Heeding Annan’s zero-tolerance on sex abuse, UN suspends two soldiers in Burundi

17 December 2004

Implementing Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s policy of zero tolerance for sexual abuse by United Nations personnel, the UN mission in Burundi has suspended with immediate effect two military peacekeepers caught in the latest in a series of allegations of such wrongdoing.

The two soldiers are under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct last weekend in Muyinga on the border with Tanzania, and an official investigation that began on Monday will conclude its work quickly, the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) said today.

“This mission will not waiver from its responsibility to the Burundian people and the international community to ensure absolute implementation of the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel,” it added.

No further details or comments will be provided for the time being in order not to prejudice the official investigation, ONUB said.

Last month Mr. Annan responded to charges that UN peacekeeping personnel in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – both civilian and military – committed sexual exploitation and abuse, and vowed to put an end to such practices and hold the perpetrators responsible.

“I am afraid there is clear evidence that acts of gross misconduct have taken place. This is a shameful thing for the United Nations to have to say, and I am absolutely outraged by it,” he added then after receiving a briefing on investigations initiated by the UN into the allegations, which he said concerned only a small number of personnel. “But it is vital that the investigations be speeded up,” he declared in a statement.


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