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Wau groups call to punish UN peacekeepers involved in sexual crimes

Civilians seek protection as they sleep outside the UNMISS compound in Wau following deadly clashes in June 2016 (UNMISS Photo)

March 2, 2018 (WAU) – Wau state civil society network urged the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to probe and punish the allegations of sexual crimes by Ghanaian peacekeepers against vulnerable women inside the protection site of Wau.

On 24 February, UNMISS admitted the allegation of sexual abuse by some members of the Formed Police Unit (FPU) deployed at the UN Protection of Civilians (POC) site in Wau and said they have been moved to Juba for investigation.

In a joint statement released in Friday, civil society groups in Wau condemned "in the strongest terms" the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women who sought protection at the United Nations base

β€œThe civil society will not stand hand folded against such a shameful act by peacekeeping forces. In regard to that such action will not be tolerated and need to be uprooted to avoid re-occurrence,” said the joint statement.

"The UN police who were yesterday protectors turned today to be perpetrators. There is no way for us to describe adequately the evil of such acts, but just withdrawing them is not enough, We want an affirmative action to penalize the perpetrators,” stressed the groups.

The South Sudanese government has called to be involved in the investigation of sexual crimes saying they do not trust the handling of the case by UN investigation body.

However, according to the U.N. rules, and in line with the Status of the Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the UN and South, Sudan peacekeepers are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the countries that sent them to serve abroad.

Ghanaian authorities said ready to cooperate with the United Nations over the investigation of the case as the incriminated police officers will be ruled by its courts.

International officials have recognizes that sexual abuse cases have severely affected the credibility and reputation of UN peacekeeping missions which are generally deployed in the conflict zones to protect civilians.

There were press reports about sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. personnel in several countries like the Central African Republic Darfur, and Haiti.

(ST)