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UNMISS rejects to involve South Sudan in sexual crimes probe

Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Sylivia Adzo Sowlitse commands the Ghanaian police unit at the UN protection p site in Bentiu, on 19 September 2017 (UNMISS photo)
March 3, 2018 (JUBA) — The United Nations Mission in South Sudan has declined Juba demand to be included into the alleged sexual crimes carried out by Ghanaian peacekeepers in Wau Protection of Civilians ( POC) site.

The South Sudanese government on Friday cast doubts on the neutrality of the United Nations the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to probe the allegations of sexual abuse in Wau and called to be associated to the investigation or to task an independent body with the process.

In a statement released on Saturday, UNMISS rejected the demand of the South Sudanese foreign ministry pointing that the OIOS "is not part of UNMISS. It is an independent office and reports directly to the United Nations General Assembly".

"It is, therefore, appropriate that the OIOS investigate," further stressed the mission.

South Sudanese courts cannot try the perpetrators of the sexual assault because of their diplomatic immunity.

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 collaborate with the UN investigation body but also demanded to deploy its investigators into the protection site to better understand the conditions of the sexual assaults.

The UNMISS said all the 46 Ghanaian police officers are in Juba where the investigation would take place.

"Our priority is to put the victims’ rights and dignity first and ensure that there is transparency and accountability for such actions," reassured the statement before to reiterate that "UNMISS has a zero tolerance, no excuses, and no second chances approach".

(ST)