Bangui, Central African Republic: The UN pledged to stamp out sexual abuse during global peacekeeping missions, calling for DNA testing and court-martials after appalling new accounts, including bestiality, from more than 100 victims in Central African Republic.
"We will discuss with members states ... the possibility of holding court martials on the spot, in the countries where the reprehensible actions were committed," UN under-secretary for peacekeeping operations Herve Ladsous said Friday.
"This would show victims we are dealing with their plight," said Ladsous during a visit in the Central African capital.
He also suggested taking DNA samples of troops about to deploy on peace missions "to facilitate paternity tests" in case of claims.
UN investigators have identified 108 alleged new victims, "the vast majority" of whom are under-age girls who were raped, sexually abused or exploited by foreign troops, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday.
French President Francois Hollande and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Friday there would be no impunity for French troops and UN peacekeepers accused in the scandal.
Hollande, who met with Ban in Washington, said that if true, the allegations would "stain France's honour."
French authorities this week received a UN letter outlining new allegations of sexual abuse.
Ban was "shocked to the core" by the allegations that emerged after a UN team traveled to south-central Kemo prefecture to interview the women and girls.
The teams received accounts that troops from France's Sangaris force coerced girls to engage in bestiality in return for small amounts of money.
AIDS-Free World, a civil society group that tracks peacekeeper sex abuse cases, said three girls told a UN rights officer that in 2014 they were tied up and undressed by a Sangaris commander inside a camp and forced to have sex with a dog.
'Heart Of Darkness'
Dujarric stressed that "the facts have not been ascertained" in what could be the most serious wave of allegations to date to hit the troubled peace mission in Central African Republic.
"We must face the fact that a number of troops sent to protect people instead acted with hearts of darkness," Dujarric said.
France sent its Sangaris intervention force to the Central African Republic in December 2013 and while the troops are not part of the UN mission, they have been mandated by the Security Council to help restore peace to the country.
Also Friday, the French defence ministry said the soldiers, if convicted, would face strict military discipline in addition to any criminal penalities that may be brought.
UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has called for investigations that "leave no stone unturned."
Under UN rules, the responsibility for investigating and prosecuting peacekeeper sexual abuse lies with the countries that contribute the troops and police to the peace missions.
In a first, Dujarric said the United Nations would carry out joint investigations with Burundi and Gabon of the allegations that took place between 2013 and 2015.
The Central African peacekeeping operation, known as MINUSCA, counts about 12,600 foreign police and soldiers, as well as more than 500 foreign civilians.
The UN mission took over from an African Union force in September 2014 as the country was still reeling from a wave of sectarian bloodshed.
As disturbing allegations of sexual assault by troops targeting civilians mounted, Ban in August fired the mission chief, but new claims have continued to emerge.
Earlier this week, the United Nations reported two new cases of sexual abuse by Burundian and Moroccan troops, including one that involved a 14-year-old girl....