Friday, May 1, 2015

Central Africa: the French army threatened a scandal … – Martinique

The French army, accustomed to interventions in Africa, faces a potentially devastating scandal following allegations of child soldiers who raped them during the operation Sangaris in 2014 in Central Africa.

“If some soldiers behaved badly, I will be relentless,” responded President Francois Hollande on Thursday, while the Defence Ministry and the Army defensively, have made many statements to highlight want nothing to hide.

The detailed testimonies of children, contained in a UN report cover a period from December 2013 to June 2014 and justified the opening of a preliminary investigation in July 2014 in Paris remained secret until an article in the British newspaper The Guardian revealed on Wednesday case.

Thursday, a French judicial source said 14 French soldiers were in question and that “very few” were identified by the investigation is still ongoing.

According to the American NGO Aids-Free World, three soldiers from Chad and Equatorial Guinea two are also accused in a UN report of sexual abuse of children in CAR .

In Bangui, the public prosecutor, Ghislain Grésenguet regretted not having been informed of this case “extremely serious” and the opening of investigations: “The NGOs and UN bodies took the field without informing us, we do not understand why, “he he said, specifying that he” immediately “opened an investigation.

It was in July 2014 that the French Ministry of Defence receives a report by the staff of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN positioned in Central Africa, where the French army is deployed as part of the Sangaris operation, intended to prevent a civil war: a dozen children – the youngest is nine years – claim that in exchange for food or threat, French soldiers have abused them sexually.

These testimonies “recount the facts allegedly committed on ten children, at the site of M’Poko airport (Bangui), between December 2013 and June 2014, “said Wednesday the Ministry of Defence, ensuring having” taken all necessary measures to enable the establishment of the truth “

p class =>. “- ‘Double crime’ –

Aware of the seriousness of the charges and their reach, the ministry said that “if the facts were proven, it will ensure that the strongest possible sanctions be imposed against officials what would be an intolerable affront to the values ​​of the soldier. ”

Thursday, he said, speaking through his spokesman Pierre Bayle, that “reality checking” accusations and assured he had “no desire to hide anything whether (…) The zero indulgence does mean that such fact is not covered. We’re not trying to hide the facts, we are currently checking the facts. “

The Ministry of Defence said it had seized as soon as he was alerted by the UN report, the Paris Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation. Members of the provost gendarmerie, composed of military and judicial powers have placed under the control of the prosecutor of Paris, left the first time in August 2014 in Central Africa to begin their investigation there. They have since returned to continue.

The charges were revealed Wednesday by the British newspaper The Guardian, in which the co-director of the American NGO Aids-Free World, Paula Donovan, communicated the report.

The document gathers the testimonies of six children aged 9 to 15 years, considered very credible. The French soldiers were exchanged for food and sometimes small sums of money, against sexual favors.

“The children testified that they were hungry and they thought they could get food to the soldiers,” told AFP Ms. Donovan. The response of the soldiers was “if you do that, then I’ll give you to eat.”

Some say they have been raped, abused and other others claim to have witnessed the rape of their comrades. Some have been able to give of their alleged attackers an accurate description, other nicknames.

Asked Thursday morning, the French Secretary of State in charge of Family, Laurence Rossignol, said that it was, if true, of “extremely facts serious. ” Those who are there to protect, especially women and children, “would themselves from predators. From one point of view it is a double crime.”

Anders Kompass, Director of Field Operations at the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which forwarded it to Paris the report “Sexual abuse of children by forces international military “did in reaction to what he considered to be the inaction of the UN on this issue. He has since been suspended from duty and is the subject of an internal investigation.


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