Wednesday, December 09, 2009

UN Peacekeepers punished for sex scandal: a literal slap on the wrist

By Youngbee Kim

December 2nd was the International abolition day of slavery. Remembering all the victims of modern day slavery around the world and sexual abuse, I am searching for the reports on whether the authorities have brought the remedies for the victims of child molestation and sexual assault by the UN peacekeepers in Haiti, Congo, and many other countries. So far, they are nowhere to be found.

How the victims were abused

In Haiti, a Jordanian UN peacekeeper raped and sodomized a Haitian mother of five children in 2005.
[1] In 2007, 13 years and older girls are having sex with UN peacekeeping soldiers for $1 dollar. In Congo, the UN reported in 2004 that the peacekeepers and bureaucrats have been exploited women and children for quite a few years. [2]

The remedies executed so far

In November 6th, 2009, Associate Press released a report on the disciplinary actions against the UN peacekeepers for molesting children on the missions. According to the report, at least 50 UN peacekeepers punished and prosecuted by the state authorities of their origins. The punishment varied from "reduction in military rank to eight months' imprisonment for committing sexual abuses on missions since 2007."
[3] The report also stated that the UN can only investigate allegations of misconduct, but is not able to prosecute the individual offenders. Rather, the each state has the power to prosecute the peacekeepers of their won nationals.

A slap on the wrist

In many places around the world, child molesters serve much longer jail term than what some of the UN peacekeepers had to face, which is only 8 months in jail. In New Jersey, a 61 years old pedophile was sentenced nearly 20 years in jail for molesting children in Thailand.
[4] In Florida, a man was sentenced life in prison for molesting his step daughters as well as nieces. [5] In Australia, a 61 years old man was sentenced for 12 years in jail for molesting 12 children. [6] What is worse is that some of the soldiers were never prosecuted by their own state authorities upon their dismissal from the mission by the UN. [7]

The victims: stuck with a life long trauma

The children who are molested in their young age have to face various symptoms caused by the sexual abuse. Socially, they experience the fear of losing control in a relationship and have hard time trusting other people. They also face challenges in their sexual relationship with the partners as some of the remarks or touch by the partners would likely bring them back to the memories of the abuse. Physically, the victims suffer all kinds of chronic pain including abdominal pain, menstrual pain, intestinal complaints, stomach ache, nausea, back pain, etc.

So the case is closed?

A human rights lawyer in Haiti reports as follows:

In 2009, the UN sent 112 requests for action taken concerning all forms of misconduct, including but not limited to sexual exploitation and abuse, and received 14 responses as of 3 November. By comparison, she noted, the UN sent 192 such requests in 2008 and received six responses on action taken, while 146 requests were made and nine responses received in 2007.
It is not only disturbing to hear that these victims are left with no remedies for their trauma but also that only a few out of many UN peacekeepers faced a lighter punishment than what they actually deserve in committing such a horrendous crime like mentioned above. Currently, the UN still has not obtained the full right to discipline their soldiers and aid workers when they commit a crime during the mission. Some people say that such scandal only proves its inability to retain its own soldiers. Others argue that the UN must be granted more binding power to retain its system. But again, in either case, the victims are left with a life long trauma with no assistance for rehabilitation so far.

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