The 44th Duke Awareness Week begins today, Oct. 17, celebrating students across the province who are making a difference in their community. The awareness week has young people, program participants, leaders, board members, parents and volunteers taking part in events that highlight the great work youth are doing in their communities. “Participants in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program push themselves to achieve personal goals in fitness, skill development and community service,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey. “This is an opportunity to recognize Nova Scotian students for the great work they are able to accomplish outside the classroom.” The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program promotes community and national development, while participants learn the life skills that lead to personal growth and achievement. More than 4,000 young Nova Scotians, age 14 to 25, participate in the program each year. For more information, visit www.dukeofed.org/ns.
The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) interviewed 139 people and then investigated their accounts. 16 possible perpetrators from Gabon and 25 from Burundi have been identified through photos and corroborating evidence. Of the 139 victims, 25 were minors who asserted that they were sexually assaulted. Eight paternity claims have been filed, six of which were by minors.The United Nations has shared the report with the Governments of Burundi and Gabon, which includes the names of the identified alleged perpetrators. It has requested that appropriate judicial action proceed in order to ensure criminal accountability.Investigations began in April 2016, several days after the allegations were brought to the attention of the UN. They continued for more than four months and relied primarily on victim and witness testimony due to a lack of medical, forensic, or other physical evidence – the majority of allegations referred to incidents that had taken place between 2014 and 2015. All of the alleged perpetrators had been rotated out of the CAR before the allegations surfaced.“Responsibility for further investigations lies with Burundi and Gabon,” stated a noted to correspondents issued by the UN Spokespersons Office today. The UN has requested a copy of the final national investigation reports to be issued within the next two weeks. If allegations are found to be substantiated and warranted, the commanding officers of the perpetrators will be prohibited from deployment in future peacekeeping operations.The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has strengthened prevention measures and reinforced outreach among communities and peacekeepers throughout the country to improve awareness and reporting on sexual exploitation and other forms of misconduct, particularly in high-risk areas.The Mission regularly monitors conditions and behaviours of the mission’s personnel and partners with other UN agencies and organizations throughout the CAR who provide psychosocial, medical, and legal assistance to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.In the note, the UN condemned in the strongest terms possible any acts of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by peacekeepers or other UN personnel and reaffirmed its commitment to ensure that perpetrators of abhorrent crimes are brought to justice.