The United Nations has investigated allegations of sexual exploitation or abuse against 313 members of peacekeeping missions since the start of 2004, resulting in the dismissal of 17 staff and the forced repatriation of 161 others, according to an update released today by the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO).
The update, compiled between 1 January 2004 and 23 August this year and covering completed investigations, indicates that inquiries by the individual missions or by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) have been launched against the full range of staff on peacekeeping operations, including troops, police officers, civilian personnel, UN Volunteers and contractors.
The greatest number of investigations was made into military personnel: at least 206 individuals in that category faced probes, with 144 people, including seven commanders, repatriated or rotated on disciplinary grounds.
But there were also investigations against 84 civilians, leading to the dismissal of 10 staff members and seven UN Volunteers. Another seven volunteers were severely reprimanded and the work period of one contractor was not extended. Some 17 police officers were also repatriated after the completion of inquiries against 23 people.
In total, 109 peacekeeping personnel were either cleared of all charges or the allegations against them could not be substantiated.
By far the worst affected operation was the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known by its French acronym MONUC, where investigations were carried out against 202 staff members – mostly military personnel, but also civilians and police officers.
The UN is also currently investigating a suspected child prostitution ring involving MONUC peacekeepers and Government soldiers that came to light earlier this month, and also has ongoing inquiries covering conduct in missions in Liberia and three other places.
The DPKO update also detailed how some UN Member States have conducted investigations against their own nationals as a result of the allegations, leading to a range of further penalties, including jail sentences, dismissal from their armed forces or demotion in rank.