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Central Africa rape scandal on the agenda

By Mariam Chanishvili
Tuesday, June 7
Georgia has sent an investigative team to central Africa over a rape scandal related to local females and United Nations (UN) peacekeepers in order to prove the innocence of five Georgian soldiers who served there in 2015.

Minister of Defence Tinatin Khidasheli stated on May 5 the investigative team comprised of representatives from her body, the Ministry for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Georgiaís Chief Prosecutorís Office and an independent expert, who will cooperate with the United Nationís (UN) staff and local law-enforcers to gain sufficient information over the sexual abuse cases.

The UNís High Commissionerís report issued in early 2016 wrote United Nations peacekeepers in the Central African Republic raped or sexually exploited at least eight women and girls between October and December 2015.

Among the survivors were a 14-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman who said peacekeepers gang-raped them near Bambari airport in the center of the country. The Commissionerís report spoke about Georgian soldiersí alleged participation in the illegality.

Georgia is represented by five soldiers in the mission which might increase up to 20 in the near future, as President Giorgi Margvelashvili mentioned several days ago.

Minister Khidasheli is sure of the innocence of the Georgian soldiers, and says the information accumulated by the investigative team and her foreign meetings over the issue would remove questions marks for Georgia over the issue.

ďWe require cooperation and collaboration with the Central African Republicís investigational bodies. Of all the information and documents we have obtained so far, our position has been already formed. After a week, we will have more information,Ē Khidasheli said.

Meanwhile, she announced her trip to the headquarters of the UN and deep discussions regarding the UN High Commissionerís previous report over Georgians alleged participation in the offense.

ďWhen there is not enough evidence, one must not let himself/herself accuse someone or their countryís armed forces,Ē Khidasheli said, and stressed she and the investigative team would end speculation over the topic.