By William Craddick | Disobedient Media
Last week’s report from the Associated Press revealing the bust of a child sex ring run by United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti was far from the first time the United Nations has been associated with child-abuse rings. The U.N. has for decades been rocked by accusations of sex crimes ranging from rape and abuse of women and minors committed in war zones to participation in human trafficking, prostitution and even production of child pornography involving senior U.N. officials and members of foreign governments. The horrific acts often go unpunished as the result of an overly bureaucratic investigation process, with many perpetrators being sent home where they in many cases do not face prosecution in their own state.
I. Abuses in Haiti
On April 12th, 2017, Associated Press (AP) reported the breakup of a child sex ring that was being run in Haiti by Sri Lankan U.N. Peacekeepers between 2004 and 2007. The report revealed that at least 134 peacekeepers abused nine children and that in the wake of the incident, 114 were sent home. None of the abusers were ever charged in connection with the event. AP found that found that some 150 allegations of abuse and exploitation had been reported in Haiti alone between 2004 and 2016, with perpetrators coming from Bangladesh, Brazil, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uruguay and Sri Lanka. Public Radio International reported that victims of Pakistani peacekeepers included victims who were mentally disabled. Reuters mentioned that only two of the abusers from Pakistan faced sentencing at home, and were given a mere year in prison for the crime once it was finally investigated by the Pakistani military.
II. Abuses In The Central African Republic And West Africa
Stories similar to those emerging from Haiti have also plagued the U.N.’s missions across Africa. On February 27th, 2016, the Washington Postreported that they had interviewed seven underage victims who claimed that they were sexually abused by peacekeepers from the U.N. MINUSCAmission in the Central African Republic (CAR). The Post also cited reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International which documented additional cases of child rape and murder committed by U.N. troops stationed in the CAR.
The shocking incidents first surfaced after an official from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Anders Kompass, leaked documents and testimony to whistleblowing organization AIDS-Free World and French prosecutors. Kompass revealed that the abuse had been ongoing since before MINUSCA began in 2014, when French troops were sent to the CAR as part of Operation Sangaris. The abuses included cases of forced bestiality. The leak was just one of many instances which Kompass had heard about from coworkers and contemporaries in other parts of the U.N. Foreign Policy reported in April 2016 that more than 150 accusations of sexual misconduct had been filed by women and children with the U.N., though the true number of victims was likely much higher, with at least 108 cases reported in a single province alone.
Babacar Gaye, the Senegalese head of the U.N.’s mission in the CAR, was fired in the wake of the scandal. Although Anders Kompass was ultimately exonerated for leaking documents and information about the abuses, he resigned from the U.N. in June 2016, citing a total lack of accountability among U.N. officials and his frustration at the impunity with which they had ignored the allegations of misconduct. AIDS-Free World also published additional documents which outlined reports that had surfaced in 2001, revealing additional cases of sexual exploitation by peacekeepers in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.