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Report: U.N. peacekeepers drugged, raped woman in Central African Republic

Report: U.N. peacekeepers drugged, raped woman in Central African Republic

Oct. 12 (UPI) -- U.N. peacekeepers drugged and raped a 19-year-old woman in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said Wednesday -- adding more pressure on the United Nations to deal with the problem of sexual abuse committed by its forces there.

"We have uncovered compelling evidence suggesting that at least one Mauritanian peacekeeper, and possibly more, raped a young woman," said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International. "The public authorities in the town of Bambari have confirmed the rape, and the U.N. is investigating it."

The woman told Amnesty International that she was raped at a checkpoint manned by Mauritanian peacekeepers while on her way to a funeral. She said the soldiers offered her tea, which she accepted because she was feeling ill. She said she woke up on the ground nearly nude hours later.

"If substantiated, these serious rape allegations should result in the repatriation, suspension, and prosecution of any troops suspected of criminal responsibility," Mariner said. "The U.N. must also ensure the victim receives support and damages. Its peacekeepers are in CAR to protect civilians from violence, rather than perpetrate it."

Last year, a U.N. report found at least 108 victims of sexual abuse, the majority of them minors, by peacekeepers in Central African Republic.

"We must face the fact that a number of troops sent to protect people instead acted with hearts of darkness," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at the time.

Although the United Nations began investigating the cases last year, Code Blue, a U.S.-based watchdog group pushing for greater accountability among peacekeepers, said last month that many of the investigations were mishandled and many cases simply filtered out.