Western values: French troops rape and sexually abuse children

 “The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations’ appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn’t uncommon. The UN’s instinctive response to sexual violence in its ranks – ignore, deny, cover up, dissemble – must be subjected to a truly independent commission of inquiry with total access, top to bottom, and full subpoena power.” — Paula Donovan, co-director of Aids Free World

From the Guardian, April 29, 2015
Sandra Laville

A senior United Nations aid worker has been suspended for disclosing to prosecutors an internal report on the sexual abuse of children by French peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic.

Sources close to the case said Anders Kompass passed the document to the French authorities because of the UN’s failure to take action to stop the abuse. The report documented the sexual exploitation of children as young as nine by French troops stationed in the country as part of international peacekeeping efforts.

Kompass, who is based in Geneva, was suspended from his post as director of field operations last week and accused of leaking a confidential UN report and breaching protocols. He is under investigation by the UN office for internal oversight service (OIOS) amid warnings from a senior official that access to his case must be “severely restricted”. He faces dismissal.

The treatment of the aid worker, who has been involved in humanitarian work for more than 30 years, has taken place with the knowledge of senior UN officials, including Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, and Susanna Malcorra, chef de cabinet in the UN, according to documents relating to the case.

Related: France’s poisoned legacy in the Central African Republic The abuses took place in 2014 when the UN mission in the country, Minusca, was in the process of being set up.

The Guardian has been passed the internal report on the sexual exploitation by Paula Donovan, of the advocacy group Aids Free World, who is demanding an independent commission inquiry into the UN’s handling of sexual abuse by peacekeepers.

It was commissioned by the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights after reports on the ground that children, who are among the tens of thousands displaced by the fighting, were being sexually abused.

Entitled Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces and stamped “confidential” on every page, the report details the rape and sodomy of starving and homeless young boys by French peacekeeping troops who were supposed to be protecting them at a centre for internally displaced people in Bangui, capital of the CAR.

Donovan, the co-director of Aids Free World. said: “The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations’ appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn’t uncommon. The UN’s instinctive response to sexual violence in its ranks – ignore, deny, cover up, dissemble – must be subjected to a truly independent commission of inquiry with total access, top to bottom, and full subpoena power.”

The UN has faced several scandals in the past relating to its failure to act over paedophile rings operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo and Bosnia. It has also faced allegations of sexual misconduct by its troops in Haiti, Burundi and Liberia.

The treatment of Kompass, a Swedish national, threatens to spark a major diplomatic row.

This month, the Swedish ambassador to the United Nations warned senior UN officials “it would not be a good thing if the high commissioner for human rights forced” Kompass to resign. The ambassador threatened to go public if that happened and to engage in a potentially ugly and harmful debate.

The abuses detailed in the internal report took place before and after Minusca was set up last year. Interviews with the abused children were carried out between May and June last year by a member of staff from the office for the high commissioner of human rights and a Unicef specialist. The children identified represent just a snapshot of the numbers potentially being abused.

Related: Sex abuse poses ‘significant risk’ to UN peacekeeping, says leaked report The boys, some of whom were orphans, disclosed sexual exploitation, including rape and sodomy, between December 2013 and June 2014 by French troops at a centre for internally displaced people at M’Poko airport in the capital Bangui.

The children described how they were sexually exploited in return for food and money. One 11-year-old boy said he was abused when he went out looking for food. A nine-year-old described being sexually abused with his friend by two French soldiers at the IDP camp when they went to a checkpoint to look for something to eat.

The child described how the soldiers forced him and his friend to carry out a sex act. The report describes how distressed the child was when disclosing the abuse and how he fled the camp in terror after the assault. Some of the children were able to give good descriptions of the soldiers involved.

In summer 2014, the report was passed to officials within the office for the high commission of human rights in Geneva. When nothing happened, Kompass sent the report to the French authorities and they visited Bangui and began an investigation.

It is understood a more senior official was made aware of Kompass’s actions and raised no objections. But last month Kompass was called in and accused of breaching UN protocols by leaking details of a confidential report, according to sources.

Kompass’s emails have been seized as part of the investigation into the alleged leak. One senior UN official has said of Kompass that “it was his duty to know and comply” with UN protocols on confidential documents.

Bea Edwards, of the Government Accountability Project, an international charity that supports whistleblowers, condemned the UN for its witch-hunt against a whistleblower who had acted to stop the abuse of children.

“We have represented many whistleblowers in the UN system over the years and in general the more serious the disclosure they make the more ferocious the retaliation,” said Edwards. ”Despite the official rhetoric, there is very little commitment at the top of the organisation to protect whistleblowers and a strong tendency to politicise every issue no matter how urgent.”

UN sources confirmed an investigation by the French was ongoing – in cooperation with the UN – into allegations of a very serious nature against peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.

