|Work of some proud SLA.
108 SL peacekeepers face charges of sexual abuse
UNITED NATIONS, NOV 2 (PTI)
As many as 108 Sri Lankan peacekeepers posted in Haiti, are being immediately repatriated back to their country following investigation into charges of sexual exploitation and abuse.
They are expected to leave Haiti tomorrow. A UN spokesperson said the charges involved payment for sex.
Under the agreement with the world body, it is for the troop contributing countries to take any disciplinary action or prosecute their military personnel.
The spokesperson said the world body would provide all possible assistance to the Sri Lankan government if it undertakes disciplinary measures to address 'this serious issue at the national level.'
The spokesperson said on receiving the allegations, the mission requested an immediate investigation by the Office of Oversight Services (OIOS) and Sri Lanka sent a high level probe team, including a female investigation officer.
Following the receipt of the report, a decision was taken to withdraw the battalion. Among those being repatriated are three officers.
'Issues of command accountability within the contingent will be addressed by the mission in cooperation with the Sri Lankan authorities,' she said.
'The United Nations and Sri Lanka take this matter very seriously and reiterate their shared commitment to both the Secretary-General's zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to best practices in peacekeeping,' the spokesperson added.
The world body and Sri Lanka, she added, 'deeply regret' the incident which occurred despite efforts to ensure highest standards of conduct.
Peacekeepers accused of abuse in Haiti
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - More than 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers have been accused of sexual exploitation and abuse in Haiti and will be sent home on Saturday, the United Nations said, in the latest sexual abuse scandal involving U.N. peacekeeping missions.
U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said on Friday 108 of Sri Lanka's 950 soldiers in Haiti were being sent home on disciplinary grounds.
'The United Nations and the Sri Lankan government deeply regret any sexual exploitation and abuse that has occurred,' Montas told reporters, adding that U.N. authorities were working to assist the victims.
Asked about the specific allegations against the peacekeepers, Montas said they involved 'transactional sex.'
'There is a question of some underage girls,' she added.
Montas said Sri Lanka would take further action against those accused of abuse. 'They are back under national jurisdiction. So far Sri Lanka has said ... that they are going to be prosecuted in Sri Lanka.'
Over the last few years as peacekeeping missions have expanded, reports of abuse have spread in various African nations, especially the Democratic Republic of the Congo, despite the U.N.'s declared 'zero-tolerance' policy.
The United Nations largely ignored sexual exploitation by peacekeepers and other field staff for decades, launching a public crackdown only in recent years after reports of abuse surfaced in the Congo.
A 2005 U.N. report said soldiers should be punished for any sexual abuse, their pay docked and a fund set up to assist any women and girls they impregnated. But member nations have not agreed.
Edited By - BitterTruth - 2 Nov 2007 20:12:04 GMT