Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, December 19, 2004

South Africa Wants UN Sex Scandal Report

Someone at the UN saw fit to leak an already months-old internal report on the Peacekeeper sex scandal to the New York Times and Washington Post, but nations whose Peacekeepers are suspected of child abuse and rape in Congo have not yet seen it, China's Xinhua News Agency reports.

If the UN has no authority to hold tribunals over Peacekeepers -- and why exactly is that the case? -- then why haven't the countries that can try their nationals for these crimes being kept out of the loop? Reform #1 should be a mechanism for bringing the military and court systems of involved countries into the picture as quickly as possible; reform #2 should be the establishment of a courts martial system in the UN, even if it has a Milosevic-esque pace.

Here's the Xinhua story, courtesy of Nexis:

S. Africa waiting for UN report on peacekeepers' sex scandals
December 19, 2004

South Africa's Defense Department said on Sunday that it is still waiting for official information of the United Nations on allegations of sexual misconduct of their troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

A UN report, completed in June and leaked to the media last week, documents 68 cases of rape, prostitution and pedophile by peacekeepers from several countries including South Africa. [As noted in an earlier post, the actual number currently being investigated is 150.] Defense ministry spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi said South Africa had not yet been shown the UN report.

"The troops in the Congo are under United Nations' command. If there is wrongdoing by troops from a particular country, the UN would bring it to the attention of the country concerned," Mkhwanazi was quoted as saying by the SAPA news agency.

Mkhwanazi said the only case the department was involved with in at the moment was a case against Leutenant-Colonel Koos van Breda, who is charged with sexually assaulting his Congolese interpreter while in the DRC last year. Van Breda has appeared before a South African military tribunal in the DRC, and his case will continue to be heard in Pretoria, he said.

Until approached by the UN, the department would not act on the allegations, Mkhwanazi added.

Meanwhile, South Africa's biggest opposition party Democratic Alliance urged the government to ask the UN for access to the report so that speedy action could be taken to investigate those alleged to be responsible. "If we are to be involved in future peacekeeping initiatives, the credibility of our troops as peacekeepers is vital," said the party's spokesperson Rafeek Shah.