Africa Ignores Cameroon Crisis As Human Rights Abuses Mount

Security forces shooting dead unarmed protesters, arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, disappearances, harassment and intimidation are some of the reported human rights abuses that have been continuing for more than four months now in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

“I write to you in hiding and with so much fear that at anytime, anywhere, I can be picked up by the police or military and immediately tried for felony for just sending this email.”

These are the desperate words of a Cameroonian activist, contained in an email message sent to me, that point to a deeply concerning and worsening human rights crisis in Cameroon.

“The situation in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon is so scary. A walk in any part of the regions, you will automatically feel like you are in a war zone”.

The war zone effect that this activist, who did not want to be named, is referring to is a result of a brutal, militarised crackdown by the authorities in response to peaceful protests, which has created a climate of repression, fear and intimidation in the English-speaking South West and North West regions. The shooting dead of unarmed protesters, arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, disappearances, harassment and intimidation by security forces are some of the reported human rights abuses that have been continuing for more than four months now. Regular “Ghost Town” boycott protests, also begun months ago, leave city streets deserted, schools closed and businesses shuttered.

The activist had to risk traveling to a neighboring Francophone region just to send me her email. An internet blockade that has been in effect since mid-January has cut off internet access and disrupted cellular services for millions of Cameroonians in the English-speaking regions.

In October, lawyers and teachers launched strikes to demand greater inclusion of English-speaking professionals in the legal and teaching sectors. Weeks later, civil society organisations called for public demonstrations in support of the strikes and in protest against the “marginalization and deprivation” of English-speaking Cameroonians by the Francophone-dominated government of President Paul Biya. The government response was to dispatch security forces to quash dissent.

The hiding activist’s email ends with a heartfelt appeal to the international community to come and bear witness to what is going on and intervene to help bring an end to the crisis.

In response to such appeals, Africans Rising – an emerging movement of people and movements, working for peace, justice and dignity – embarked on a fact-finding mission to Cameroon in February. Our goal was to investigate the conflict and better understand it and its context and to join in solidarity with the people of Cameroon in efforts to help bring about lasting peaceful and just solutions to the crisis.

I led a four-person delegation that traveled through the militarised regions to meet discreetly with stakeholders including activists, religious leaders, youth, lawyers, trade unionists and ordinary residents, many of whom requested anonymity out of fear for their safety. They shared eyewitness accounts of human rights violations and their impact on local communities. What we discovered and the actions we recommend are contained in a report just published on the mission.

In Bamenda and Buea, the capital cities of the North West and South West regions respectively, we were told that citizens could be targeted for arrest, interrogation and prosecution merely for discussing the protests, let alone supporting them or the demands they promote.

Inside a car in a church parking lot, a religious leader who had been subjected to raids on his home by security forces described the impact of heavy-handed security tactics. “They really go after the boys,” he said, explaining that, in a country with 60 percent of the population under 25, authorities appeared to especially target male youths. Indeed, an investigation by the statutory National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms found that minors were being held in Cameroon’s notorious prisons as part of the clampdown on protests and called for their immediate release.

Our delegation also directly observed the devastating economic impact of the Internet blockade, disrupted cellular communications, the closure of businesses and the negative social impacts on education, healthcare and general security in the regions affected by the government’s crackdown.

The Internet blackout that was instituted on 17 January 2017 – the same day the government banned the activities of the civil society organisations leading protests and jailed their leaders – remains in effect and has left millions of Cameroonians without any Internet access and disrupted cellular communications.

France-based NGO, Internet Without Borders, recently estimated that the shutdown has cost Cameroon upwards of $1.5 million. Small to medium enterprises that rely on the Internet to function, have borne the brunt of that cost. We were told that some have been forced to shut down, as a result. Social services that rely on connectivity to function properly such as hospitals and medical centres have been also been adversely affected.

As part of the “Ghost Town” stay-at-home boycotts, students in the English-speaking regions have not been attending classes for months, while for their French-speaking counterparts, lessons have been continuing as normal. This lapse in education, our mission found, is likely to have far-reaching implications for English-speaking students and could increase existing disparities.

