Liberia: UN mission pushes zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse

8 May 2006

Pursuing the United Nations policy of zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by its staff, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has reported eight cases for investigation since the beginning of the year, one of which has been substantiated with the person involved immediately suspended. The other investigations are continuing.

Pursuing the United Nations policy of zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by its staff, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has reported eight cases for investigation since the beginning of the year, one of which has been substantiated with the person involved immediately suspended. The other investigations are continuing.

“The United Nations in Liberia is committed to prevent, identify and sanction the abhorrent practice of sexual abuse and exploitation in full compliance with the Secretary-General’s Bulletin ‘Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse’ and its policy of zero tolerance,” the mission said in a statement.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan instituted the policy following allegations in 2004 against 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 sexual encounter. Some victims were abandoned orphans who were often illiterate.

UNMIL, which is fielding nearly 17,000 uniformed personnel as well as civilian staff in the West African country as it recovers from a vicious civil war, said the eight cases had been referred to the resident OIOS.

An additional instance involved allegations against staff of an implementing partner of a UN agency and relations between the agency and the implementing partner were terminated, UNMIL added, noting that it is cooperating with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Save the Children UK, which recently issued a discussion paper entitled ‘From Camp to Community: Liberia study on exploitation of children.’

“On several occasions the United Nations met with Save the Children UK to discuss the issue of SEA and to offer a collaborative approach to intensify actions against SEA,” the mission said in a statement.

“On these occasions the United Nations has sought information on specific cases to prevent and sanction SEA. Although Save did not discuss the ultimate findings or recommendations of its report with the United Nations, the Organization will continue to vigorously pursue its activities to prevent and deal with SEA.

“The United Nations is committed to continue to work with national authorities and other partners in an effort to ensure a common, effective approach to deal with SEA,” it added.

Steps the Mission has taken include the establishment of a fully staffed Conduct and Discipline Unit to respond effectively to SEA, creation of an In-Country Network to ensure coordination and oversight on prevention, and development of developed a standardized training module on policies, procedures and guidelines for all personnel.

 

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