UN peacekeepers in CAR
UN peacekeepers in CARReuters

As many as 69 claims of sexual violence were registered against the United Nations (U.N.) peacekeepers from 21 countries in 2015, marking an increase from last year, a report said Friday. The number of such cases was 52 in 2014, and 66 in 2013.

The report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lists the countries whose troops have committed sex crimes while part of U.N. peacekeeping missions.

Leading the list is the Democratic Republic of Congo, with seven allegations, followed by Morocco and South Africa, with four allegations each. The U.N. missions in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Democratic Republic of Congo had registered the maximum number of claims. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) is stationed in the two countries, reports Agence France Presse.

At least 22 cases of sexual violence were registered against peacekeepers in the CAR in 2015. The police from Rwanda, Ghana, Madagascar, Canada, Germany and Senegal have also been named in the report.

Troops, even when part of U.N. peacekeeping missions, are subject to their countries' laws, due to which many personnel are able to get away with impunity. Ki-moon in his report has argued for troops being court-martialled if found guilty while on a U.N. mission. He has also sought for change in national laws to include punishment for sex crimes committed during peacekeeping missions for the U.N., reports the Associated Press.

Of the 69 allegations in 2015, 23 involved minors and 15 were allegations of rape of people above the age of 18, reports the AP.

Of all the countries where the U.N. troops are stationed, the CAR chapter has faced the most criticism, especially after an independent panel in December 2015 said the U.N. was responsible for "gross institutional failure." The organisation had delayed registering of complaints of child abuse by French and other peacekeepers, leading to more such crimes being committed, said the AP report.

"It is deplorable that the U.N. personnel would take advantage of this situation," AFP quoted the report as saying in relation to troops exploiting women and children forced into prostitution due to the ongoing conflict in the CAR.