In order to resolve this deepening crisis, the Africans Rising recommends that the government immediately stops repressive actions and fear by ending its militarised security operations in the the affected regions with immediate effect. Other recommendations include the immediate and unconditional release of all people – including children, civil society leaders and journalists – arrested and detained in connection with the process; the immediate restoration of internet access; the resumption of schooling; and the establishment of an open, independently-mediated dialogue process between government and the leadership of English-speaking civil society to address all grievances.

It is also worrying and disappointing that a crisis of these proportions, which has implications not only for Cameroon but the region and the continent, is not getting the attention it deserves from African leaders and African media. To date, there has been no clear response from the regional bloc, the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC), even after President Biya raised the conflict at a CEMAC Summit in December 2016. The African Union’s only response to date has been to express concern about events and call for dialogue to resolve the crisis.

Negotiations between the government and civil society, whose leaders are being tried on terrorism charges for calling for peaceful protests remain stalled. Africans Rising is recommending open, honest dialogue guided by an independent mediator.

Cameroonians are calling for the AU to assume its mandated responsibility by actively engaging the crisis to help find a lasting, peaceful resolution that ensures the rights and freedoms of Cameroonian citizens and addresses the grievances at the root of the conflict.

Africans Rising believes that this crisis – and crises like this, concerning group rights – impacts all Africans on the continent in many different ways. We would like to see African civil society and solidarity networks take up the challenge to engage this situation in Cameroon in a spirit of unity of purpose for the rights and prosperity of all Africans.

Kumi Naidoo is launch director of Africans Rising, an emerging movement of people and formations, working for peace, justice and dignity. Africans Rising officially launches on 25 May 2017, Africa Liberation Day.

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Putin Slams Geoengineering As ‘Uneducated’ And ‘Against Nature’

By Baxter Dmitry:

Putin claims he is "vindicated" by recent news reports that Western elites are experimenting with chemtrails.
As mainstream media in the United States and Britain officially announce that solar geoengineering experiments are taking place, President Putin had a message for his detractors: “Hate to say I told you so.”

Vladimir Putin claims he has been “vindicated” by recent news reports that Western elites are engaging in chemtrail experiments, saying “I don’t know what I have to to do to get through to these people.”

Putin was speaking at the an event for the Russian Geographical Society, an organization long supported by the Russian president. During a brief press conference Putin made reference to the blatant official cover-up of the global climate engineering assault, raising an eyebrow as he said, “Apparently they are calling them ‘aerosol cloud formations’ now”.

Putin was referring to news in Western media concerning the $20 million Harvard University project that will send aerosol injections up into the earth’s stratosphere, in the world’s first openly acknowledged chemtrails experiment on the public.

But according to Putin, Western governments have been experimenting on their people for years. Less than a month ago Putin blasted governments for lying to their people about geoengineering.

Speaking at a charity fundraiser in his home town St. Petersburg in February, Putin set himself on a collision course with Western governments, saying, “It is remarkable the American government are still refusing to acknowledge their operations. The scientific data is there for all to see. How can people demand regulations and controls on operations if the government won’t admit these operations exist? It is insulting to people’s intelligence.”

Now, in late March, with news of Harvard University’s public study, it seems Putin was right all along. They can use mainstream media to re-name them “aerosol cloud formations” if they want, but the simple fact is they are experimenting on us with chemtrails.

According to Putin these operations pose a “monumental threat” to the earth’s biota and are “not only offensive, but against nature.”

Putin, who is fundamentally opposed to climate engineering programs, is said to be “deeply concerned” about the “uneducated risks” being taken by Western corporations, and sanctioned by Western governments, all in pursuit of control of the population and profit.

Putin was asked if Western governments’ atmospheric spraying operations and weather manipulation programs represent the “greatest assault on the earth’s life and health…in human history.”

The Russian president said it does not matter if it is “the greatest threat, or the second greatest threat, or the third. What matters is that it is an assault. It is a serious assaultIt is not only offensive, it is against nature.”

Flying close to the sun

The feeling in Russia is that Western governments and corporations are flying too close to the sun. But the problem is that they won’t be the only ones to get burnt – the earth as a whole will suffer the consequences of their actions.

