Child and adult abuse allegedly committed by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic may have taken place on a much wider scale than previously thought, a local NGO believes. The republic’s president has urged France to ensure justice is done.
An NGO based in CAR capital Bangui, believes the sexual crimes committed by French troops could number more than 100, far more than “a dozen” of officially recognized cases.
Sputnik also interviewed two of the girls who accuse French troops of abuse.
“I was 13 at the time,” one of the victims, identified as Yasinthe, said. “I sold oranges and French troops asked me to a room at their base. When I entered it, one of them jumped on me and raped me.
“There was nothing I could do,” she said, adding that no apology or compensation from the French military authorities followed.
Another girl, Barbara, who was 15 at the time she was assaulted, said she was forced into an armored vehicle and “raped right there,” adding that there are presumably many more victims who are afraid of telling their stories.
French peacekeeping troops allegedly assaulted children who knew the rapists in person or trusted them to a certain extent, the Yamacuir officer said.
“I know children who socialized with French troops because they played football and volleyball with the kids. That’s when most of the rapes happened.”
Throughout the past months, reports of child rape and other sex-related crimes committed by international peacekeepers in the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR) have cast a shadow on the legitimacy of the military efforts to bring peace to one of the poorest countries on the continent.
French peacekeepers have been accused of committing appalling acts. In April, the ‘Code Blue’ campaign by AIDS-Free World published a shocking report saying that four girls “were tied up and undressed inside a camp by a military commander from the Sangaris (French force) and forced to have sex with a dog,” with the girls then reportedly paid 5,000 Central African Francs (US$9) each.
Last year, five soldiers from the French peacekeeping contingent were questioned and given disciplinary penalties. However, activists in the Central African Republic believe the number of cases of abuse involving French troops is much higher than the “dozen” that have been officially acknowledged.
The republic’s president has urged France to do more to prosecute those culpable.
“France should serve justice,” Faustin-Archange Touadera, CAR president, said in an interview with Sputnik. “For us and the victims this is taking a long time, but we hope that when everything is finished, sanctions will follow. The people are waiting for this, especially those who have suffered.”
Two years have now passed since the first rape allegations emerged in 2014, but no one has been brought to justice so far, despite the French government’s assurances of a zero-tolerance policy towards such crimes.
Earlier this year, French President Francois Hollande, who decided to deploy troops to France’s former colony as part of Operation Sangaris in 2013, said: “I’ll be relentless regarding any misconduct in the Central African Republic if it is confirmed.”
Central Africa – Suspected Christian Militia Kill Two Moroccan Peace Keepers
Bangui – Two United Nation Peace-Keepers in Central Africa Republic, from Morocco has been killed by suspected Christian Militia. The mission said this is the second deadly attack on Moroccan forces this week.
The peacekeepers were ambushed by suspected anti-balaka fighters in the town of Banagassou, 700 kilometers (435 miles) east of the capital Bangui, as they stocked up on water to deliver to the population, the mission said in a statement.
Thousands have died in an ethnic and religious conflict that broke out when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.
Tuesday’s raid, which injured a third soldier, followed similar attacks by suspected anti-balaka fighters in the diamond-mining town in recent days, including one on Sunday that killed a Moroccan peacekeeper and left three others wounded.
The violence has prompted several humanitarian organizations to suspend their activities in Bangassou, where fighting in May killed at least 115 people.
It also points to the inability of the 13,000-strong U.N. force to contain violence in a country where government control barely extends outside the capital.
“I am shocked by these new losses of human life and I firmly condemn this flagrant violation of the right to life and of international law,” mission chief Parfait Onanga-Anyanga said in the statement.
Violence has escalated in Central African Republic since former colonial power France ended its peacekeeping mission in the country last year, and despite a peace deal signed between the government and rival factions in Rome last month.
Chad – Fight Against Boko Haram, The Joint Multinational Force Gets A New Commander
Several times commander in the military operations against Boko Haram, Major General Leo Irabor is a man full of experiences in the fight against terrorism
Nigeria’s Leo Irabor has replaced his compatriot Lo Adeosun as head of the Mixed Multinational Force (FMM) command. The official change of command ceremony was chaired by the Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), FMM Head of Mission Sanusi Imran Abdullahi, on Saturday, 08 July 2017, at the Headquarters of the Force in N’Djamena.
Several times commander in the military operations against Boko Haram in Nigeria and in the border countries, Major General Leo Irabor is a man full of experiences in the fight against terrorism. His appointment comes within the framework of the strategies adopted by the Nigerian army in the fight against Boko Haram where several officers were appointed and assigned to military operations nationally and internationally. Major General Leo Irabo is the fourth commander of the FMM since his installation in Chad.
