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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

South Sudan seeks independent probe into
alleged sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The South Sudanese government on Friday called for the establishment of an independent body to look into allegations of sexual exploitation by a unit of Ghanaian police officers serving under the UN mission in the East African nation.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on Feb. 24 that it recalled a unit of 46 Ghanaian police officers from the northwestern town of Wau and confined them to their base in Juba for preliminary investigation after it received a complaint on Feb. 8 alleging that members of the Formed Police Unit (FPU) engaged in sexual activity with women living at the UN Protection of Civilians (POC) site.

After a meeting with a senior UNMISS official, officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told reporters that the UN mission said the matter will be investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight Services, an independent office within the UN, a proposal the government has rejected.

Baak Valentino Wol, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the government asked UNMISS to allow joint investigation or else an independent body be formed to handle the sex scandal.

“We want an independent or joint investigation because we don’t believe that an investigation conducted by one of their agencies or one of their employees would be fair and just,” Wol said.

In what appears to an escalating between the government and UNMISS, the Foreign Ministry demanded review of the mission’s mandate and closure of the POC 3 site in the capital of Juba amid allegations that the camp is harboring criminals.

“You can’t be a referee and at the same time a player. The UN can’t conduct investigations to itself. If we cannot do a joint investigation with them, we need a body that must not report to the UN and is not paid by the UN,” said John Andruga, director of international organizations at the Foreign Ministry.

“We are demanding that the POC 3 site in Juba be closed down,” Andruga said, noting that UNMISS is yet to respond to the demands of the South Sudanese government.

The UN peacekeeping currently has some 17,000 peacekeeping personnel, including 13,000 soldiers and 1,500 police tasked with protecting civilians and maintaining peace in the war-torn country.

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EARLIER REPORT:

UN mission declines to grant South Sudan
government role in sexual abuse probe

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has rejected a request by the South Sudanese government to carry out joint investigations into the alleged sexual exploitation by a unit of Ghanaian blue helmets serving in the east African country.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a statement that the complaint will be handled by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), an independent office within the UN, because the case is not a criminal one but a breach of UN code of conduct.

“This agency is not part of UNMISS. It is an independent office and reports directly to the United Nations General Assembly,” UNMISS said.

“It is, therefore, appropriate that the OIOS investigate,” the UN mission added.

On Friday, South Sudan rejected the UN-led probe into the alleged sexual exploitation and instead demanded that the government be included in the investigation or else an independent body be formed to handle the issue.

UNMISS said on Feb. 24 that it recalled a unit of 46 Ghanian police officers from the northwestern town of Wau and confined them to their base in Juba for preliminary investigation after it received a complaint of sexual abuse on Feb. 8.

The Formed Police Unit (FPU) were accused of engaging in transactional sex with women under their protection in the UN Protection of Civilians ( POC) site.

UNMISS said the decision to withdraw the police unit was taken immediately on the basis of a preliminary investigation to protect potential victims and witnesses.

“Our priority is to put the victims’ rights and dignity first and ensure that there is transparency and accountability for such actions,” UNMISS said.

“UNMISS has a zero tolerance, no excuses, and no second chances approach,” it added.

The UN peacekeeping mission currently has some 17,000 blue helmets in South Sudan, including soldiers and police tasked with protecting civilians and maintaining peace in the war-torn east African nation. 

             

 

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