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Sexual abuse probe against UN Peacekeepers in Congo

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 07, Jun 2011, 16:55 pm IST | UPDATED: 08, Jun 2011, 12:17 pm IST

Sexual abuse probe against UN Peacekeepers in Congo

New Delhi: A court of inquiry has been launched against 12 officers and 39 soldiers for their alleged involvement in cases of sexual abuse while they were deployed as UN peacekeepers in strife-riven Congo by Indian Army, an official said on Tuesday.

The inquiry is being held in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, where the officers and soldiers are being questioned to conclude if they had sexually abused local women and also fathered children while on a UN peacekeeping mission in 2008, the officer at the army headquarters here said.

The court of inquiry is headed by a Brigadier, with two Colonels as its members, he added.

The sexual abuse allegations emerged after DNA tests commissioned by the UN on the children born to local women in Durla in the Congo showed they had "distinctive Indian features". The UN wrote to Indian Army requesting further investigations, with the latest reminder coming in August 2010.

In January, the army asked its Chandimandir-based Western Command to order a court of inquiry and it was constituted on May 24, the officer said.

"There are some allegations and we are investigating into the issue," the officer said, adding that the army headquarters had received an inconclusive report from UN.

"The UN probe into the allegations was inconclusive and that was why they asked us to investigate further," he added.

Following the allegations, the regiment in which the officers and soldiers were serving was recalled from the Congo and attached to the Western Command headquarters.

Earlier too, there have been allegations of sexual abuse and graft against Indian Army officers and soldiers serving in UN missions in the Congo but these have not been proved.

In March 2008, three officers were charged with sexual abuse of a local women while on a holiday in South Africa.

In 2007, there were allegations that some of the Indian peacekeepers had exchanged food and information with the locals for obtaining gold from rebels in North Kivu in the Congo. There were also allegations of Indian soldiers sexually exploiting minor girls in North Kivu.

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