UN Maintains Zero Tolerance for Peacekeepers Guilty of Sexual Abuse

The United Nations police chief today underlined that the world’s body has maintained a zero tolerance towards any kind of sexual exploitation committed by peacekeeping personnel.

The UN Police Adviser Ann-Marie Orler strongly advocates for a zero impunity approach by Member states as well.

Ms. Orler also called on Member States to ensure that peacekeeping personnel found guilty of sexual exploitation and abuse are prosecuted and that everything possible is done to prevent such crimes from being committed in the first place.

“We need also to do our utmost to prevent sexual exploitation.” -Ms. Orler

Members of the Brazilian contingent of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) participate in a ceremony to handover responsibilities to the new Force Commander of MINUSTAH.

UN Photo/Marco Dormino

The UN, with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in the lead role, has taken several measures to address such abuses by its personnel which includes police officers.

The measures include the introduction of conduct and discipline units in each peacekeeping operation, curfews, placing areas out-of-bounds, rigorous investigations of alleged perpetrators, and their repatriation and punishment by their own countries.

Ms. Orler notes that although abuses have reduced, the fact that a small number have been reported over the last few months means that more must be done to tackle the problem.

“As law enforcement officers, we are expected to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We have a duty of care and protection of civilians as UN peacekeepers.” -Ms. Orler

In September 2011, a high-level Uruguayan delegation have investigated the alleged rape of an 18-year-old Haitian man by Uruguayan members of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the impoverished Caribbean country. The four implicated peacekeepers are being held in isolation at the Uruguayan base in Port-Salut and the commander has been relieved of his post by his country’s military.

Last week, three Pakistani UN peacekeepers in Haiti were repatriated last week following a Pakistani military hearing on the sexual abuse of a 14-year-old Haitian male.

In addition, besides any disciplinary action which is taken by the police-contributing country, any UN police officers against whom allegations of serious misconduct are substantiated is immediately repatriated from the mission, Ms. Orler noted.

The investigation file is then submitted to the Member State for action and DPKO follows up any action taken by the Member State. Any officer repatriated on disciplinary grounds is barred from consideration from future service.

“The United Nations has zero tolerance towards any kind of sexual exploitation. Now is the time to move to zero occurrence.” -Mr. Orler

The UN, which has long had a policy of zero tolerance towards sexual abuse by its peacekeepers, does not have the authority to prosecute as this comes within the jurisdiction of the troop-contributing country, but it will follow up on the case to ensure that the accused are brought to trial and adequately punished should there be cause for prosecution.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.