The Associated Press has an exclusive report on a long-standing problem involving United Nations peacekeepers who target women and children as young as 12 for sex in countries where they are stationed. The AP found thousands of accusations of sexual assault lodged against peacekeepers but the men responsible are very rarely held accountable. The article focuses in particular on a sex ring in Haiti that existed from 2004 to 2007. The AP has a copy of a UN report in which victims are identified by number, i.e. V02:
V02, who was 16 when the U.N. team interviewed her, told them she had sex with a Sri Lankan commander at least three times, describing him as overweight with a moustache and a gold ring on his middle finger…
During her interview with investigators, another young victim, V07, received a phone call from a Sri Lankan peacekeeper. She explained that the soldiers would pass along her number to incoming contingent members, who would then call her for sex.
The UN report eventually concludes the number of sexual assaults is too numerous to describe in detail and involved 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers:
“The sexual acts described by the nine victims are simply too many to be presented exhaustively in this report, especially since each claimed multiple sexual partners at various locations where the Sri Lankan contingents were deployed throughout Haiti over several years,” the report said.
Investigators showed the children more than 1,000 photographs that included pictures of Sri Lankan troops and locations of where the children had sex with the soldiers.
“The evidence shows that from late 2004 to mid-October 2007, at least 134 military members of the current and previous Sri Lankan contingents sexually exploited and abused at least nine Haitian children,” the report said.
After the report was filed, 114 Sri Lanka peacekeepers were sent home, putting an end to the sex ring.
The AP contacted Sri Lanka to ask what happened to the soldiers who were implicated in the crime. After refusing to answer for six months, the government finally replied that the UN considered the matter closed. None of the soldiers were imprisoned and some are still serving in the military.
For its part, a UN spokesman offered the AP this sort of pablum: “Improving the assistance provided to victims, who are at the heart of our response, is fundamental.” The UN continues to send Sri Lankan peacekeepers to Haiti.
Again, the Haitian sex ring is just one example. The AP found 2,000 complaints of sexual abuse over the past 12 years, with over 300 of those involving children. In very few cases are the soldiers involved ever punished. That decision is not up to the UN, but to the home countries who provide the soldiers.
A woman who was raped by a peacekeeper tells the AP, “As far as the U.N. goes, they came here to protect us, but all they’ve brought is destruction.”