Meeting with UN staff in Sierra Leone, Fréchette stresses zero-tolerance policy on sex abuse

Meeting with UN staff in Sierra Leone, Fréchette stresses zero-tolerance policy on sex abuse

Louise Fréchette
Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette today continued her tour of United Nations peacekeeping operations in West Africa, speaking to staff and troops in Sierra Leone about the world body's zero tolerance policy regarding sexual exploitation and abuse.

In a meeting with the UN Country Team and senior staff of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), Ms. Fréchette urged that the newly established in-country network on sexual exploitation and abuse be used as a prevention and enforcement mechanism.

She noted that strong leadership is the key to eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse.

The Deputy Secretary-General also acknowledged the dangerous and complex environments in which peacekeeping operations functioned, but said that because of the vulnerability to exploitation of the local population, there was a need to "accept a degree of restriction on…personnel behaviour."

Later during a meeting with President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the Deputy Secretary-General discussed the way forward for the Mission and the future of Sierra Leone, including the need for strengthening of the security forces.

Afterwards she spoke at a forum attended by top UN military and police officers, and emphasized that rules for behaviour, codes, directives and standard operating procedures must be enforced by contingents through national disciplinary law.

Yesterday shortly after her arrival in Sierra Leone, Ms. Fréchette stressed to staff that Secretary-General Kofi Annan's zero tolerance policy must be respected by everyone. "It is an obligation on the part of every United Nations employee to observe the code of conduct," she said. "Our code is very specific."

Tomorrow she travels to Côte d'Ivoire.