South Africa is fully committed to rooting out sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers. This was the message delivered by Defence Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

During a high level meeting on peacekeeping on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Mapisa-Nqakula said such allegations are taken in a serious light.

This comes as SABC News exclusively reported that the Secretary General had received a recommendation that he expelled hundreds of SANDF troops over sexual exploitation and abuse allegations in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“South Africa is fully committed to rooting out sexual abuse by peacekeepers and take such allegations in a serious light. Furthermore, South Africa is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, with particular focus on the rights and welfare and protection of women in conflict countries. South Africa, as a member of the Circle of Leadership, has just signed the Voluntary Compact to fully support the Secretary-General’s efforts to implement the policy of zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping operations,” Mapisa-Nqakula explains.

The Compact which opened for signatures last September is intended to send a signal to the world of joint commitment and mutual accountability on the part of the United Nations and Member States on preventing and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse.

She adds: “South Africa is also in the process of finalising the Military Disciplinary Supplement Bill, which will prohibit and criminalise SEA conducts in the area of deployment. Such measures are already been supported by appropriate preventative actions, awareness campaigns and pre-deployment training.”

South Africa fully supports the commitments contained in the Declaration as they place stronger emphasis on comprehensive measures in all aspects mediation, peacekeeping and the protection of civilians, post-conflict recovery and peace-building.

SABC News  asked the Secretary General if he could confirm that he was considering the DPKO recommendation to expel South African troops.

“That has not yet happened, and so I will not comment on something that has not yet happened. Of course, I will be ready to discuss with the South African delegation whatever is relevant in relation to the presence of South African troops, and we cherish a lot the country of South Africans to peacekeeping,” says United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

The Defence department earlier confirmed that they would meet with DPKO leadership later Wednesday.

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