As evidence emerges that geoengineering and climate manipulation is damaging the ozone layer, the fear is that the earth will reach a crisis point and will not be able to recover. The poisoned earth, like an incurably diseased body, will be left to die.

The alternative, according to Putin, is the same as it always has been. Simple, respectful treatment of the earth, water systems, and air.

Asked if he would advise against his citizens spending time in heavily sprayed areas of the world, Putin said he would not tell people where to enjoy their holidays. “But I do encourage people to educate themselves on this issue and make intelligent decisions.”

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Money has corrupted science, including some individual scientists

by Henry Bauer:

Some years ago, I had blogged about “The business of for-profit ‘science’”, pointing out that “A number of trends, in society as a whole as well as in science and medicine, have led to the present dysfunctional state of affairs. It is not the result of conspiracies or overt evil-doing . . .”.

Systemic change means that just “doing what everyone does” results in bad things for the public as a whole. An obvious illustration at the moment is that politics has become so pervaded by “spin” that truth has essentially disappeared from what politicians and their spokespeople say, with consequences that everyone should fear.

But that “normal” behavior has become dysfunctional does not entail that there is not also deliberate additional mischief being done, and things that seem so out of order that they ought to be criminally prosecutable.

One aspect of present dysfunctionality in scientific activities is the proliferation of what has been aptly described as predatory publishing on-line of what seem on their face to be scientific journals but whose entire raison d’être is to make money for the publishers from the fees paid by author. The steadily updated list of apparently predatory publishers and journals inaugurated by Jeffrey Beall was no longer on-line as of some time between 12 and 18 January 2017, but the Wayback Machine makes an earlier version available .

Admittedly, every active, publishing researcher knows that peer review and editorial judgments are far from infallibly expert and impartial, but the predatory journals have no quality control at all, illustrated by the acceptance of entirely fake articles, for instance in Open Information Science published by Bentham Science (Jessica Shepherd, “Editor quits after journal accepts bogus science article”, 18 June 2009 ); the editor of another Bentham journal, Open Chemical Physics, resigned after an article she had never seen was published, a piece that alleged the presence of “nanothermite” particles in the dust from the Twin Towers terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 (Thomas Hoffmann, “Chefredaktør skrider efter kontroversiel artikel om 9/11”, 28 April 2009; Denis G. Rancourt, “Editor in Chief resigned over the Harrit et al. nanothermite paper”, 11 November 2010).

Beall had listed more than 1100 publishers, some of which publish hundreds of ”journals” where “article processing charges” run from a few hundred dollars upwards to more than $1000. Any honest researcher with results of any importance seeks publication in a long-established and respected journal, so all this “publication” by the predators is sheer waste, much of it money that had been awarded to scientists as research grants. Bentham Science, perhaps iconic of the more prominent predators, lists well over 100 journals. In 2013, Science published the report of a sting operation in which fake manuscripts with obvious flaws were sent to a number of open-access journals; more than half the fake articles were accepted for publication (John Bohannon, “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review? A spoof paper concocted by Science reveals little or no scrutiny at many open-access journals”, Science 342 [2013] 60-5).

Of course not all mainstream print journals manage always to detect even obvious deficiencies, but predatory journals leave other clues, for example, that they continually solicit people for submissions and to serve as editors and on editorial boards (e.g. D. H. Kaye, “Flaky academic journals”, 21 December 2016; Gunther Eysenbach, “Black sheep among Open Access Journals and Publishers”).

Legitimate journals employ copyeditors, but the predators do not. Recently I benefited from e-mails that revealed yet further deceitful money grubbing. Bentham Science journals suggest that authors get (and pay for) copy-editing and language improvement services offered by Eureka Science — whose staff happens to be the same people who also run Bentham Science. The “two” companies also pretend to be separate entities in the arranging of conferences, for example the International Conference on Drug Discovery and Therapy (six since 2008).

Conferences can be real money-makers. For the 2017 International Conference on Drug Discovery and Therapy, registration fees range from about $500 for mere attendees to, for speakers ~$1000 (academic) o r~ $1600 (corporate) (the approximate “~” because fees vary a bit according to when they are paid). Invited speakers pay the same fees as non-invited, which strikes me as odd. When I’m invited to speak I’m offered expenses, even an honorarium; but then I haven’t been active in mainstream science research for quite some time. The Conference organizers do offer free travel and accommodation to a few eminent people, say Nobel Prize winners, since having those attend lends apparent legitimacy to the proceedings. These meetings can be lucrative indeed for the organizers: the 2015 International Conference on Drug Discovery and Therapy listed more than 360 registrants.

