Friday, October 3, 2014

Crime and punishment among UN peacekeepers

PRI has run a disturbing piece by Amy Bracken about a case in which Pakistani UN peacekeepers on duty in Haiti sexually abused a Haitian youth -- and the course of justice thereafter:
In March 2012, the Pakistani contingent in Haiti court-martialed the three men accused of involvement in the rape. All were dishonorably discharged, and one was also sentenced to a year in prison in Pakistan. But both [the victim]’s family and members of the Haitian justice system involved in the case said they only learned of the court-martial after the fact — through the media. Even then, they never learned the names of the accused.
No one I contacted on either the UN or the Pakistani side would discuss the case on the record. The [Conduct and Discipline Unit]’s Sylvain Roy would only speak generally about what the UN does when a UN police commander is implicated. “I don’t see why, if we’ve got evidence ... that accountability would not be requested against the commanding officers,”he says.
When I ask him if the UN could go beyond a request, he says it gets complicated. “Then we’d get into the relationship between the UN and the member state,” he says. “But accountability might not always be enforced in spite of our belief that it could have been.”
If the UN is unhappy with a member state, it can expel its peacekeepers from a mission. But a UN official tells me that, in general, Pakistani peacekeepers are viewed as some of the best. Pakistan is also the biggest contributor to peacekeeping missions, with more than 8,000 police, soldiers and military experts deployed around the world. And although the UN pays the governments that contribute peacekeepers, one UN official says there is a resistance to saying anything to offend those who put their personnel in harm’s way.
Earlier Reuters coverage appears here

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