UN chief orders review of handling of claims of child abuse by French soldiers
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has made a dramatic intervention in the scandal of French peacekeepers allegedly abusing children in Africa by announcing an independent external review of how his organisation handled the affair.
The move is the first public intervention by the secretary general into what has become a growing controversy for the UN. Pressure is growing on the organisation and on the French authorities to explain when and how they reacted to revelations by children in Central African Republic last year that they were being sexually exploited by French soldiers at a camp for internally displaced people.
In April the a senior UN official, Anders Kompass, had been suspended for disclosing an internal report on the alleged abuse to French prosecutors. Documents released last week, including a statement from Kompass, stated his position that he had passed the report to the French because he was concerned the UN would do nothing to stop the abuse. He has been reinstated but is still under internal investigation and could be dismissed.
Yesterday (Wednesday), as the row over the scandal continued, Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN chief, announced there would be an external inquiry into the whole affair.
“His [the secretary general’s] intention in setting up this review is to ensure that the United Nations does not fail the victims of sexual abuse, especially when committed by those who are meant to protect them,” he said. “There are systems that failed here. This was not handled in the way that the secretary general would want it to be handled.”
Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman said the review would examine the treatment of the specific report of abuse in the Central African Republic, as well as a broad range of systemic issues related to how the UN responds to serious information of this kind.