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SA soldiers worst sex offenders on UN missions

A recently released United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services report on sexual offences committed by the military on peacekeeping missions has revealed that South African soldiers are the worst offenders.

The report focused on offences in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, South Sudan, Liberia and Haiti. South Africa has more than 2 000 troops stationed in the DRC, Sudan and South Sudan, according to the Times.

The report puts South Africa at the top of the list of offending nations, with nine official allegations, despite not being the biggest contributor of troops to missions. 

The report said the three countries whose soldiers are most abusive were: 

  • South Africa (nine allegations) 
  • Uruguay (eight allegations) 
  • Nigeria (seven allegations)

The report does not detail the nature of the allegations but says some of the offences were committed by more than one soldier.

The Times reported that the ministry of defence did not respond to requests for comment on the report or whether any troops had faced military trials. In terms of the UN agreement, allegations should be investigated by the army of the soldier involved in the alleged misconduct.

Complaints ‘persist’
The UN report says allegations of sexual misconduct persist, and called for improved investigations and transparency and court martials in peacekeeping missions.

The UN received 480 sexual exploitation and abuse allegations regarding its peacekeeping operations and special political missions between 2008 and 2013, with the DRC mission accounting for 214 (45%) of these.

Of the 480 reported allegations, 36% involved minors.

The report follows an outcry over allegations of child sexual abuse by French and African troops in Central African Republic (CAR).

On Monday, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon announced that former Canadian supreme court justice Marie Deschamps would lead a review of how the UN dealt with allegations that French troops sexually abused children in CAR.

‘Transactional sex’
The report revealed that UN peacekeepers routinely buy sex with everything from jewellery to televisions, and even shoes, in countries where they are deployed.

In Haiti, 231 people admitted to having “transactional sexual relationships” with peacekeepers in exchange for “jewellery, ‘church’ shoes, dresses, fancy underwear, perfume, cellphones, radios, televisions and, in a few cases, laptops”.

The women interviewed in the report said they were hungry, homeless or needed items for their babies or their households. A survey of 489 women aged 18 to 30 in the Liberian capital of Monrovia showed that more than a quarter of the city’s women had engaged in sex with UN peacekeepers, usually for money.

When peacekeepers refused to pay, some women in Haiti “withheld the badges of peacekeepers and threatened to reveal their infidelity via social media”, according to the report.

The report pointed to the surveys and interviews done in Haiti and Liberia as indicative of a broader trend in peacekeeping of trading sex for goods.

The UN maintains it is enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct and that it “strongly discourages sexual relations” between its blue helmets and the people they are helping. – AFP, News24.com

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