UN finds more cases of child abuse by European troops in CAR
Up to six more cases of alleged sexual abuse, including girl of 7 and boy of 9, by EU and French soldiers in Central African Republic, says human rights chief
Associated Press in Geneva Friday 29 January 2016
The UN human rights office says it has turned up six more cases of alleged sexual abuse against children by European troops in Central African Republic, including a 7-year-old girl who said she had to perform sexual acts on soldiers in exchange for water and cookies.
A UN team recently interviewed five girls and a boy who claimed their abusers were part of French and European Union military operations in the troubled African country, the office of Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, said.
The sexual abuse allegedly took place in 2014 in or near a camp for displaced people near M’Poko airport in CAR’s capital, Bangui, but only came to light in recent weeks in the latest in a string of similar allegations.
France, CAR’s former colonial ruler, deployed several thousand troops to the country in late 2013 as violence between Christians and Muslims sent thousands fleeing from their homes. An African Union mission that began in April 2014 was taken over by a UN peacekeeping force five months later, while the EU force ended an 11-month mission in March last year.
At a news conference later on Friday in New York, the UN also announced new allegations against UN peacekeepers. Assistant secretary general Anthony Banbury came close to tears as he described four new child sex abuse cases in CAR involving UN troops and police from Bangladesh, Congo, Niger and Senegal.
He also announced an allegation of sexual assault against a minor by a member of Morocco’s military contingent serving with the earlier AU mission.
Banbury said there are likely to be 69 confirmed allegations of sexual abuse or exploitation in the UN’s 16 peacekeeping missions around the world, including 22 in CAR, for all of 2015. That figure is up from 51 in 2014 when there were no reported cases, he said....
Senate probe faults gov't for migrant child abuse
Friday, January 29, 2016 Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Migrant children in the government's care were placed in U.S. homes and left vulnerable to human trafficking due to sometimes non-existent screening by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a congressional report released Thursday.
The investigation says HHS failed to run background checks on the adults in the sponsors' households, failed to visit sponsors' homes and failed to realize some sponsors were accumulating multiple unrelated children, which can be a sign of human trafficking.
Lawmakers contend the government weakened its child protection policies as it was overwhelmed by tens of thousands of children crossing the border. A Senate subcommittee held a hearing Thursday to release the report and examine weaknesses in the department's placement of migrant children.
At the hearing, HHS officials declined to fully answer many of the senators' questions, at times saying they did not have the legal authority from Congress to follow up on the children.
The investigation by the panel echoes the findings of an Associated Press investigation that found more than two dozen unaccompanied children were sent to homes across the country where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, the chairman of the panel, says the HHS placement program for migrant children suffers from "serious, systemic defects."
The congressional investigation and hearing are in response to a case in Portman's home state of Ohio, where six Guatemalan unaccompanied minors were placed with human traffickers, including sponsors and their associates. Lured to the U.S. with the promise of an education, the teens instead were forced to work up to 12 hours a day on egg farms under threats of death.
The report says the department did not conduct any home visits in the Ohio case and performed visits in less than 5 percent of cases overall from 2013 to 2015....