Africa

'No charges' for French troops over CAR child sex allegations

French soldiers patrol in the streets of the Combattant neighborhood in Bangui on December 20, 2013, as part of operation Sangaris. Image copyright AFP
Image caption French troops were accused of abusing children as young as nine

Six French soldiers accused of sexually abusing children in the Central African Republic (CAR) have not been charged following a criminal inquiry.

Investigating judges found no evidence to warrant further investigation, the prosecutor's office in Paris confirmed to the BBC.

The assaults allegedly took place at a camp for displaced people near the airport in the capital Bangui.

French soldiers were sent to CAR after the outbreak of the civil war in 2013.

The assaults allegedly took place between December 2013 and June 2014.

The prosecutor's office make the final decision over the charges, but its decision is expected to reflect the finding of the judges,

There is however a three-month window for interested parties to demand fresh investigations.

The UN whistleblower who exposed the allegations in 2015 condemned what he called the "complete impunity" of the perpetrators, and criticised the UN for failing to properly investigate.

There are still other investigations taking place into alleged abuses carried out by French and UN peacekeepers in the CAR.

A 2015 study by independent experts revealed "gross institutional failure" by the UN in the way it responded to abuse allegations.

The study said that children as young as nine were encouraged to have sex in exchange for food or money by troops stationed in the conflict-hit country.

France withdrew its force from CAR in October, saying they succeeded in the mission to stop fighting in the country.

However, some 350 French soldiers stayed behind to provide back up to Minusca, the UN mission in CAR.

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