Greg Daniels, ‘Gross institutional failure’ by UN on child sex abuse case, Waltonian

“Information about the allegations was passed from desk to desk, inbox to inbox, across multiple United Nations offices, with no one willing to take responsibility to address the serious human rights violations”.

Four French soldiers are being questioned in an investigation into alleged child sexual abuse in vehicle.

Ban Ki-moon’s statement comes in response to the publication of the panel’s review on Thursday. It was the first time in UN’s 70-year history that finance ministers huddled in the Security Council, an event UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “historic” in his remarks.

In the spring of 2014, allegations came to light that worldwide troops serving as peacekeepers in auto had sexually abused a number of young children in exchange for food or money. Given the gravity of these findings, Ban said he would act quickly to determine what action might be necessary.

Ban’s special envoy for children in conflict, Leila Zerrougi, was harshly criticized in the report, which said she “took no steps” to follow up on the allegations with UNICEF and France until they were reported in the media. He said he accepted the panel’s broad findings.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said on Twitter that the “UN has failed to protect most vulnerable – this is unacceptable”.

United Nations officials are quick to note that the organization has a policy of “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse and exploitation by staff or peacekeepers, but continued allegations in the C.A.R. mission over the past year expose the flaws in implementing this policy.

However, the review panel said actions taken by High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein and Peacekeeping Chief Hervé Ladsous after they learned of the allegations did not constitute abuse of their authority. Neither of them was available for comment, and it was not immediately clear where they were. This in no way diminishes the responsibility of the United Nations to speak out when other troops commit violations.

UNICEF, the United Nations children’s fund, provided inadequate trauma support to the alleged child victims after the allegations surfaced, offering only a two-hour counselling session by a local organisation, it said. The panel found that Kompass “did not act outside of his authority”.

The panel report criticised the United Nations for investigating Kompass over the leak rather than focusing on the abuse charges themselves.

While the panel concluded there was no abuse of office by those senior officials, it said the head of the internal oversight office who has since retired, Carman Lapointe, “failed to meet her duty” to carefully review the facts before launching an investigation.

The allegations of abuse were brought forward by 10 children and allegedly took place in a centre for displaced people near Bangui airport between December 2013 and June 2014. It started withdrawing some of its 2000 troops this year, handing over to United Nations peacekeepers.

Full article with links: