France has acknowledged that its soldiers deployed to the Central African Republic (CAR) under the pretext of quelling the bloody sectarian violence in the country, have committed physical abuse against civilians there, disciplining five servicemen. The French defense ministry announced on Saturday that it has disciplined five of the troops accused of engaging in physical abuse following their deployment to CAR, including sexual abuse of children, local press reports said.
The five are accused of physically abusing two Central Africans at a military outpost in the capital Bangui in 2014, the Ouest-Francenewspaper reported. There are currently three official probes under way into allegations that French soldiers sexually abused children in the country, but the latest case does not relate to sexual acts, said a ministry source cited in the report. “In view of the gravity of the facts, the five soldiers have been suspended,” said the defense ministry, noting, “Simultaneously disciplinary action has been launched… as a precursor to their eviction from the military.”
France launched the Sangaris military operation in 2013 in a bid ‘to maintain peace in its impoverished and chronically restive former colony’ after the outbreak of inter-communal violence between Muslim and Christian militias that has killed thousands. The military mission is due to conclude at the end of the current year, after a progressive draw-down. The United Nations announced in April that it has documented 108 new cases of sexual abuse committed by French troops mostly against minors, describing them as “sickening” and urging investigations that “leave no stone unturned.”