The identity of Bentham Science and Eureka Science was revealed to me by Fiona Hayden, self-described as a researcher in the field of corporate ethics with a special interest in the STM publishing industry. She discovered that
Ø      Bentham Science hides its identity and location.
Ø      It organizes conferences but tells potential audience that it is just a media partner, that the organizer is a different company.
Ø      It asks authors to pay for grammar and English editing to its own company with the different name Eureka Science.
Ø      It does not allow its employees to disclose on their social media accounts that they work for Bentham Science.
Ø      It puts people who expose them on a black list.

The version of the black list Hayden sent me had about 30 names. The criterion for inclusion seems to be anyone who might be a whistleblower about improper happenings: one person on the list whom I had known reasonably well was an activist for integrity of academic ideals; another has been one of the most prominent advocates of respectable high-quality open-access publishing.

At one of the “Eureka” conferences, several of the staff had identified themselves as Bentham employees to Hayden and her colleagues, who also identified by name and e-mail address several individuals active in “both” companies, which are registered in Karachi as Information Technology Services (ITS). Among the registrants at the 2015 Conference on Drug Discovery and Therapy, about 15 were Bentham employees listed as ITS or Eureka.

ITS, Bentham Science, & Eureka Science are one and the same, owned by retired Professor Atta-ur-Rehman who is always president or vice president of Eureka conferences (Fiona Hayden e-mail, 2 March 2017). While serving as Chairman of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, Atta-ur-Rehman had been warned about the publishing of fake journals in Pakistan (Q. Isa Daudpota [professor at Pakistan’s Air University], “Scourge of fake journals”, 30 November 2011, ).

I had posted recently about The Scourge of Wikipedia; Wiki’s unreliability is illustrated by its Google summary for Bentham Science, which makes it appear as a perfectly respectable mainstream outfit instead of the reality:

Fiona Hayden also supplied links to some articles by a range of authors deploring predatory publishing and other sad aspects of contemporary science:

http://www.dcscience.net/2011/12/16/open-access-peer-review-grants-and-other-academic-conundrums/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4315198/

http://neurodojo.blogspot.de/2015/04/how-much-harm-is-done-by-predatory.html

http://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2013/05/10/16/21/straight-talk-predatory-publishers

http://blog.pokristensson.com/2010/11/04/academic-spam-and-open-access-publishing/

http://www.editage.com/insights/simple-steps-authors-can-follow-to-protect-their-research-from-predatory-publishers

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17288-crap-paper-accepted-by-journal/

*                     *                   *                   *                   *                   *                   *                   *

Predatory publishing exists because of how the whole enterprise of science has been corrupted by outside interests and the overweening pursuit of financial profit. I deplore what Bentham/Eureka/ITS does, though the conferences are evidently found useful, given that they attract so many attendees. Meeting fresh faces from distant places can be a rewarding experience, as I found at a couple of the Conferences on the Unity of the Sciences  despite that they were organized by the Unification Church, many of whose other activities I deplore.

The degree to which “normal” mainstream science has succumbed to financial corruption may be illustrated by the Institute of Global Environment and Society, established by a professor at George Mason University. It has cashed in on the hysteria over climate change  by garnering “82 federal grants and 3 contracts from 5 agencies totaling $26,222,420 from Fiscal Year 2008 to FY 2016: (Source: www.USASpending.gov)” and spending most of it on salaries:

“IGES 2014 Income: $3,846,141 including $3,832,383 federal contributions; 2013 income $4,186,639 including $4,174 658 federal contributions; IGES spent $3,296,720 on salaries in 2014; $3,194,792 on salaries in 2013”. Principals of IGES moreover had the gall to urge criminal action against “global warming deniers” — Political correctness in science, 2017/03/06.

