"The United Nations and its agencies grossly mishandled allegations of child sexual abuse by international peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, an independent review panel said in a report released on Thursday.
At least 13 French soldiers, two from Equatorial Guinea and three Chadian troops were implicated in the alleged abuse of children between December 2013 and June 2014, according to a U.N. report leaked in April...
The U.N. only began speaking openly about the year-old charges after media organizations began reporting on them in April. At that point, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ordered an independent investigation of the U.N. treatment of the allegations.
In its findings, the three-member review panel harshly criticized the way the U.N. and its agencies dealt with the alleged abuse, calling it 'seriously flawed' and a 'gross institutional failure.' It said three senior U.N. officials had abused their authority by failing to take action.
Ban said he accepted the report's findings.
'The report depicts a United Nations that failed to respond meaningfully when faced with information about reprehensible crimes against vulnerable children,' he said. 'I express my profound regret that these children were betrayed by the very people sent to protect them.'...
The panel said investigating sexual abuse by peacekeepers, whether or not those troops have a U.N. mandate, is obligatory because such actions can constitute a 'serious human rights violation.'
But the allegations were 'passed from desk to desk, inbox to inbox, across multiple U.N. offices, with no one willing to take responsibility.'
The panel was particularly harsh about the head of the Human Rights and Justice Section (HRJS) of the U.N. mission and the head of the mission itself, saying they had abused their authority..."