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In Sierra Leone, UN and partners adopt new measures to prevent sex abuse

In Sierra Leone, UN and partners adopt new measures to prevent sex abuse

The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), along with key partners, has established a committee to look into recent allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation of children by aid workers in the region.

The panel, officially known as the Coordination Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, includes representatives of UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Government of Sierra Leone, has also released a document setting forth principles of responsibility for all those who are engaged in relief activities.

Among other provisions, the Standards of Accountability for all Humanitarian and Development Workers call for aid workers to promote fundamental human rights without discrimination of any kind and treat all persons with respect and courtesy, observing Sierra Leonean law, international law and local customs.

The document declares that relief and development personnel "must never commit any act that could result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to individuals, especially women and children," and should "never condone or participate in corrupt activities or participate in the trafficking of children, drugs, diamond dealing and the trading of arms."

According to the Standards, aid workers "must never abuse their position to withhold humanitarian and development assistance, nor give preferential treatment, in order to solicit sexual favours, gifts, payments of any kind, or advantage." They must also ensure that action be taken in response to all breaches of the standards while upholding "the highest standards of efficiency, competence, integrity and transparency."