GOMA, Congo – The United Nations (search) calls its policy toward sex crimes in the Congo "Zero Tolerance" — harsh-sounding rhetoric in the wake of a sex scandal between U.N. peacekeepers and local women and girls.
"The policy — as you have certainly heard — is zero tolerance. That's really the policy," said M'Hand Ladjouzi, the program chief of the U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (search) in the city of Goma. "Measures were taken by the military themselves, the commandant of those forces and the leadership of the United Nations, both locally and in New York."
But the world body's pledge to crack down appears to be having little effect. When night falls in Goma, U.N. peacekeepers can still be seen leaving their base in search of sex.
(Editor's Note: This is the second part in a series about problems with the U.N. presence in the Congo. Check back on Sunday for the final story.)
Some of them duck down in the rocks with prostitutes in lava fields. Others patronize brothels located near the base. These are clear violations of the rules under "zero tolerance," which includes a strict curfew and a ban on contact between U.N. peacekeepers and local women.
Some transgressions have even been caught on tape. One video shows local police pulling a U.N. peacekeeper out of a prostitute's bed during a raid.
The sex scandal that triggered "zero tolerance" involved multiple allegations of rape, child pornography and kidnapping, some of it photographed by a U.N. official accused of raping more than one hundred virgin girls. But as the tape suggests, policy from New York isn't changing behavior in the Congo.
Click in the video box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Steve Harrigan. And click here for Harrigan's blog where he writes about his reflections on the Congo.