CAR PANEL ISSUES SCATHING REPORT ON UN'S HANDLING OF SEXUAL ABUSE
On Thursday, December 17, the External Independent Review Panel ("CAR Panel") submitted its highly-anticipated report, "Taking Action on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeepers: Report of an Independent Review on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by International Peacekeeping Forces in the Central African Republic." It found that three UN officials abused their authority, and offered sweeping recommendations to improve the systemic failures it found in the UN's response to sexual exploitation and abuse. The Secretary-General commissioned the External Independent Review in June 2015, after AIDS-Free World leaked documents describing UN inaction in CAR and issued a statement exposing the scandal, resulting in intense pressure from Member States, media and the Code Blue campaign.
The report's recommendations are reproduced here:
Acknowledge that sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, whether or not the alleged perpetrator is under UN command, is a form of conflict related sexual violence to be addressed under the UN’s human rights policies.
Create a Coordination Unit in OHCHR reporting directly to the High Commissioner for Human Rights to oversee and coordinate responses to conflict related sexual violence, including:
- monitoring, reporting and follow up on allegations of sexual abuse;
- analyzing data with a view to tracking trends and practises for the purpose of improving prevention and accountability; and
- following up on the implementation of the Panel’s recommendations.
Create a working group to support the Coordination Unit made up of experts (including specialists skilled in addressing sexual violence by international forces), and representatives of TCCs. The working group should:
- develop a single policy harmonizing the SEA and human rights policies and
- develop processes promoting criminal accountability for sexual violence.
Require mandatory and immediate reporting of all allegations of sexual violence to:
- the head of the human rights component in the field or mission, or the reporting officer; and
- in the case of sexual violence against children, the child protection officer, as well as UNICEF and the SRSG CAAC; and in the case of sexual violence against adults, the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict; and
- the Coordination Unit.
Establish, under the authority of the Coordination Unit, a professional investigative team available for immediate deployment when conflict related sexual violence by peacekeepers is reported.
Task the working group with reviewing UN policies dealing with confidentiality in order to establish a proper balance between informed consent, protection, and accountability.
Establish a Trust Fund to provide specialized services to victims of conflict related sexual violence.
Negotiate with TCCs provisions ensuring prosecution, including by granting host countries subsidiary jurisdiction to prosecute crimes of sexual violence by peacekeepers.
Negotiate the inclusion in agreements with TCCs of provisions ensuring transparency and cooperation in accountability processes.
Adopt an approach to immunity that presumes cooperation and active participation of UN staff in accountability processes.
Negotiate with all TCCs provisions for screening troops that are minimally equivalent to the standards described in the HRDDP.
Maintain a comprehensive and up-to-date human rights database hosted by OHCHR.