FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Tel: +1 646-924-1710, +1-647-406-5731
UN Must Not Censor Judges' Report on CAR Peacekeeper Sex Abuse
December 16, 2015 — Tomorrow, December 17th, a panel of three judges appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will hand him the findings of its probe into a stomach-turning saga of child sex abuse by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. Mr. Ban Ki-moon was forced to appoint the “CAR Panel” because of reports that the United Nations had interviewed young rape victims in 2014, but had done nothing to stop the abuse. Months later, fearing that their inaction was about to be exposed, several very senior UN officials took extreme, highly questionable steps to suppress information about the UN’s negligence and failure to protect.
Eight months have passed since AIDS-Free World obtained leaked copies of the UN’s original interviews with child victims and exposed the sex abuse scandal through the media. Our subsequent release of internal UN reports and email exchanges among top UN officials provoked public outrage, and ultimately led the Secretary-General to commission the CAR Panel to get to the truth. As the first people called to testify to the judges, AIDS-Free World staff were able to unravel a complex and sordid saga, and point to the involvement of an astonishing array of the Secretary-General’s top appointees and most trusted advisors.
We have faith that the CAR Panel conducted a thorough review within the limited time and authority it was given. We have no doubt that its report will contain uncomfortable revelations about UN practices and procedures, some of which fly in the face of the Secretary-General’s oft-stated commitment to ‘zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse.’
But will Mr. Ban immediately release the report to the governments, journalists, UN staff members and public who anxiously await it? Or will he postpone its release until the height of the year-end holiday season, giving his damage-control teams time to cleanse it? Such a move would surely backfire, forever linking this Secretary-General to crimes committed by soldiers from France, Chad, and Equatorial Guinea, to hungry homeless boys who were raped in a conflict zone, and to several top UN officials who did nothing to protect them.
We sincerely hope that the CAR Panel’s report will trigger systemic changes to a UN that was willing to sacrifice the safety of children to protect its own reputation. But to get that process started, the world must first learn the unwashed truth.
We will work from the assumption that the Secretary-General will do the right thing by releasing the report publicly tomorrow, December 17th, at the point of handover. If there is any delay, revision, or redaction, the public will be forced to conclude that there is something in that report that the Secretary-General would prefer not to reveal to the world.
AIDS-Free World is an international advocacy organization devoted to exposing and addressing injustice, abuse, and inequality. We launched the Code Blue campaign to end impunity for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeeping personnel. www.codebluecampaign.com