UN Neglected Child Abuse Claims for Months

UN Neglected Child Abuse Claims for MonthsUN Neglected Child Abuse Claims for Months

For months, the UN’s top human rights officials knew about allegations of child sexual abuse by French soldiers in Central African Republic, collected by their own staff. But they didn’t follow up because they assumed French authorities were handling it, statements marked “strictly confidential” show, even as France pressed the UN for more information about the case.

The deputy high commissioner for human rights also said that her colleague who first informed French authorities last July did it because he didn’t think the recently created UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic would act on the allegations, AP reported.

A year after the UN first heard allegations from children as young as nine that French soldiers had sexually abused them, sometimes in exchange for food, it seems that the only person who has been punished is the UN staffer who told French authorities.

The deputy high commissioner, Flavia Pansieri, said she was distracted from the case by other issues, including budget cuts, from last fall until early March, when her boss, the high commissioner, brought up the case.

The Paris prosecutor’s office, however, blamed the UN “hierarchy” for taking more than six months to supply answers to its questions. The UN finally handed over written answers on April 29, the Paris prosecutor’s office said, the same day that the Guardian newspaper first made the French and UN inquiries public.