More sex abuse by UN troops alleged in C. African Republic

Updated 05 February 2016
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More sex abuse by UN troops alleged in C. African Republic

UNITED NATIONS: A human rights group alleged Thursday that at least eight women and girls were raped or sexually exploited by UN peacekeepers late last year in Central African Republic, and the world body announced that, following a new policy, more than 100 troops would be sent home.
Human Rights Watch said a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old alleged that peacekeepers gang-raped them near the airport in Bambari, the country’s second-largest city.
The UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic said later Thursday it had identified seven new possible victims in Bambari in cases that Human Rights Watch brought to its attention.
The UN said the soldiers implicated in the cases are from the Republic of Congo and Congo.
The mission said 120 soldiers from the Republic of Congo who were deployed to Bambari from Sept. 17 to Dec. 14 will be repatriated after an investigation is carried out. In the meantime, it said, they will be confined to barracks.
A fact-finding expert sent to Bambari found “sufficient initial evidence” that five alleged victims were minors and had been sexually abused, and that one adult had been sexually exploited, the mission said. The expert was unable to interview the seventh alleged victim. One allegation by Human Rights Watch had been previously reported and is currently under investigation, the mission said said.
Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the UN envoy for Central African Republic who traveled to Bambari on Thursday, expressed outrage and shame at the latest allegations.
The UN has been unable to explain why so many rapes and other sexual abuse by peacekeepers have been alleged in Central African Republic, which has been gripped by deadly violence between Christians and Muslims since late 2013. Thousands of UN and other peacekeepers have been in the country since then.
On Friday, UN Assistant Secretary-General Anthony Banbury came close to tears as he described four new child sex abuse cases in the country involving UN troops and police from Bangladesh, Congo, Niger and Senegal. It was the first time the world body had publicly named countries whose UN personnel are accused, as part of a new policy.
For all of 2015, Banbury said, there are likely to be 22 confirmed allegations of sexual abuse or exploitation in the UN’s peacekeeping mission in CAR, though that may rise as a result of Thursday’s allegations.


Sharer of New Zealand mosque shooting video gets 21 months

Philip Neville Arps, left, appears for sentencing in the Christchurch District Court, in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (AP)
Updated 18 June 2019
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Sharer of New Zealand mosque shooting video gets 21 months

  • Under New Zealand laws aimed at preventing the distribution of objectionable material, Arps faced up to 14 years imprisonment on each count

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: A Christchurch businessman who shared a video of worshippers being slaughtered at a New Zealand mosque was sentenced on Tuesday to 21 months in prison.
Philip Arps had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing the video, which was livestreamed on Facebook by a gunman on March 15 as he began killing 51 people at two mosques.
Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said that when questioned about the video, Arps had described it as “awesome” and had shown no empathy toward the victims.
The judge said Arps had strong and unrepentant views about the Muslim community and had, in effect, committed a hate crime. The judge said Arps had compared himself to Rudolf Hess, a Nazi leader under Adolf Hitler.
“Your offending glorifies and encourages the mass murder carried out under the pretext of religious and racial hatred,” the judge said.
O’Driscoll said Arps had sent the video to 30 associates. The judge said Arps also asked somebody to insert crosshairs and include a kill count in order to create an Internet meme, although there was no evidence he’d shared the meme.
Under New Zealand laws aimed at preventing the distribution of objectionable material, Arps faced up to 14 years imprisonment on each count.
In other cases, at least five other people were also charged with illegally sharing the shooting video. An 18-year-old was jailed in March while the others weren’t kept in custody. The teen is accused of sharing the video and an image of the Al Noor mosque with the words “target acquired.” He is next due to appear in court on July 31.
The judge said Arps had argued he had a right to distribute the video under the banner of freedom to pursue his political beliefs.
Arps’ lawyer Anselm Williams told the judge that Arps should not be sent to prison.
“It’s my submission that this court needs to be very careful to sentence Mr. Arps based on what it is that he has actually done, and what he accepts he has done, not on the basis of the views that he holds,” Williams said.
After the hearing, Williams said Arps had filed an appeal against his sentence at the High Court, but declined to comment further.
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, last week pleaded not guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism in the mosque shooting case. His trial has been scheduled for next May.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has helped lead a global pledge named the “Christchurch Call,” aimed at boosting efforts to keep Internet platforms from being used to spread hate, organize extremist groups and broadcast attacks. New Zealand has also tightened its gun laws and banned certain types of semi-automatic weapons since the attack.