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Zero tolerance against crimes by UN personnel

Agency, PTI, New Delhi
09/10/2017   0 Comments

India on Saturday sought zero tolerance against criminal acts committed by personnel serving on UN missions globally, saying such crimes are highly damaging for the image and credibility of the world body

Addressing a committee meeting of the UN General Assembly, Yedla Umasankar, First Secretary at Permanent Mission of India to the UN, said that at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases because of the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction of member states

It may be also because of the "legal personality" of the UN that may bestow some immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations in a country, and the functional capacity or the willingness of member states to investigate and prosecute the accused, he said

The issue of accountability of UN personnel for any crimes committed by them during their work for the UN is an important one, he said

"Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world," said the Indian diplomat

Noting that the UN itself can take some disciplinary measures only and does not exercise any criminal jurisdiction, Umasankar said it is unclear whether investigations conducted by the UN may be accepted as evidence in criminal law proceedings in the courts of a member state

It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments, he said

As such India has asked for data from the world body, including total number of registered cases of serious misconduct committed by UN personnel, total number of cases where the host government asked for waiver of immunity for UN personnel, and total number of cases where the UN refused to waive the immunity of their personnel

Participating in the Sixth Committee debate, member countries stressed that nations must ensure accountability for crimes committed by their nationals when deployed as UN officials and experts on mission

But countries remained divided on elaborating an international convention addressing the matter.

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