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UN accused of covering up report into alleged sex abuse by French troops

Miguel Medina, AFP | A French soldier on patrol in the Central African Republic

According to a report in the Guardian newspaper Wednesday, the UN has suspended a senior aid worker who leaked a report detailing sexual abuse of children by French peacekeepers serving in the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR) last year.

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The whistleblower, Geneva-based Director of Field Operations Anders Kompass, is under investigation for leaking the report amid warnings from senior UN officials that access to his case must be “severely restricted”, according to the Guardian.

The alleged abuses took place in 2014 when the UN MINUSCA mission to CAR was being set up.

Entitled “Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces” and stamped “Confidential” on every page, the report obtained by The Guardian details allegations of “rape and sodomy” of starving and homeless young boys by French peacekeeping troops at a centre for internally displaced people in the CAR capital of Bangui.

The report includes interviews with the children that were carried out between May and June last year by a member of staff from the office for the UN high commissioner of human rights and a UNICEF specialist.

The boys claim they were sexually exploited in return for money and food between December 2013 and June 2014 by French troops.

According to the Guardian, the report was passed to officials within the office for the high commission of human rights in Geneva in 2014.

But a lack of meaningful progress and continued secrecy frustrated Kompass, who decided to leak the report.

Kompass, who has been working with the United Nations for 30 years, is believed to have passed details of the investigation to the French authorities as well as to the Guardian.

Responding to the Guardian report, a spokesman for France’s justice ministry confirmed that a French prosecutor had been investigating the allegations since July 2014.

“The investigation is ongoing,” the spokesman told Reuters, declining to give further details.

There was no immediate comment from the United Nations.

 

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