UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed a panel to investigate the response of the world body to allegations of sexual abuse surrounding a deployment of foreign military forces in the Central African Republic (CAR), a spokesperson said.
In a statement the UN spokesperson confirmed the Secretary-General remains “deeply concerned” by allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children committed by foreign military forces not under UN command, as well as the Organisation’s own response to the allegations.
The three-member panel – which will include Marie Deschamps of Canada; Hassan Bubacar Jallow of Gambia; and Yasmin Louise Sooka of South Africa – will aim to review both the allegations and the UN response and any shortcomings in existing procedures covering serious crimes by the Organisation and related personnel, host State forces and non-State actors that it may become aware of during its review.
The panel will also conduct its work independently and will receive unrestricted access to all UN records and full access to staff members and other UN personnel.
“The UN will make its best efforts to facilitate the access of the panel to non-UN personnel,” the statement continued. “In addition to those the panel may reach out to, any person who wishes to provide information relevant to the External Independent Review is encouraged to contact the panel directly through an external email address that will be announced shortly.”
The three panel members will begin their work in July and aim to submit a report within ten weeks and will operate with the mandate to make recommendations on how the UN should respond to similar allegations in the future.
Deschamps is a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and Jallow is Prosecutor of UN international Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda while the South African, Sooka, is executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights.
She was a member of an expert advisory panel on Sri Lanka to the UN Secretary-General in 2010 and 2011. She served as a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 1995 until its report was finalised in 2003. In 2002 she was appointed by Mary Robinson, then High Commissioner for Human Rights, as an International Commissioner to the Truth Commission in Sierra Leone. She is widely regarded as an expert on transitional justice as well as gender and reparations. She has also worked extensively on disappearances and victims’ claims. She has served on a number of expert missions and regularly acts as consultant to several governments and civil society organisations.