Amnesty International has called for an urgent investigation into the alleged rape of a 12-year-old girl and the apparent indiscriminate killings of a 16-year-old boy and his father by UN peacekeeping forces in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The incidents are said to have taken place earlier this month during an operation by peacekeeping forces from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) in the PK5 Muslim enclave of the capital Bangui.
According to a MINUSCA spokesperson, the operation was carried out by Rwandan and Cameroonian police and gendarmes belonging to the UN peacekeeping forces.
Amnesty International senior crisis response adviser Joanne Mariner said: "Our evidence strongly suggests that a UN peacekeeper raped a young girl and that UN peacekeeping forces indiscriminately killed two civilians.
"An independent civilian investigation must be urgently launched and those implicated must be suspended immediately and for the duration of the investigation.
"UN peacekeeping forces in Bangui should review their rules of engagement to ensure they are taking all feasible precautions to avoid incidental loss of civilian life."
The organisation has interviewed 15 witnesses in the immediate aftermath of both incidents, including the victim and her family.
Witnesses claimed that the peacekeepers began shooting indiscriminately in the area even though they were not exposed to threat.
A Cameroonian soldier was killed and nine others were injured during armed clashes with residents of the enclave a day earlier.
A MINUSCA spokesperson said it has opened an initial internal investigation into the operation.
The UN has been criticised for its lack of adequate response to allegations of sexual abuse of children by international military forces in the CAR in recent months.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also set up an external independent review panel to examine the UN’s handling of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, and to make recommendations as to how it should respond to similar allegations in the future.
The UN and all its troop-contributing countries are required to fully adhere to its stated ‘zero tolerance’ policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.
Image: A UN peacekeeper is accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in the Central African Republic. Photo: courtesy of Amnesty International.