Founded in 2015, the FMM has genuinely entered into action only from February 2016 when the first major operations were carried out to fight Boko Haram. At least four of them can be mentioned: that of 11 to 14 February 2016 in the Nigerian city of Ngoshe; The 24 February attack in the town of Kumshe in Nigeria near the Cameroon border considered as a rear base of Boko Haram; That of 16 March 2016 in the Cameroonian and Nigerian communities of Djibril and Zamga; And from 10 to 16 March 2016 in the Madawya Forest in Nigeria. Through its presence and actions, the FMM has contributed to a relative improvement in the security situation in the localities around Lake Chad.
Tens of thousands flee eastern Central African Republic
The rise in sudden attacks since June has resulted in more than 40,000 people leaving their homes in the eastern province of Haute-Kotto. Due to the ongoing conflict between armed groups in the region’s capital, Bria, the area has been mostly emptied.
Reports from humanitarian group the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) state that there are now in total 100,000 refugees in the eastern part of the country. The mining town of Bria has lost almost 90% of its population because of death and displacement.
One refugee, Fatimatou Sai, states, “We are worried about the situation in the city, and we call the humanitarian community to support the organisations already in the area to assist us.”
A NRC staff member describes the current condition of refugees. “Those 43,000 displaced persons live in dire conditions since the beginning of this crisis. Lack of access to health services, drinking water and adequate shelters are some of the issues that worsened with the conflict”
CAR is one of the poorest nations in the world and this current conflict has been ongoing since 2013. The main armed groups involved are the Seleka rebels and the Anti-Balaka militia.
According to the UN’s refugee agency there are over half a million displaced people in the entire country.
Central Africa – A Ghastly Road Traffic Accident Has Claimed The Lives Of 78 People, While 72 Sustained Injuries.
About 78 passengers were reportedly killed when a luxurious Bus Tipped over in Maloun Central Africa Republic. According to Dr Chamberlain Bama, who is The Medical Director at the University Hospital In Bambari where most of the victims were rushed to, the accident happened in a very remote area in central Africa Republic.
“For mow, 78 bodies have been confirmed dead, while 72 others sustained varying degrees of injury. A number of the wounded persons were taken home by their relatives from the site where the accident occurred and they died later, while most others died here in the hospital,” said Dr Chamberlain.
The Mayor of Bambari, Abel Matchipata, while speaking to reporters, said “the accident involved a 10 wheel vehicle that was commuting people and goods thro and fro a weekly market in Maloun. The vehicle tipped over with everything in It.
There are speculations that the accident might have been as a result of technical faults on the vehicle due to overloading. Meanwhile, an investigation to ascertain the cause of the accident has been opened” Abel said.
Central Africa Diamond Audit Suggest New Possibilities
A request for proposals was issued on Monday for the audit of rough diamond stockpiles in the rehabilitating CAR.
A requirement is that it must be done in accordance with criteria set forth in the Kimberley Process’ operational framework agreement as well as the administrative annex on resumption of exports from CAR.
The selected auditor will be expected to report to the Kimberley Process’ monitoring team on results in a written report.
Proposals must be sent to the Administrative Support Mechanism of the Kimberley Process at focalpointASM@kimberleyprocess.com before January 15 next year.
The United Nations had reported that landlocked CAR has for years experienced one of the most silent and forgotten emergencies in the world.
The government has had little presence or control outside the capital after years of instability and a history of frequent coups and mutinies.
CAR’s recent history of conflict has seen ongoing mistrust between religious communities.
The French forces that have helped to stabilize the war-torn region are steadily departing.
C.A.R – Amnesty International And Human Right Watch, Calls For Setting Up Of Special Criminal Court
Nearly a year after elected institutions were installed in the Central African Republic (CAR), armed groups continue to sow death in the country, despite relative stabilization of the capital, Bangui. Seleka and Antibalaka militia, no doubt encouraged by the total impunity they have so far enjoyed, do not seem ready to put down their weapons. In two separate reports, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch call for the rapid setting up of the Special Criminal Court provided for in a law of 2015.
Out of a population of 4.6 million, “an estimated 467,800 people, the majority of them Muslim, remained refugees in neighboring countries and a further 384,300 remained internally displaced”, it continues. Human Rights Watch further stresses that the 10,000 UN peacekeepers and 2,000 police deployed across the country have not managed to restore peace and sufficiently protect civilians. It regrets that the efforts of the UN mission in the CAR have been marred with allegations that some of its peacekeepers exploited and sexually abused civilians, including children.
“Impunity for past abuses and war crimes remained pervasive,” the organization says, and progress toward the functioning of a Special Criminal Court in the national justice system has been slow. The report also notes that while the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has continued her investigations, opened in September 2014, into suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the country since August 2012, no arrest warrant has yet been issued.
