Year after year, since 2005, the United Nations has proclaimed its “zero-tolerance” policy for UN peacekeepers sexually exploiting or even raping the people they’re sent to protect. Year after year, the abuse continues. One of the more recent horrors took place last year in Haiti, when five UN peacekeepers allegedly pulled an 18-year-old Haitian into a UN base, pinned him down on a mattress, beat and raped him. Part of the scene, in which he screams for help while being assaulted, was caught on video.
Haiti’s president protested. The five peacekeepers, all from Uruguay, were sent home to face prosecution. Uruguay’s ambassador to the UN apologized. But now comes a report from ABC News — “Haiti Outrage: UN Soldiers from Sex Assault Video Freed.” ABC’s Brian Ross reports that the case has apparently stalled. It’s been put on “indefinite hold.” And a UN official has confirmed to ABC that the former peacekeepers have been turned loose. It seems the Uruguayan prosecution could not find the victim, though ABC’s Ross notes that his name and address are well known, “if there is any interest in finding him.”
It gets worse. ABC’s report includes an interview with a UN peacekeeping official, an American, Assistant Secretary-General Anthony Banbury. Asked if there’s any way to ensure that UN peacekeepers accused of sexual exploitation and assault will face justice, he simply admits, “Sometimes we can, sometimes we can’t.” In an earlier incident, when more than 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers in Haiti were expelled for sexually exploiting underage girls, there was no sign they were ever prosecuted. That’s been largely the way of it, as cases of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers have turned up again and again, in places such as the Congo, Bosnia, Cambodia, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, Burundi, Haiti, and South Sudan.