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On CAR Child Rape Reports, Lithuanian PR Cites Hollande's No Mercy, Says Let's See How

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 4 -- With Lithuania taking over Presidency of the UN Security Council for May, on May 4 Inner City Press asked its Permanent Representative Raimonda Murmokaite if she thinks the Council can or should play any role on the recent revelation that the UN heard testimony about French soldiers in the Sangaris mission in the Central African Republic engaged in sexual abuse of children. Video here.

   (The UN has yet to answer Inner City Press as to why it told only France, and not the Central African Republic authorities, about the alleged sexual abuse.)

   Ambassador Murmokaite replied that “in our national capacity we have stressed the importance of the zero tolerance policy with regard to peacekeepers.... As you know, President Hollande has spoken very strongly about this situation.”

  Francois Hollande said there would be “no mercy” for French soldiers if found guilty. His defense minister Jean-Yves le Drian has said that those implicated should turn themselves in.

  That, however, implies that no prosecution or even identification has been made by the French government in nine month. Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesperson if the UN knows if the soldiers are still in CAR, which the UN works with Sangaris. The UN spokesman said he does not know.

      Ambassador Murmokaite emphasized President Hollande's statement, saying “that's very important that the country which is sending its forces should take such a strong position. Let's see how that is translated in practical terms.”

    With all due respect to France, countries whose soldiers are accused of raping children should be held to a single standard, whatever their heads of state may say. Doesn't the UN Security Council have some role to follow up on this? Given that its MINUSCA mission works with Sangaris?

  In the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN Peacekeeping refuses to work with the Congolese Army to try to neutralize the Hutu FDLR militia, after the UN did participate against the Tutsi M23. UN Peacekeeping cites its stated human rights due diligence as the reason. But doesn't this policy apply to coordination with the French Sangaris forces, where it seems the alleged child rapists may still be deployed?

   As Inner City Press included in the question on May 4, Ambassador Murmokaite earlier this year tweeted a reply that she had raised in Council consultations the alleged rages in Tabit in Darfur. How are these rapes, of children, any different? Shouldn't both be followed up on? We'll have more on this.

Footnote: Inner City Press, on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access which earlier on May 4 asked the UN why it said Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura will do no stakeouts in Geneva, asked    Ambassador Murmokaite to do question and answer stakeouts through May after closed consultations, to summarize what was said. It appears she may do some - “let's see,” to coin a phrase.

 Media access, in a fair basis, is not unrelated to the press freedom issues to be discussed in the Security Council on May 27. We'll be there.


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