Not that long-established scientific publishers abstain from money grubbing, also profiting exorbitantly from open-access publishing designed to extract more money from authors and their patrons: Nature also publishes more than 30 open-access on-line journals as well as 42 journals with “hybrid open access” with per article fees between $1350 and $5200 for different journals. Elsevier charges fees ranging between $500 and $5,000, depending on the journal, for “open access” publishing.

It may be that predatory publishing will inevitably continue so long as science continues to be characterized by cutthroat competitiveness and judgments made by quantity of research grants and of publications.

There may be an analogy with drug trafficking or prostitution: so long as the demand exists, entrepreneurs will find profitable ways to satisfy the demand. So long as scientific careers call for long lists of publications, sleazy publishers will continue to exist.

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How Science Has Changed — notably since World War II

by Henry Bauer:

The way science is usually mentioned, including its history, seems to imply a fundamental continuity in the development of modern science from its origins around the 16th-17th centuries (Galileo, Newton) to the present time, via the understanding of heredity (Mendel, much later DNA), of evolution (Darwin, Lynn Margolis, many others), of atomic structure and chemical bonding, of relativity and quantum mechanics, and much else.

One can certainly discern a continuity in these discoveries and accumulations of facts and the development of ever-better, more encompassing explanations. But the nature of scientific activity — who does science and how they do it — is best understood not as a continuum over this period but as three clearly distinguishable stages in which the interaction of science with society as a whole is significantly different: what the social place of scientists is, how their work is supported, how the fruits of science are disseminated and how they are accepted (or not accepted) outside science itself.

To understand the role of science in today’s worlds it is essential to understand this history.

The birth of “modern” science is credited uncontroversially to “The” Scientific Revolution of the 17th century, but there is not equally general recognition that there have been three distinctly and significantly different stages of scientific activity since then.

In the first stage, a variety of people — clergy, craftsmen, aristocrats, entrepreneurs —were seeking to satisfy their curiosity about how the world works; truth-seeking was effectively in the hands of amateurs, people doing it for the sake of doing it, truth-seeking was their chief controlling interest. Missteps taken at this stage resulted chiefly from the inherent difficulty of making discoveries and from such inherent human flaws as pride and avarice.

The second stage, roughly much of the later 19th century and first half of the 20th, saw science becoming a career, a plausible way to make a living, not unlike other careers in academe or in professions like engineering: respectable and potentially satisfying but not any obvious path to great influence or wealth. Inevitably there were conflicts of interest between furthering a career and following objectively where evidence pointed, but competition and collegiality served well   enough to keep the progress of science little affected by conflicting career interests. The way to get ahead was by doing good science.

In the third and present stage, which began at about the middle of the 20th century, science faces a necessary change in ethos as its centuries-long expansion at an exponential rate has changed to a zero-sum, steady-state situation that has fostered intensely cutthroat competition. At the same time, the record of science’s remarkable previous successes has led industry and government to co-opt and exploit science and scientists. Those interactions offer the possibility for individual practitioners of science to gain considerable public influence and wealth. That possibility tempts to corruption. Outright fraud in research has become noticeably more frequent, and public pronouncements about matters of science are made not for the purpose of enlightenment on truths about the natural world but largely for self-interested bureaucratic and commercial motives. As a result. one cannot nowadays rely safely on the soundness of what authoritative institutions and individuals say about science.

For a full discussion with pertinent citations and references, see my article “Three Stages of Modern Science”, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 27 (2013) 505-13.

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‘Wherever we went, we got bombed’: Mosul refugees slam Iraqi & US anti-ISIS offensive

Exploring the destroyed parts of Mosul, RT has been able to gather more evidence in support of Amnesty International’s report which accuses the US-led coalition and Iraqi government of indiscriminately bombing houses with civilians inside along with ISIS targets.

The debris of destroyed houses, schools and hospitals have turned Iraq’s second largest city into an urban graveyard after the US-led coalition and Iraqi government forces launched the offensive in October to liberate the city.

With explosions and gunfire heard in the distance, RT’s crew saw US-led coalition jets heading to and from Mosul every 5–10 minutes on Tuesday night. They also witnessed an Iraqi helicopter launching missiles at IS targets on Wednesday and heard chilling stories of how Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists continue to use civilians as human shields during airstrikes.

