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Report on Indian peacekeepers' misconduct false: UN
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April 29, 2008 15:45 IST
Last Updated: April 29, 2008 16:06 IST

The United Nations has refuted the allegation that there was widespread wrongdoing by the Indian and Pakistani peacekeepers in Congo and asserted that a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation, which made such charges, was based on questionable sources.

The report was misleading and false and neglected to mention a number of important factors, senior UN officials said, stressing that where charges were substantiate, action had been taken.

In a letter to the BBC, head of the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guhenno said that there was no evidence for many of the charges, and that UN investigators had taken action against those involved when they had been able to substantiate allegations of misconduct.

Where the allegations were substantiated, he said the UN had asked the governments of India and Pakistan to take appropriate action and was waiting to hear what measures had been taken, he said.

Answering reporters' questions on Monday, a senior official from the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services said that investigators had followed up every allegation against peacekeepers of its operation in the Congo, but had been unable to substantiate most of them.

In some cases, investigators had interviewed the sources cited by the BBC, but had been given different information, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The BBC report had alleged that Pakistani troops with the mission had engaged in illegal gold trafficking and re-arming of militia groups and the Indian troops were involved in illegally buying gold and using a UN helicopter for exchanging of ivory for ammunition. It also alleged that the UN investigations were blocked for fear of alienating India and

Briefing reporters, UN deputy spokesperson Marie Okabe said the BBC report was based on allegations two to three years old, which have been investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight.

"Much of the new information presented by the report is either hearsay or comes from sources, such as the militia leaders, whose integrity and motivation are highly questionable, as they themselves were arrested and put in prison by the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo peacekeepers," he said.

OIOS investigations, Okabe said, found cases of misconduct by a handful of individuals but no evidence of systematic wrongdoing.

"The allegations of gold trafficking concerned three individuals. One has to be careful not to smear the whole country's contingent or the UN as a whole on the basis of individuals' actions," she added.

She also strongly denied that senior UN officials were involved in the cover up or that they had withheld information from member states. The United Nations is following up the disciplinary action taken by member states in cases where OIOS found misconduct.

Under the agreement with troop contributing countries, the United Nations asks for withdrawal of anyone against whom charges of misconduct are upheld by its investigators, but only member states can take action against their personnel.

In his letter, Guehenno said while it is impossible to have no incidents of abuse among more than 1,10,000 UN peacekeepers, the UN is committed to zero tolerance, zero complacency and zero impunity.

"We are committed to working with our partners in the troop and police contributing communities to address incidents of misconduct when they do occur and to ensure that the unacceptable actions of a few do not undermine the good work being done by so many," Guhenno said.

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