EXCLUSIVE: Troops from Chad and Equatorial Guinea, as well as French soldiers, were involved in the rape and sexual abuse of starving children in the Central African Republic between December 2013 and June 2014, according to the woman who handed over to the press a confidential United Nations investigation on the incidents.
Paula Donovan, co-director of the non-government organization Aids-Free World, who provided the report to the British newspaper The Guardian, also condemned the United Nations for its investigation of a U.N. employee who allegedly handed on a copy of the investigation documents to French authorities, complaining “we haven’t heard a word yet on what the U.N. did with the children” who were interviewed in compiling the explosive documents.
“We don’t know if the children have since been located, or what help and services they have been offered,” she told Fox News.
The confidential investigation, carried out by representatives of the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and UNICEF, is based on interviews with Central African Republic refugee children age 9 to 11, which took place between May 5 and June 27, 2014. The incidents they describe took place between December 2013 and June 2014.
According to the Guardian, and confirmed by Donovan, the interviews describe in graphic detail the sexual atrocities committed by forces that had been sent with U.N. Security Council blessing to protect civilians and bring some measure of order to the Central African Republic (CAR) vortex. The interviews largely took place near a refugee center at the airport for Bangui, the capital.
One of the accounts, Donovan told Fox News, was based on interviews with a boy who watched from hiding as two Chadian soldiers abused another boy while a third trooper looked on. In another incident, two Equatorial Guinean soldiers took turns in forcing oral sex and sodomy on a hungry child.
The alleged rapists and abusers were members of a French-led coalition of largely African Union troops that deployed to the civil war-shattered CAR in December 2013.
That force had been endorsed by a December 5, 2013, U.N. Security Council resolution that among other things condemned “sexual violence against women and children,” as well as rape, on the part of sectarian forces that had torn the country apart.
The resolution also demanded that the international intervenors “implement specific commitments on timely investigation of alleged abuses in order to hold perpetrators accountable.”
The Franco-African coalition was replaced by a formal U.N. peacekeeping mission in September, 2014.
French authorities have been investigating the crimes since last July, when a U.N. employee, Anders Kompass, gave them copies of the raw interviews.
According to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who did not identify Kompass by name, the unedited documents “included the identities of victims, witnesses and investigators” and were handed over even before the information was in the possession of senior management of the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
This was, Ban said, a “serious breach of protocol” that mandated deletion of “any information that could endanger victims, witnesses and investigators” as well as the presumably wrongful communication of that information to “external actors.”
Ban’s statement specifically said that the U.N.’s “preliminary assessment” was that the handing over of the information to outsiders “does not constitute whistle-blowing,” which has—at least nominally—protected status at the U.N.
“We can’t have rogue staff members breaking the rules,” a U.N. official told Fox News. “This is a very serious matter. You can’t leak first and then provide information to your management later. There are procedures to follow. We never release reports with any names in them, for safety reasons.”
Kompass could not be reached for comment by Fox News. Nonetheless, Ban’s no-whistleblower assessment was immediately challenged by Bea Edwards, executive director of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), a Washington-based whistleblower protection organization.
“A whistleblower can legitimately contact external authorities when there is imminent danger to public health and safety—presumably rape is that—or when there is a serious violation of international or national law,” Edwards told Fox News. “These children were hungry, displaced orphans, and the people abusing them were the people there to protect them.”
Edwards also said that her organization was “in contact” with Kompass, who has been placed on administrative leave while his case is further investigated by the U.N.
That investigation, a U.N. official told Fox News, would take place “quickly but still requires time.” It was unlikely to be complete in “less than a couple of months.”
George Russell is editor-at-large of Fox News and can be found on Twitter: @GeorgeRussell or on Facebook.com/George Russell
Fox News’ Maria Karlsson contributed to this report.