READ MORE: ‘Credibility’ probe into US-led coalition airstrike in Mosul raised to formal investigation

But instead of organizing humanitarian corridors for civilian to leave the city, the Iraqi government, as noted in the Amnesty International report earlier this week, has been urging Mosul residents to stay inside. Unfortunately for many of them, the perceived safety of their homes became their graves, as Iraqi and US forces continue to target their houses.

VIDEO: Iraq: Civilians flee Mosul, relaying experiences of airstrikes

“Hundreds of civilians have been killed by airstrikes inside their homes or in places where they sought refuge after following Iraqi government advice not to leave during the offensive to recapture the city of Mosul from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS),” Amnesty said Tuesday in their detailed report based on witness’ testimonies.

The city itself and the refugee camp near Mosul are full of people whose houses were hit or destroyed just after they ran away ignoring government advice.

“When we were in our home, it was hit by a shell. We went to my parent’s house, and it was hit by a rocket. Wherever we went, we’d be bombed. I heard an airstrike destroyed our home,” one woman with a child told RT.

“Why is there no precision here? Air strikes are hitting us and Daesh is a small mouse, why are they bombing the city? The city is gone,” Mosul resident Abu Sayif told RT’s Ruptly video agency. “Have no mercy, no mercy, airstrikes are very bad.”

“This is the bombing, they are destroying everything,” local resident named Akram told Ruptly.

Others on the ground in Mosul have complained to RT that IS continue to use civilians as human shields during daily airstrikes, terrorizing residents and preventing anyone from leaving the western Mosul.

“IS hurt us a lot, they starved us; there is no water to drink, there is no gas, there is no food,” said Abdlrazaq Abdalkarem Qasim a Mosul resident.

“There are 4 or 5 families that can’t come out, the fighting is weakened. These guys [the Iraqi army] keep fighting, they can´t beat them but they [Daesh] are using a lot of snipers,” said Basim Muhammad Jasim, another local of Mosul.

READ MORE: ‘US airstrikes that kill civilians in Mosul allow ISIS to thrive’

“We are concerned about the pattern of civilian casualties which has been happening since the start of the operation [on October 17],” Donatella Rovera, AI’s senior crisis response adviser who carried out field investigations in Mosul, told RT. “Amnesty International is concerned that there is disproportionate use of force and this could constitute war crimes.”

Rovera told RT that the US coalition is failing to undertake “all possible and feasible precautions to minimize civilian casualties,” especially when it comes to cases where civilian structures are destroyed.

“The use of munitions and tactics at times are causing civilian casualties — notably in situations where ISIS fighters are on the roof of houses — large munitions have been used which have destroyed those houses and killed the civilians in the house,” Rovera explained on Tuesday.

Following Amnesty’s report, the Pentagon admitted that its air campaign in Mosul “probably had a role” in the mounting civilian death toll in the city.

“If these innocents were killed by the coalition, it was an unintentional accident of war,” Lieutenant General Steve Townsend the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said Tuesday, as the UN Human Rights chief announced that at least 307 people have been killed and 273 wounded in just over a month in Mosul.

The US insists that no more than 200 civilians have been killed in coalition airstrikes in Mosul, but the UK-based monitoring group Airwars says the number could be more than 10 times higher.

Some 400,000 civilians are still trapped in the Old City of Mosul, which is held by IS militants. They are facing food and electricity shortages, a representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Iraq earlier told Reuters, adding that between 8,000 and 12,000 people flee the city daily.

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French Prosecutors Want CAR Child-Rape Case Dropped

Prosecutors in Paris have called for the case to be dropped against French soldiers facing allegations they raped children in the Central African Republic while on a peacekeeping mission.

What happens next is up to investigating judges in France, but as no one has been charged a trial appears unlikely.

France opened a first probe into the child rape allegations in 2014 concerning French soldiers deployed in Central African Republic to restore security after months of violence between rebels and militia fighters.

The prosecutor believes sexual abuse may have occurred during the 2013-2014 deployment but “differences in the testimonies” meant it was not possible to establish guilt among the French troops, a source close to the case told French news agency AFP.

