Haiti: UN Peacekeepers Accused of Sexual Assault Freed
- Monday, January 09, 2012 9:28 AM
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (defend.ht) - Five United Nations peacekeepers caught on tape in an alleged sexual assault of a Haitian teenager have been freed by a Uruguayan military court, a UN official confirmed.
ABC News reports that UN spokeswoman, Anayansi Lopez, said the men were released from jail while investigators are trying to locate the 18-year-old victim and obtain his testimony - something the Uruguayans said they had been unable to do. Once that occurs, she said, the men will be brought back for trial.
The victim's identity and address are well known in the village of Port Salut, where the alleged assault occurred, though it is unclear if he has remained in the town.
In late September the victim was reported on Haitian radio as being a subject of ridicule and threats. On the 29th of September, the teenage victim claimed his passport at the immigration office in Port-au-Prince. His family made requests for passports as well.
Lawyers for the victim on October 10, denied reports that the victim had already been compensated but the law offices of Mr. Charles Gervais, President of the Port-au-Prince Bar, ensured the public the protection of the teenager.
United Nations peacekeepers enjoy a certain immunity in Haiti that does not avail their soldiers to any justice in Haiti.
Senator Youri Latortue (Artibonite/AAA) proposed a resolution that would lift the general immunity of peacekeepers in the country that would allow the Haitian justice to prosecute individuals accused of crimes outside the lines of the mission.
"We demand, in the case of renewing the mandate of MINUSTAH, scheduled for October 15, the removal of the general immunity of soldiers linked to acts performed outside the exercise of their duties..."
"If a soldier commits a crime outside of his office, upon request of the victim, immunity will be removed and the soldier in question will have to appear before the courts of Haiti, said the senator wants, thereby avoiding any further abuse by peacekeepers blanket immunity granted to them by the Security Council of the United Nations. To this end, the Committee suggests the UN to make new work on the immunity of its soldiers in order to meet its primary mission is to ensure harmony between nations and not to support the violation of human rights." - Youri Latortue, Senator
The resolution was not forwarded as it was apparent to parliamentarians that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) which has the peacekeeping mandate would not accept such terms and President Michel Martelly was not willing to have the mission end.
Related 09.15.2011: MINUSTAH Chief Open Letter on Zero Tolerance Policy on Abuse
Related 09.15.2011: Senate Justice and Public Safety Aims to Resolve MINUSTAH Problem
Related 09.14.2011: Haitian Groups to Rally at United Nations Headquarters in New York
Related 09.02.2011: UN Peacekeepers Assaulting Young Man [VIDEO]
Related 09.01.2011: Criminal Complaint Filed Against UN Peacekeepers for Sexually Assaulting Young Man
Source: ABC News