A new UN report says 69 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse were reported in 10 peacekeeping missions in 2015 and calls for on-site court-martials of alleged perpetrators and DNA testing
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report, obtained Thursday, for the first time provides the names of all countries whose troops are allegedly involved. The allegations will be posted online and updated with the progress and outcome of investigations.
The 69 allegations reported last year were a marked increase from the 52 in 2014, and higher than the 66 in 2013, the report said.
Nearly one-third of the 2015 allegations - 22 - are from the UN mission in the Central African Republic, which has made headlines over reports of some peacekeepers sent to protect civilians instead trading sex for money and sexually abusing minors.
The UN has been under pressure to act more quickly in tackling sexual exploitation and abuse after an independent panel in December described the world body’s “gross institutional failure” in handling allegations against French and other peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. That report said the months-long delay in addressing children’s accounts of abuse had led to even more reported assaults.
Peacekeeping sexual abuse and exploitation has been one of the most persistent and embarrassing problems for the UN and its member nations. Over 100,000 peacekeepers serve in some of the world’s most volatile and poverty-stricken areas, and many victims are children and women trying to feed their families.
Often no one is punished because peacekeepers come under the legal jurisdiction of their home countries.
In his report, the secretary-general urges the General Assembly to consider an international convention on “crimes committed in peacekeeping operations” and to update national laws to ensure they apply to sex crimes committed by their citizens serving in UN peace operations.
Ban also urges the assembly “to establish on-site court martial proceedings ... when allegations amount to sex crimes under national legislation.”
The secretary-general called on member states to obtain DNA samples of those alleged to have committed sexual exploitation and abuse.
Ban said the UN is establishing a trust fund to support “specialised services” required by victims of sex crimes.
After the Central African Republic, the second highest number of abuse allegations was at UN peacekeeping mission in Congo with 16 cases. It was followed by the Haiti mission with nine allegations, Liberia and Ivory Coast, each with six allegations, Mali with five, and Abyei and Cyprus with one each. The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur had two allegations and the now-closed mission in East Timor had one.
Of the 69 allegations in 2015, the report said 38 involved military personnel, 16 involved international police, and 15 involved U.N. staff or volunteers.
It said 23 allegations involved sexual activity with minors and 15 involved non-consensual sex with people over the age of 18. Paternity claims were associated with 15 allegations.