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Indian peacekeepers involved in 3 cases of sexual exploitation: UN reports

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United Nations: A UN report says that Indians in its peacekeeping operations were involved three substantiated cases of sexual exploitation or abuse between 2010 and 2013.

During those four years, there was a total of 64 substantiated cases of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, according to the report released Friday. More than 100,000 uniformed personnel serve in UN peacekeeping operations.

For context, the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), which looked into allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations, however, noted in its report that largest contributors of troops to the UN like India had lower incidence of cases of abuse.

India, which currently has over 8,000 personnel in the peacekeeping operations, is one of the largest contributors to the UN.

The other largest contributors of uniformed personnel to the UN are Pakistan, which has more than 8,750 in UN operations and had four substantiated cases, and Bangladesh with over 9,000 personnel and two such cases.

“While many variables, including contingent size, could affect the numbers of substantiated allegations, it appears that the largest TCCs (troop contributing countries) do not have the highest number of substantiated allegations against their personnel,” the report said.

Britain, which has fewer than 300 personnel serving in UN operations, had one substantiated case. South Africa with 2,160 had the highest number of cases, nine. Uruguay with under 1,500 personnel had eight cases.

The UN Department of Field Services, which deals with the deployment of personnel in peacekeeping operations, said in response to the report, that given the huge number of troops deployed “it can easily be argued that such data would more appropriately point to individual failings than to the overall attitude of a member state’s military forces towards SEA (sexual exploitation and abuse).”

The report lacked specific information about the incidents, except for one case against Pakistani police personnel in Haiti involving the abduction and rape of a 13-year-old boy.

According to the report, besides outright violence and rape, many cases involved troops providing gifts to women and girls, exploiting their poverty. In some of the instances, the women were given food and supplies for babies and in others, gifts like jewelry, clothing and electronics.

One of the areas of concern in the report was the lack of action by many countries sending personnel to the UN operations when complaints of sexual abuse were made. It would appear that India has been cooperating with the UN when complaints arise and taking action as it was not listed among the nations that had not complied with its requests for reports on follow-up actions.

In an earlier case involving Indian peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008, India ordered 12 officers and 39 soldiers to undergo DNA tests to see if they had fathered children with local women. (IANS)

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

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It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

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President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)