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UN 'taking into account' reports of recent rape and torture in vetting Sri Lankan peacekeepers

The spokesperson for the UN Secretary General, Stéphane Dujarric said staff would be "taking into account" a report published by the Associated Press yesterday of recent rape and torture of Tamils by Sri Lankan security forces when assessing troops to serve as UN peacekeepers. 

Asked by the Inner City Press what the UN's reaction was to the AP report and how the UN ensures that troops who have engaged in torture are not deployed as peacekeepers, Mr Dujarric said, 

"As a matter of course, there is screening done in partnership with DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] and DFS [Department of Field Support] on ensuring that none of the troops that are committed to UN peacekeeping have any human rights abuses, allegations or issues hanging over their head.  So, that's a screening process."

Asked to clarfiy whether troops are self-certifying or whether the new reports would be taken into account, the spokesperson said, "I'm sure that our… my colleagues upstairs are taking these things into account."

See transcript in full below: 

Question:  I wanted to ask you, there's a very detailed story in the Associated Press about torture in Sri Lanka.  They've interviewed 50 individuals who were applying for asylum who give detailed accounts of being tortured under the current, not past, Government of Sri Lanka and saying that the military itself was involved.  So, I'm wondering, one, if there's any reaction given the UN's involvement in the situation in Sri Lanka but also, given that the UN is increasingly using Sri Lankan troops in UN peacekeeping, what… what do you… when… when detailed allegations like this come forward, what does the UN do to ensure that the very people who may have been engaged in torture…

Spokesman:  As a matter of course, there is screening done in partnership with DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] and DFS [Department of Field Support] on ensuring that none of the troops that are committed to UN peacekeeping have any human rights abuses, allegations or issues hanging over their head.  So, that's a screening process.

Question:  Do they self‑certify?  Or, given that these are new allegations published today… 50 people were interviewed…

Spokesman:  I'm sure that our… my colleagues upstairs are taking these things into account.