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Indian peacekeeper accused of sexual misconduct in Congo

July 15, 2010 08:13 IST

An Indian peacekeeper has been accused of sexual misconduct in the UN peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Anayansi Lopez of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has said.

But Lopez, however, declined to give any further details as investigation was still going on.

UN assistant spokesperson Farhan Haq confirmed that the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has received an allegation of sexual exploitation against two military personnel serving in the peacekeeping force in DRC.

"An investigation is currently being conducted," Haq said.

"As due process must be respected, once the investigation process has concluded, we will be in a position to provide more information. It was not possible to say how long the investigation would last, Haq told PTI adding when the UN had completed its investigation it would refer the matter to the national authorities.

A senior official at the Indian mission to the UN noted that cases of different kinds of misconduct were regularly referred to the Indian authorities once a "prima facie" case against the accused had been established.

The Indian military

then followed up with an investigation.

No case of sexual misconduct had been referred to the Indian mission in the past three months.

Lopez, however, noted that the Government of India had been informed of the investigation and had sent a National Investigating Officer to assist the OIOS to look into the allegations.

The act of sexual misconduct comes after the appointment of Lieutenant-General Chander Prakash as the Force Commander for the UN peacekeeping force in DRC (MONUSCO) by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Two years ago, officials of the world body uncovered evidence that UN peacekeepers from India may have engaged in sexual abuse in DRC.

There are presently 18,884 military personnel and 1,223 police personnel in Congo.

Among the South Asian countries troops have come from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal to the Central African country.

MONUSCO (previously called MONUC), the UN Stabilization Mission in Congo has been there since 1999 following a ferocious war between the government and the rebels that claimed approximately four million lives.

A peace agreement was signed in 2003 but fighting continues in several parts of the country.

Betwa Sharma in United Nations
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