British daily The Guardian first revealed the accusations to the public in April 2015, reporting that six children aged between nine and 13 had said they were abused in a camp for displaced people in CAR’s capital Bangui.

Since then, other reports have emerged about troops’ alleged involvement in sexual attacks and giving children food and sometimes small amounts of money for sexual services.

Six French soldiers were questioned but none were charged and all denied committing any sexual abuse.  Read or Listen to this story on the RFI website.

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16 March 2016

Central African Republic: Days of ‘Silence’ On Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Are Over, Says UN Envoy in Central African Republic

The United Nations is sending a very strong signal that the days of silence and compromission with behaviour related to sexual exploitation and abuse by its troops are over, according to the UN envoy in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Parfait Onanga-Anyanga was appointed head of the UN Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) last August after his predecessor resigned amid allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against peacekeepers under his command.

In 2015, 22 of the 69 cases against peacekeepers serving under the UN flag took place in the CAR, and fresh allegations have surfaced in 2016. While the Organization is taking new measures to protect from these crimes, including through a recent Security Council resolution, Mr. Onanga-Anyanga told the UN News Centre that “this is appalling,” and it is unacceptable “that anyone working under the blue flag could be seen not as a protector but as a predator.”

Continue…

28 March 2016

Central African Republic: UN Reports More Sexual Abuse Cases by Peacekeepers in CAR

The United Nations has received allegations of two new cases of sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.

A U.N. spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said Monday the latest cases raise the number of reported allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers in C.A.R. this year to 25.

Continue….

Africa: UN Proposes Pay Cut to Curb Peacekeeper Sex Abuse

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday proposed cutting payments to countries that fail to investigate sex abuse accusations against their troops deployed in peacekeeping missions, among a series of new steps aimed at stamping out the misconduct.

The United Nations has been badly shaken by the wave of allegations of sex abuse by troops it deploys in missions with a clear mandate to protect civilians.

Guterres said in an annual report that there had been 145 cases of sexual exploitation and abuse involving troops and civilians across all UN peace missions in 2016, up from 99 in 2015.

The increase is partly explained by the fact that more victims are coming forward, with some allegations relating to cases from previous years.

Guterres, who took the UN helm in January, said the United Nations “continues to grapple with the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, despite great efforts over many years to address it.”

Four missions have the highest numbers of cases: Minusca in the Central African Republic, Monusco in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Minustah in Haiti, and UNMISS in South Sudan.

Under UN rules, it is up to troop-contributing countries to take action against their nationals who face credible allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation while serving under the UN flag.

But human rights groups have complained about the lack of accountability for peacekeepers. Many have avoided investigation altogether or received light punishment.

Financial penalties

Guterres proposed that payments to countries that fail to investigate allegations “in a timely manner” should be withheld, and that those amounts could be instead directed to a victims’ trust fund.

The measure is already in place for individual peacekeepers facing allegations, but the proposal would broaden it to payment for the full contingent of troops deployed in a mission.

Pledging to “put victims first,” Guterres called for appointing a special human rights expert who would serve as an advocate for victims’ rights and report directly to him.

Victims’ rights advocate

The allegations in 2016 came from 311 accusers, almost all of them women and girls, but Guterres said he was certain many cases were unreported.

In the four missions plagued by high incidence of sexual abuse, the UN chief proposed that a victims’ rights advocate be named as part of UN personnel.

He also called for setting up a team of special investigators to better respond to allegations, stronger vetting of UN personnel, “prohibitions on alcohol consumption” and new guidelines for peacekeepers on non-fraternisation.

Guterres said there was “no magic wand” to end the problem, but that the United Nations can “dramatically improve” its response.

The UN chief is under pressure to improve peacekeeping after the United States, the biggest financial contributor to peace operations, said it was reviewing its nearly $8 billion in annual support for the blue helmets.

Amnesty International said it was encouraged by the proposal to stop paying countries that fail to investigate abuse allegations against their troops and called on the General Assembly to endorse it.

“We are concerned, nonetheless, that there is still insufficient pressure on member states to ensure that incidents of sexual abuse are fairly investigated and prosecuted,” said Amnesty’s crisis response adviser Joanne Mariner.

Guterres announced plans to hold a high-level meeting in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to draw support for his proposals. -AFP

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