UN peacekeepers suspended over misconduct charges in DRC

The world body is taking action against misconduct by peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a UN spokesman said on Thursday.

“The UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC has taken robust action in response to reports of serious misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse as well as assault by UN peacekeepers,” said Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Dujarric said military police from the mission, known as MONUSCO, followed up on a tip that peacekeepers deployed at a base in eastern DRC were fraternizing after curfew hours at an out-of-bounds bar known to be a place where transactional sex occurs.

He said the mission dispatched military police accompanied by conduct and discipline personnel to the bar to investigate. When the military police attempted to detain the peacekeepers for breaching UN standards of conduct and MONUSCO’s non-fraternization policy, the peacekeepers physically assaulted and threatened the mission personnel.

“There is also evidence indicating a serious failure in the exercise of command and control by senior military officials belonging to the same contingent,” the spokesman said. “The relevant authorities are being informed of the allegations, including a request to deploy a national investigation officer to investigate jointly with the (UN) Office of Internal Oversight Services.”

He said any identified victim would be referred for assistance.

While the spokesman did not identify the country of the contingent involved, there were published reports naming South Africa as the country in question.

MONUSCO remains committed to ensuring the highest standard of conduct among all personnel and to enforcing the secretary-general’s policy of zero tolerance toward sexual exploitation and abuse and the UN’s standards of conduct, said the spokesman.

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