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UN troops tried for CAR sex abuse

BBC News BBC News 5/04/2016
UN peacekeepers patrol in their armoured personnel carriers (APC) along a street during the presidential election in the mainly Muslim PK-5 neighbourhood in Bangui CAR: There have been repeated allegations of child sex abuse by international troops in CAR © Reuters There have been repeated allegations of child sex abuse by international troops in CAR

Three UN peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse in Central African Republic (CAR) have gone on trial in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Members of the anti-Balaka Christian militia search a vehicle at a check-point in Pissa, 70 km south of Bangui, on March 3, 2014: The CAR conflict raise fears of a genocide © AFP The CAR conflict raise fears of a genocide

Two of the Congolese troops denied charges of raping minors, while a third denied a charge of attempted rape, the prosecutor said.

Photo taken on March 7, 2014 shows a mosque reportedly destroyed by Anti-balaka Christian militias in Boyobane, about 27km from Bozoum: It caused widespread destruction, with places of worship also targeted © AFP It caused widespread destruction, with places of worship also targeted

More than 100 people have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse by UN and French forces in CAR.

French prosecutors have opened a new enquiry into the case, AFP reports.

The troops were deployed to end conflict which broke out in 2013.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said he was "shocked to the core" by the latest allegations, which include bestiality.

More on this and other African stories

Living under a shadow of fear in CAR

The Congolese troops appeared before a military tribunal in Ndolo, a prison north of the capital Kinshasa, on Monday, AFP news agency reports.

The trial was a "a good step to end impunity" among peacekeepers, said Ida Sawyer, an advocate for campaign group Human Rights Watch.

Twenty-one Congolese peacekeepers are accused of sexual abuse in CAR. They are being tried in groups of three and this is the second such trial.

Meanwhile, Tanzanian peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse in DR Congo have been hit with paternity claims from alleged victims, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Associated Press news agency reports.

The Tanzanian peacekeepers were being investigated following allegations that they had sex with minors, and paid for sex.

The troops were part of an elite force which had the rare mandate of launching offensive action against rebel groups in the mostly lawless eastern DR Congo.

Mr Dujarric said the 11 included four from the mission's current deployment and seven from a previous contingent, AP reports.

In CAR, one advocacy group said last week it had passed on new reports to the UN that a French commander made four girls have sex with a dog.

The UN said it was investigating 108 new reports of abuse in the country.

Last year, there were 69 allegations of child rape and other sexual offences by peacekeepers from 10 missions.

Forces were deployed in 2014 to help restore order in CAR after the president was overthrown the previous year and sectarian violence gripped the country.

In early March, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for the repatriation of peacekeeping units whose soldiers face allegations of sexual abuse.

Last August, the UN envoy to CAR, Babacar Gaye, was sacked amid multiple allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers.

An independent panel called the UN response to the allegations "seriously flawed" and a "gross institutional failure".

It accused senior UN officials of abusing their authority by failing to take action over allegations of abuse by soldiers from France, Equatorial Guinea and Chad.

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