A spokesman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed an investigation was under way into the leaking of confidential information by a staff member.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/29/un-aid-worker-suspended-leaking-report-child-abuse-french-troops-car

Also:

http://rt.com/news/254205-french-soldiers-abuse-boys/

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U.S. standing alone against children, will not ratify convention on the rights of the child

By David Swanson, March 6, 2015
Posted on Let’s Try Democracy

Lawrence Wittner points out that the United States will soon be the only nation on earth that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

And why not? Wittner focuses on general backward stupidness: the treaty would “override” the Constitution or the importance of families or the rights of parents. He points out the treaty’s support for parents and families and the impossibility of overriding the Constitution — which we might note in any case says nothing on the subject.

Then Wittner mentions some more substantive reasons for opposition:

“… in fairness to the critics, it must be acknowledged that some current American laws do clash with the Convention’s child protection features. For example, in the United States, children under the age of 18 can be jailed for life, with no possibility of parole. Also, as Human Rights Watch notes, “exemptions in U.S. child labor laws allow children as young as 12 to be put to work in agriculture for long hours and under dangerous conditions.” Moreover, the treaty prohibits cruel and degrading punishment of children―a possible source of challenge to the one-third of U.S. states that still allow corporal punishment in their schools.”

That’s actually a pretty major in-fairness-to-the-critics point. The United States wants to maintain the ability to lock children in cages for the rest of their lives or to work them in the fields or to physically abuse them in school. In fact, the child prison industry is a major presence in the United States.

And there’s another industry that has a dog in this fight. The U.S. military openly recruits children.

And let’s not forget that there are children on the drone kill list and children who have been killed with drone strikes.

There are other nations that engage in some of these same abuses. Is it better to ratify a basic human rights treaty and violate it or to refuse to ratify it because you intend to act against it as a matter of principle?

I’m inclined to think the latter suggests the further remove from decent tendencies.

http://davidswanson.org/node/4691

UN Resolution 2131 — On the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty; Adopted by General Assembly, 21 December, 1965

United Nations A/RES/20/2131  

General Assembly

Distr: General 21 December 1965


Twentieth session
Agenda item 107

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly

 2131 (XX). Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty

The General Assembly,Deeply concerned at the gravity of the international situation and the increasing threat to universal peace due to armed intervention and other direct or indirect forms of interference threatening the sovereign personality and the political independence of States,

Considering that the United Nations, in accordance with their aim to eliminate war, threats to the peace and acts of aggression, created an Organization, based on the sovereign equality of States, whose friendly relations would be based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and on the obligation of its Members to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State,

Recognizing that, in fulfilment of the principle of self-determination, the General Assembly, in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples contained in resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, stated its conviction that all peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory, and that, by virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development,

Recalling that in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the General Assembly proclaimed that recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, without distinction of any kind,

Reaffirming the principle of non-intervention, proclaimed in the charters of the Organization of American States, the League of Arab States and the Organization of African Unity and affirmed at the conferences held at Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Chapultepec and Bogotá, as well as in the decisions of the Asian-African Conference at Bandung, the First Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries at Belgrade, in the Programme for Peace and International Cooperation adopted at the end of the Second Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries at Cairo, and in the declaration on subversion adopted at Accra by the Heads of State and Government of the African States,

Recognizing that full observance of the principle of the non-intervention of States in the internal and external affairs of other States is essential to the fulfilment of the purposes and principles of the United Nations,

Considering that armed intervention is synonymous with aggression and, as such, is contrary to the basic principles on which peaceful international cooperation between States should be built,

Considering further that direct intervention, subversion and all forms of indirect intervention are contrary to these principles and, consequently, constitute a violation of the Charter of the United Nations,

Mindful that violation of the principle of non-intervention poses a threat to the independence, freedom and normal political, economic, social and cultural development of countries, particularly those which have freed themselves from colonialism, and can pose a serious threat to the maintenance of peace,

Fully aware of the imperative need to create appropriate conditions which would enable all States, and in particular the developing countries, to choose without duress or coercion their own political, economic and social institutions,

In the light of the foregoing considerations, solemnly declares:

1.No State has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are condemned.

2.No State may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights or to secure from it advantages of any kind. Also, no State shall organize, assist, foment, Finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State.

3.The use of force to deprive peoples of their national identity constitutes a violation of their inalienable rights and of the principle of non-intervention.

4.The strict observance of these obligations is an essential condition to ensure that nations live together in peace with one another, since the practice of any form of intervention not only violates the spirit and letter of the Charter of the United Nations but also leads to the creation of situations which threaten international peace and security.

5.Every State has an inalienable right to choose its political, economic, social and cultural systems, without interference in any form by another State.

6.All States shall respect the right of self-determination and independence of peoples and nations, to be freely exercised without any foreign pressure, and with absolute respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Consequently, all States shall contribute to the complete elimination of racial discrimination and colonialism in all its forms and manifestations.

7.For the purpose of the present Declaration, the term “State” covers both individual States and groups of States.

8.Nothing in this Declaration shall be construed as affecting in any manner the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations relating to the maintenance of international peace and security, in particular those contained in Chapters VI, VII and VIII.

1408th plenary meeting
21 December 1965