African Union to probe sex abuse by AMISOM troops in Somalia

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

THE African Union (AU) has established a team to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by Ugandan and Burundian troops serving under the AU Mission in Somalia.

According to AMISOM, the chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma authorized the deployment of an investigation team into the allegations against AU personnel made by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Last month, the HRW published a damning 71-page report titled, “The Power These Men Have Over Us: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by African Union Forces in Somalia.” The report documented the sexual exploitation and abuse of Somali women and girls at two AMISOM bases in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, since 2013.

In a statement issued on Friday by AMISOM, the team comprised of four investigators, including two women is from Ghana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

In a statement Eloi Yao, the AMISOM spokesperson said that the investigators have the requisite training, qualifications, expertise and experience at national, regional and international levels which they would bring to bear in the discharge of this very important responsibility.”

The team is to conduct investigations into the specific allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse made against AMISOM personnel, particularly the Ugandan and Burundian contingents as well as AMISOM civilian personnel.

The investigators will establish the facts with respect to the allegations so that a determination can be made on whether the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse occurred or not.

Also, the team is assigned to establish, if they occurred, the duration that such actions have been taking place and the actions taken by the AMISOM leadership that either contributed to, or deterred the alleged actions from occurring.

“The Investigation Team will conduct its assignment in an independent, professional and transparent manner. The Investigation Team will be responsive to the needs of alleged victims and potential witnesses as well as to the wishes of all concerned to find out the truth about these allegations,” said Yao in a statement.

Zuma also appointed an assessment team consisting of academics and women activists with special expertise on victim of sexual violence, protection and law enforcement and peace and security that will concurrently conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine the extent, nature, patterns and trends of sexual exploitation and abuse in AMISOM. This is intended to inform and guide the AU in its policy and response mechanisms not only for AMISOM but for all its Peace Support Operations in Somalia.

The two teams are expected to complete their assignments by next month (November 30), after which they will submit their reports to the AU Chairperson.