The law on creation of a Special Criminal Court within the national justice system was published in June 2015 by the CAR’s transitional president Catherine Samba-Panza. This court is meant to complement the work of the ICC, to which Samba-Panza’s government referred the situation in the CAR from August 2012. The Special Court is to be made up of national and international judges and staff, and is mandated to investigate and prosecute grave violations of human rights committed in the CAR since 2003.
“Impunity on a staggering scale”
Human Rights Watch’s concerns are shared by Amnesty International. “Thousands of victims of human rights abuses across CAR are still waiting for justice to be served, while individuals who have committed horrific crimes like murder and rape roam free,” says Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Central Africa Researcher, in a report published on January 11. “This is impunity on a staggering scale, and it is undermining efforts to rebuild CAR and create a sustainable peace.”
“The only long-term solution to this entrenched impunity is the comprehensive overhaul of CAR’s national justice system, including by rebuilding its courts, prisons and police force,” she continues. “In the meantime, sustainable funding for the Special Criminal Court, including robust witness protection programmes, is an essential step towards justice.”
At the last donor conference in Brussels at the end of November, the new CAR government of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra presented a national reconstruction and peacebuilding plan, including a request for 105 million dollars to strengthen the judicial system and make the Special Criminal Court (SCC) operational.
While $5 million of the $7 million required for the first 14 months of operations has been secured, more needs to be done to ensure sustainable support for the first five years of the court’s operation, says Amnesty International.
“The SCC is essential to ensure that victims of some of the conflict’s most serious crimes will have a chance to see justice done in CAR, and should be given every support,” insists AI’s Ilaria Allegrozzi.
The setting up of this Special Criminal Court will also depend on the political will of the CAR government, but people are less and less convinced nationally and internationally that the new CAR authorities will make it one of their priorities. In an interview with JusticeInfo last August, French jurist Didier Niewiadowski, a former advisor at the French embassy in Bangui (2008-2012), expressed the view that the new government in CAR had swept transitional justice under the carpet. He cited the provisional release of former Defence Minister Jean-Francis Bozizé (son of ex-president Bozizé) who is nevertheless under an international arrest warrant, and the fact that ex-Seleka war criminals also targeted by arrest warrants are still roaming free.
Seleka is a coalition of rebels who chased President François Bozizé from power in March 2013. The Seleka rebels, who committed many serious abuses against civilians, were fought by Antibalaka self-defence militia, who also committed violent acts against the population.
ouham-pende: Rebel Leader Sidicki Took Over
After KOUI, DANKOURI, and other cities and villages where they have spread death and destruction; since Yesterday, barely 50 men heavily armed of cameroonian rebel
Aboubakar SIDIKI stormed the city of N’DJIM, located at some 37km of Bocaranga.
More plus today, with continued reinforcements coming from the zone of KOUI.
So as we can guess, affected populations fled to the surrounding bush.
J.D – LNC
CAR: Schools remain idle one month after resumption
Most schools in the Central African Republic have been idle more than a month after the official resumption of classes.
Some students resumed school on September 119,but a few of them remains desperate. They attribute the problem to insecurity which persists in some provinces, and in some districts of the capital Bangui, as reported by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator.
“It has always been a problem of “occupied schools; a dozen schools occupied by the armed groups. And here we are working with the Minusca to do our best and resume educational activities in these schools,” said Fabrizio Hochschild, UN-Humanitarian Coordinator.
It has always been a problem of “occupied schools; a dozen schools occupied by the armed groups.
Violence erupted in the beginning of the month at the UN Center the PK 5 district following the death of an army officer.
The capital, Bangui has been the center of the problem since the schools resumed especially in the interior of the country. Africanews Correspondent in Senegal said some teachers have difficulty in doing their work .
A school, Sekia Dale located 22 km from the capital, Bangui, has been occupied by armed groups, which recently evacuated. A single class room is functional, with two teachers.
Teachers are forced to make do with what they have, But a month after the resumption of the school year, they admit they have nothing much to work with and call for help.
“We have a problem of classes; we do not have enough tables and benches. The workforce has reduced, and we have a problem of teachers. For a complete period, we are only two.So the work is really much. We hope that the government sends us at least 3 teachers. At least one teacher per class, the work can then operate smoothly. But a teacher for two classes, it is a sloppy job” said Thierno ouronfei, principal of Sekia Dale School.
The Central African Republic is recovering from three years of crisis that have pushed many schools to close down.
One of the pressing challenges of the new President Anchange Michel Touadera, a teacher by profession, is to put a generation of Central African Republic on the path of education.