Investigations

UN Peacekeeping Abuse

UN peacekeepers in Haiti implicated in child sex ring

‘I did not even have breasts,’ said one girl, telling investigators that from ages 12 to 15, she had sex with nearly 50 peacekeepers, including a ‘Commandant’ who gave her 75 cents

April 12, 2017

By Paisley Dodds

In the ruins of a tropical hideaway where jetsetters once sipped rum under the Caribbean sun, the abandoned children tried to make a life for themselves. They begged and scavenged for food, but they never could scrape together enough to beat back the hunger, until the UN peacekeepers moved in a few blocks away.

The men who came from a far-away place and spoke a strange language offered the Haitian children cookies and other snacks. Sometimes they gave them a few dollars. But the price was high: The Sri Lankan peacekeepers wanted sex from girls and boys as young as 12.

“I did not even have breasts,” said a girl, known as V01 — Victim Number One. She told UN investigators that over the next three years, from ages 12 to 15, she had sex with nearly 50 peacekeepers, including a “Commandant” who gave her 75 cents. Sometimes she slept in UN trucks on the base next to the decaying resort, whose once-glamorous buildings were being overtaken by jungle.
Justice for victims like V01 is rare. An Associated Press investigation of UN missions during the past 12 years found nearly 2,000 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and other personnel around the world — signalling the crisis is much larger than previously known. More than 300 of the allegations involved children, the AP found, but only a fraction of the alleged perpetrators served jail time. Read More>>


U.S. says countries must punish United Nations troops for sexual abuse

April 13, 2017

By Edith M. Lederer and Paisley Dodds

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Thursday urged all countries that provide troops for U.N. peacekeeping missions to hold soldiers accountable for sexual abuse and exploitation, an appeal that came after she cited an Associated Press investigation into a child sex ring in Haiti involving Sri Lankan peacekeepers.

She also warned that “countries that refuse to hold their soldiers accountable must recognize that this either stops or their troops will go home and their financial compensation will end.”

Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended that U.N. peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse and exploitation be court martialed in the countries where the alleged incidents take place and said the U.N. would withhold payments to peacekeepers facing credible allegations.

Haley was speaking after the Security Council voted unanimously to end the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti in mid-October, sending a strong signal that the international community believes the impoverished Caribbean nation is stabilizing after successful elections. Read More>>


UN peacekeepers in Congo hold record for rape, sex abuse

September 23, 2017

By Krista Larson and Paisley Dodds

BUNIA, Congo (AP) — She had been orphaned by a brutal conflict, but the 14-year-old Congolese girl found refuge in a camp protected by United Nations peacekeepers.

The camp should have been safe the day she was raped. A delegation from the U.N. was paying a visit, and her grandmother had left her in charge of her siblings. That was the day, the girl says, that a Pakistani peacekeeper slipped inside their home and assaulted her in front of the other children.

But that was not the end of her story. Even though she reported the rape, the girl never got any help from the U.N. She did become pregnant, however, and had a baby.

If the U.N. sexual abuse crisis has an epicenter, it is the Congo, where the scope of the problem first emerged 13 years ago — and where promised reforms have most clearly fallen short. Of the 2,000 sexual abuse and exploitation complaints made against U.N. peacekeepers and personnel worldwide over the past 12 years, more than 700 occurred in Congo, The Associated Press found. The embattled African nation is home to the U.N.’s largest peacekeeping force, which costs a staggering $1 billion a year.  Read More>>


Sri Lanka

Men report rape, branding and torture by Sri Lankan forces

November 7, 2017

By Paisley Dodds

LONDON (AP) — He was barely a teenager when Sri Lanka’s civil war ended, spared by youth from witnessing its horrors. But last year, the brutal conflict caught up with Witness #205.

Raped, branded and beaten, he is one of more than 50 men who say they were abducted and tortured under Sri Lanka’s current government. The men’s previously unpublished accounts conjure images of the bloody civil war that ended in 2009.

The men agreed to tell their stories to The Associated Press and to have the extensive scars on their legs, chests and backs photographed in July and August. The AP reviewed 30 medical and psychological evaluations and conducted interviews with 20 men. The strangers said they were accused of trying to revive the Tamil Tiger rebel group and tortured between early 2016 to as recently as July of this year. Read More>>


Sri Lanka govt faces pressure over torture, rape allegations

November 13, 2017

By Jamie Keaten and Paisley Dodds

Sri Lanka’s government faced increasing pressure Friday to answer for alleged human rights violations following an Associated Press investigation that found more than 50 men who said they were raped, branded or tortured as recently as this year.

The men’s anguished descriptions of their abuses come nearly a decade after Sri Lanka’s civil war ended and days ahead of a review of the Indian Ocean nation by the U.N.’s top human rights body.

Doctors, psychologists, lawmakers and rights groups have appealed to the United Nations to investigate the new allegations published by The Associated Press on Wednesday. The AP reviewed 32 medical and psychological evaluations and interviewed 20 men who said they were accused of trying to revive a rebel group on the losing side of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war. All the men are members of the country’s Tamil ethnic minority.  Although combat ended in 2009, they say the torture and abuse occurred from early 2016 to as recently as July of this year.  Read More>>