TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian Defense Ministry has suspended six of its staff, including the deputy head of the joint military staff, pending an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by Georgian soldiers in the Central African Republic.
Three girls in the Central African Republic have accused Georgian soldiers of sexual harassment, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday.
“These are extremely serious accusations and it is crucial that these cases are thoroughly and urgently investigated,” the UN high commissioner said.
The alleged crimes took place in 2014. Two of the girls interviewed said they were raped by EUFOR soldiers, while two other girls said they were paid to have sexual relationships with other EUFOR soldiers.
“While the nationalities of some of the soldiers remain unclear, three of the girls said they believed their abusers were members of the Georgian EUFOR contingent,” the the office of the UN human rights commissioner wrote.
In Tbilisi, the Defense Ministry responded in a statement that everyone who commits such crimes should be punish.
“No matter who they are, which country they represent and what language they speak. The issue has particular importance for the government and armed forces of Georgia,” the statement reads.
If the charges are proven, those who did this must be punished, the ministry further wrote.
“We will not let anybody damage the reputation of our military. At this stage we will do our best to specify the truth – which means dismissing the charges or punishing the offenders,” Vakhtang Kapanadze, Chief of the Joint Staff said.
“Under our decision, every individual who was under a direct obligation to investigate the facts and establish the truth of this matter in 2014, will be suspended from carrying out their professional duties.
In addition to the UN’s investigation, the Georgian Military Police is also investigating the case.