A MINUSTAH Mission Evaluation: UN Peacekeeper Abuse

April 19, 2017 HUMAN RIGHTS , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

AP photo

 

By

Ricardo Swire

In March 2017 the United Nations Secretary-General advised MINUSTAH, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, that their numbers will be reduced from approximately five thousand personnel.

On June 1, 2004 UN Security Council Resolution 1542 authorized Haiti’s MINUSTAH operation, an Agreement with UN Security Council Resolution 1529, to exercise “all necessary means” was interpreted as approval to use force in calming the Caribbean territory’s social disorder.

The United Nations’ primary function, noted in UN Charter Article 1, is “to maintain international peace and security.” Article 24 (1) entrusts the Security Council with peacekeeping oversight. In 2004 MINUSTAH replaced the Haiti based Multinational Interim Force (MIF), after the country’s first democratically elected president was exiled by an armed insurrection. Resolution 1529’s preamble cited a threat to “stability in the Caribbean, especially through potential outflow of people to other States in the sub-region.”

MINUSTAH’s objectives presented as Haitian National Police training, enforcement of internal security protocols during local elections and support to the judiciary. Habitation Leclerc Resort’s ruins in Port-au-Prince, a legendary 1980s playground for international stars Mick Jagger and Jackie Onassis, was transformed to MINUSTAH headquarters. The Stabilization Mission comprised 7,340 military ranks, 3,241 police officers, 550 multi-national civilian employees, 150 UN volunteers and 1,000 Haitian civilian staff.

In August 2007 UN senior officials received multiple complaints of “suspicious interactions” between 16th Sri Lanka Peacekeeping Battalion members and Haitian youths. A renowned international media house’s investigation made public the discovery of 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers, who participated in a sex ring that exploited nine children from 2004 to October 2007. The first black Republic’s law classifies sex with an individual under eighteen years of age statutory rape. After presentation of evidence and the Haitian victims’ statements, 114 Sri Lankan peacekeepers were sent home, without facing criminal charges in Port-au-Prince.

By 2010 MINUSTAH assistance contributed to minimized Haitian political violence, considerably restored internal security and reduced crime, especially in Port-au-Prince. After Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake devastation, on October 14, 2011 the Security Council used Resolution 2012 (2011) to adjust MINUSTAH’s manpower. The earthquake killed 102 UN peacekeepers, among 220,000 Haitian casualties.

A July 2011 UN Office of Internal Oversight Services report identified four Uruguayan peacekeepers, led by a Corporal, who gang raped a Haitian teenager and recorded the sadistic act on mobile phone video. The UN S-G Report S2011/540 recommended “drawdown” of the Mission’s military component by 1,600 soldiers. In 2012 three Pakistani peacekeepers, attached to HNP units, raped a thirteen year old mentally retarded boy in Gonaives northern Haiti.

During the official investigation accused Pakistani peacekeepers kidnapped the victim, in an attempt to circumvent his testimony that detailed more than a year of abuse by MINUSTAH staff. Effective June 2012 the Haitian UN Mission’s police manpower was lessened by 1,150 officers. Between 2004 and 2016, 150 formal abuse and exploitation charges were registered against UN peacekeepers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uruguay.

Since August 2016 MINUSTAH staff conducted 10,000 military operations in Haiti. Blue Helmets handled vehicle searches, manned security checkpoints and participated in joint HNP foot patrols. In March 2017 the UN S-G avowed new measures to eliminate sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers. On Thursday April 13, 2017 the Security Council sanctioned the S-G’s suggestions, scheduling implementation by October 2017. More than ten years prior the UN commissioned a special report that echoed declarations similar to the S-G’s recent proposals. Most reforms were never adopted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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