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Alleged Sexual Misconduct by UN Peacekeepers in Haiti

Uruguay to Investigate Alleged Sexual Misconduct by Its UN Peacekeepers in Haiti

New York, Sep 9 2011 5:10PM
A high-level Uruguayan delegation is expected in Haiti soon to investigate the alleged rape of an 18-year-old Haitian man by Uruguayan members of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the impoverished Caribbean country.

At the same time, should the allegations prove true, the UN has an overall strategy in place to provide the victim with legal, medical and psychosocial aid, while the authors of the abuse are generally responsible for the financial compensation, UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) spokesperson Eliane Nabaa told a news conference in Port-au-Prince, the capital.

“While such behaviour is profoundly troubling and inexcusable, the actions of a few unfortunately have the effect of tarnishing those of thousands of others – military, police and civilians – who have served MINUSTAH and Haiti with distinction since 2004,” she said yesterday.

The four implicated peacekeepers are being held in isolation at the Uruguayan base in Port-Salut and the commander has been relieved of his post by his country’s military.

The UN, which has long had a policy of zero tolerance towards sexual abuse by its peacekeepers, does not have the authority to prosecute as this comes within the jurisdiction of the troop-contributing country, but it will follow up on the case to ensure that the accused are brought to trial and adequately punished should there be cause for prosecution, Ms. Nabaa said.

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She stressed that the UN does its utmost to ensure, preventively, that such abuses do not occur, including thought training before troops are deployed to sensitize them to the total respect of human rights and of the customs, traditions and culture of the host country.

Ms. Nabaa cited the case of another Uruguayan peacekeeper who fathered a child in Haiti with a 16-year-old girl. He was sent back to his country, banned from serving in any other UN peacekeeping missions, and obligated by the Uruguayan authorities to support financially the mother and her child.

The 12,000-strong MINUSTAH has been in Haiti since mid-2004 after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest, and in his latest <"">report, released today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls for it to be extended for another year until 15 October 2012.

He notes that for the first time in its history, Haiti has witnessed a peaceful transition from one democratically elected president to another from the opposition, with the inauguration earlier this year of Michel Martelly. But he voices concern at the continuing stand-off between the executive and legislative branches, as well as the uncertainty surrounding constitutional reform.

“At a time when Haiti so desperately needs a committed leadership with a common set of priorities, antagonisms between opposing political forces are casting a shadow on the country’s recent democratic success and threatening its progress towards lasting stability,” he writes. “It is the responsibility of all actors to ensure that this trend is reversed and that the promising gains made in recent years are preserved.”

In the year ahead, MINUSTAH will as a matter of priority support the Haitian authorities, private sector and civil society actors in creating a viable framework for good governance, reform and development.
Sep 9 2011 5:10PM

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