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SANDF will not tolerate rights abuses

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JOHANNESBURG, 17 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has said it will not "tolerate any behaviour" by its members that undermined its "good image and international standing."

Three SANDF personnel on a peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are under investigation for misconduct by the UN's in-house watchdog, the UN Office of Internal Oversight.

An SANDF spokesman told IRIN on Thursday that if the UN probe found any SANDF personnel guilty, the army would conduct its own investigations.

The UN cannot discipline peacekeepers. It can only send them home with a request that the country of origin take action.

The probe into allegations that UN peacekeepers in the DRC had sexually exploited and abused women and girls was launched last year. Following the investigations, the UN introduced a no-fraternisation policy, banning its peacekeepers from having sex with local people.

Earlier this year six Moroccan soldiers serving on the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, were arrested in the ongoing sex abuse scandal.

"Without prejudging the case, the SANDF wants to put on record that it has distinguished itself in terms of upholding human rights during peacekeeping operations under the United Nations and the African Union mandates, to such an extent that South Africa is currently ranked as number 10 among participating countries in UN peacekeeping missions," spokesman Major General Mohato Mofokeng said in a statement.


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