(BRUSSELS2) The scandal of possible sexual abuse of minors by French soldiers could go beyond the sole framework of Operation Sangaris (led nationally by France) and also affect the European operation EUFOR RCA, if we believe the latest information.
According to a witness to the sexual violence who confided in the correspondent of France Info today in Bangui, Antony Fouchard, on the M'Poko camp (1), Georgian soldiers stationed at the airport would also be involved. "The French, the Georgians, when the children come like that to ask for a little food, 'before you have to suck me first..."says a man named Jean, who lives in a tent near the road. "It was at night, the French soldiers gave ration packets to the children and they raped them. And the Georgian soldiers, they were three on a sixteen-year-old girl at the entrance to the airport".
NB: The Georgian soldiers were then under European mandate, providing security and guarding the airport on behalf of EUFOR RCA. However, they only arrived in mid-June, according to our information (read: They left !), or at the end of the period mentioned in the UN report.
An internal UN report
The whole affair was revealed by The Guardian Wednesday (April 29). The British daily reveals that an internal report was written by the UN in 2014 reporting sexual abuse (sodomy, rape, etc.) by peacekeepers. The British daily only implicates French soldiers. But it seems that the problem is broader. Entitled "Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces", documents cases of sexual exploitation of children - some as young as 9 - committed in the M'Poko airport refugee camp between December 2013 and June 2014 , when MINUSCA was set up and follows interviews with abused children conducted between May and June 2014 by a staff member from BINUCA (United Nations Integrated Office in the Central African Republic) and a UNICEF specialist.
Marked "confidential", this report should have remained internal. But it was transmitted to the French authorities by the director of operations of the High Commission for Human Rights, the Swede Anders Kompass, because of " the inability of the UN to take action to stop the abuses mentions the daily. Kompass had been warned that the abuse was continuing. He has now been sanctioned by the UN for violating confidentiality rules (2). The report was revealed to the Guardian by the American NGO, Aids Free World
An investigation by the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office still in progress
The French Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs have confirmed, for their part, that they have been seized at the end of July 2014 of testimonies from Central African children accusing French soldiers of Operation Sangaris of sexual assault ". The ministry recognizes the detailed nature of the testimonies and the extreme seriousness of the facts alleged “, and claims to have wanted” all the necessary measures so that the facts and any criminal and disciplinary responsibilities can be established as quickly as possible.. Thereby, " the same day of receipt of the report”, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, "the Minister of Defense seized the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office on the basis of Article 40 of the Code of Criminal Procedure".
Two surveys conducted
The Paris Public Prosecutor's Office was able to open " immediately a preliminary investigation " who is " ongoing continues the French press release. This preliminary investigation was entrusted to the command of the Provost Gendarmerie” (military). Gendarmes “went to the Central African Republic, from August 1 (2014), to begin the investigations”. Furthermore, a " command investigation was immediately conducted ". She " will be forwarded to the Public Prosecutor's Office upon request », Specifies the ministry.
Investigations on the European side as well
On the European side, we "discover" these facts as entrusted to B2 by a European source familiar with these subjects. Of the " extensive investigations " are going " obviously " be conducted. Because these are questions to which great importance is attached. The search for truth » is essential. The Georgians have particularly involved in the European mission she adds. An indisputable point. If the European operation could not be put in place, it is only thanks to the Georgian company which deployed mainly around M'Poko airport.
According to sources interviewed by B2 who were able to carefully consult the report, the series of interviews conducted by UN agents with the children concerned “ do not involve Georgian soldiers ("I can confirm that this series of interviews with children taken by the UN does not implicate Georgian soldiers"). On the other hand, according to this report, in addition to the French soldiers, soldiers from Equatorial Guinea and Chad would be involved.
NB: This absence in the report does not mean that abuses were not committed after the reporting period. See the testimony collected by France-Info. Nor does it mean that the facts are proven. Because the testimonies do not come from the victims themselves (as in the report).
(1) The M'Poko camp - located very close to the airport - was partly under the control of anti-balaka militias. Moreover, the manipulation of children (or women) by the various forces present in the capital, in particular to provoke unrest, is commonplace.
(2) The arguments of the UN to justify this sanction seem contradictory. The nature of the abuses in question requires everyone to take legal action (it even applies to people protected by the law in an almost absolute way: medical personnel). What the person concerned simply did.