UN Peacekeepers On Trial Over Sex Abuse

iolafr drc-car sex abuse caseKABUL: (MEP) The first group of soldiers accused of sex abuse in the Central African Republic (CAR) involving UN and French forces has faced charges at a trial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Monday.

The three Congolese men from the UN’s MINUSCA peacekeeping mission wore blue prison gear as they appeared before the tribunal in Ndolo, a military prison north of the capital Kinshasa.

Sergeant Major Kibeka Mulamba Djuma and Sergeant Jackson Kikola are being “prosecuted for raping a (young girl) of 17 and for not following orders,” public prosecutor Lieutenant Mposhi Ngoy said, reading the charges.

They are the first troops to be prosecuted in the scandal, which has seen more than 100 victims come forward with horrifying accounts of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers and French forces.

“We want absolute transparency in this trial,” Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, the country’s justice minister, said to the AFP news agency, adding that “a few individuals cannot discredit our army”.

Sergeant major Kibeka Mulamba Djuma faces similar charges, while sergeant major Nsasi Ndazu was charged with disobeying orders and attempted rape. 

All three pleaded not guilty.

Some 18 other soldiers from the DR Congo are accused of rape or attempted rape of civilians in the CAR also attended the court over the scandal, which came to public attention after 100 victims came forward with appalling accounts of sexual abuse by UN and French troops.

Three hearings are scheduled each week, meaning the entire process could take months to complete.

Ida Sawyer, an advocate for Human Rights Watch in the Democratic Republic of Congo, told AFP the trial at Ndolo was “a first, and good, step to end impunity” and called on all countries involved to ensure “real justice”.

But Venance Kalenga, who attended the hearing as an observer for Congolese human rights charity ACAJ, said “the absence of victims constitutes a major obstacle in the demonstration of truth”.




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