A court in United Nations-administered Kosovo, presided over by an international judge but also involving two judges from the province, has sentenced a UN refugee agency official to three years in prison on one count of sexual abuse of persons under the age of sixteen and one count of falsifying official documents.
According to the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), yesterday's conviction and sentencing of Rashidoon Khan demonstrates both its zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and the independence of the judiciary in Kosovo.
The Mission stressed that in any case of credible allegations of criminal misconduct on the part of any UN staff, immediate investigative and prosecutorial measures will be undertaken in accordance with the applicable law in Kosovo.
The issue of sexual exploitation and abuse came to fore last year with allegations against UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At the time the UN Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) cited payments ranging from two eggs to $5 per encounter. Some victims were abandoned orphans who were often illiterate. Secretary-General Kofi immediately instituted a policy of zero tolerance.
The UN has so far completed investigations of 221 peacekeeping personnel, repatriated 88 uniformed personnel and fired 10 civilians. Criminal prosecutions have ensued in several troop-contributing countries.
All peacekeepers now undergo training on conduct. Agreements with troop-contributing countries are being amended to forbid sexual misconduct. Managers and commanders are on notice of their specific responsibilities, and those who fail to take preventive measures will be dismissed.