A British United Nations official has escaped prosecution for allegedly raping a teenage girl in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), despite an investigation that found credible evidence against him.
The unidentified male peacekeeper reportedly was working for the UN mission in the African country in July 2017, when he reportedly gave a 16-year-old Congolese girl £ 3,600 and goods in exchange for sex.
The alleged victim’s mother reported that her daughter had been raped to Congolese authorities. When they apparently showed little interest, she then contacted the UN mission.
The UN Office of Internal Surveillance Services (OIOS), the global body’s internal affairs division, then investigated the family’s allegations and concluded months later in a report that their claims were ‘substantiated’.
The employee was fired and the British delegation to the UN in New York was notified of the matter. His whereabouts and current employment status are unknown.
Dame Barbara Woodward, the British ambassador to the UN, told the Times that the case had been referred by her office to the National Crime Agency (NCA) in 2018.
However, the NCA reviewed the UN report and consulted the Crown Prosecution Service before deciding not to open a full investigation.
A woman and child in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, August 5, 2019. Photo file
Clearly, prosecutors decided there were too many inconsistencies in the evidence and difficulties operating in the DRC to get the case up to the criminal proof standard in the UK.
The UK authorities have extensive powers to investigate and prosecute alleged sex crimes committed by UK citizens abroad.
But campaigners for alleged victims of sex offenses said the case was a mockery of the UK’s claim that it is leading the global effort to improve protection in the aid sector.
Code Blue’s Paula Donovan told the Times: ‘The extensive public relations conferences and photo opportunities in the UK did nothing to the child who called for help after a British UN official raped her and bribed her family with hush money.
“Knowing the public would never find out, the UK decided behind closed doors not to even send a detective to investigate a series of child rapes.”
A summary of the OIOS report on the case stated that “an employee raped a 16-year-old Congolese woman and then continued to sexually abuse the victim by engaging in transaction sex in exchange for money and goods.”
It concluded, “The investigation substantiated the report and further substantiated a $ 5,000 settlement agreement between the staff member and the minor’s parent.”
A UN peacekeeping spokesman reportedly told the Times newspaper, “Sexual exploitation and abuse is unacceptable.”
The employee was fired and the British delegation to the UN in New York was notified of the matter. His whereabouts and current employment status are unknown
A spokesperson for the NCA told MailOnline: “ In February 2018, the FCDO referred a case to the NCA, following a United Nations referral regarding an alleged crime committed in DRC.
The referral and available evidence were fully reviewed and the NCA ruled that there was no realistic likelihood that an investigation for an offense under the Sexual Offenses Act (2003) met the criteria on which it would be charged before the prosecutor. can be brought. ‘
They added: ‘The FCDO and NCA are committed to protecting and protecting children around the world from abuse, with the primary goal of preventing this from happening.
“We are applying a range of measures, including working closely with international partners to help build capacity in the country to address the threat, share information and track the travel of violators.
Where we know that British nationals sexually abuse children abroad, we will do everything we can to ensure that offenders are brought to justice, whether in the country where the crimes are committed or here in the UK. ‘
The UN peacekeeping, the FCDO, the OIOS and the British delegation to the UN in New York have all been contacted by MailOnline for comment.
It’s because the UK has cut aid funding for Oxfam following allegations of sexual misconduct against charity workers in DRC.
Dame Barbara Woodward, the British ambassador to the UN, told the Times that the case had been referred by her office to the National Crime Agency (NCA) in 2018. full investigation
Oxfam confirmed last week that two employees in DRC have been suspended as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of abuse of power, including bullying and sexual misconduct.
In a statement, the FCDO said: ‘All organizations providing for UK aid must meet the high safety standards necessary to keep the people they work with safe.
“Given the most recent reports, which call into question Oxfam’s ability to meet those standards, we will not consider new funding for Oxfam until the issues are resolved.”
An Oxfam spokesperson said the charity is aware of the FCDO statement and is seeking more information, adding: ‘The Charity Commission and FCDO have been properly notified and we will notify them. continue to be informed when the investigation concludes its work. ‘
Oxfam has been active in the DRC since 1961, with its work mainly focused on humanitarian projects, such as providing long-term access to clean drinking water.
The Times newspaper reports that the allegations against Oxfam personnel in the country are set out in a 10-page letter sent to charity bosses in February.
The letter reportedly contains allegations against 11 people and has been signed by more than 20 current and former Oxfam employees, with claims ranging from sexual harassment and harassment to systematic fraud and corruption.
Oxfam has been in the spotlight in recent years after the Charity Commission found in 2019 that it failed to fully disclose that staff working in disaster areas had sexually assaulted children.
In February, Oxfam’s tight scrutiny by the Charity Commission was lifted after it implemented “ sweeping ” reforms following a 2019 report conducted by its staff following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.