the mass slaughter escaped into Congo and still fight in the mineral-rich and volatile east, along with other armed groups.

Associated Press and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/05/un-sex-abuse-scandal-11-peacekeepers-face-paternity-claims-in-dr-congo

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