France to 'shed full light' on claims of sex abuse by troops
France is determined to "shed full light" on allegations that its troops sexually abused girls in the Central African Republic, the ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday.
"These allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse are sickening and odious," French Ambassador Francois Delattre said in a statement, expressing "profound indignation and anger" at the new cases.
UN teams sent to the restive country over the last two weeks received accounts that troops from France's Sangaris mission forced girls to engage in bestiality in return for small amounts of money.
"The French authorities are determined to shed full light on these grave allegations, in cooperation with the United Nations and the Central African Republic," said Delattre.
"It's clear that if the facts were proven, exemplary disciplinary action will be imposed, in addition to the criminal response," he added.
UN officials this week notified French authorities of the allegations that date back to 2014.
Delattre said the information was handed over to French justice officials who are conducting an ongoing criminal investigation following previous similar allegations.
AIDS-Free World, a civil society group that tracks peacekeeper sex abuse cases, said three girls told a UN rights officer that in 2014 they were tied up and undressed by a Sangaris commander inside a camp and forced to have sex with a dog.
France sent its Sangaris intervention force to the Central African Republic in December 2013 and while the troops are not part of the UN peacekeeping mission, they have been mandated by the Security Council to help restore peace to the country.
Aside from the French troops, the latest allegations also implicate UN peacekeepers from Burundi and Gabon serving in the MINUSCA force, which has been hit by a wave of claims of sex abuse.
The UN Security Council was due to hear a report on the latest reported abuses during a closed-door meeting later in the day.
© 2016 AFP