More than 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers had sex with children in Haiti, internal UN report reveals
The Haitian girl known Victim No 1 was 12 when she first had sex with a Sri Lankan peacekeeper. She says she didn’t even have breasts yet.
The boy, known as Victim No 9, was 15 when his ordeal began. Over the course of three years, he said he had sex with more than 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers, averaging about four a day.
From 2004 to 2007, nine Haitian children were exploited by a child sex ring involving at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers, according to an internal UN report obtained by The Associated Press.
Often the children were given cookies or a few dollars in exchange for sex. Although 114 of the peacekeepers were sent home, none was ever jailed for the abuse.
Justice for victims is rare. An Associated Press investigation of UN missions during the past 12 years found an estimated 2,000 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and UN personnel around the world — signalling the crisis is much larger than previously known. More than 300 of the allegations involved children, but only a fraction of the alleged perpetrators were jailed.
The Haitian children had made a home for themselves at Habitation Leclerc, a resort was once well-known in the 1980s throughout Port-au-Prince as a lush refuge amid the capital’s grimy alleyways.
By 2004, the years the peacekeepers arrived, the resort was a decrepit clutch of buildings and several children, either orphaned or abandoned by their parents, were living in its ruins.
It was there that Victim No 1, or V01, met other children in the same straits: two young girls referred to in the UN report as “V02” and “V03,” and a young boy, “V08.”
In August 2007, the UN received complaints of “suspicious interactions” between Sri Lankan soldiers and the Haitian children.
V02, who was 16 when the UN team interviewed her, told them she had sex with a Sri Lankan commander at least three times, describing him as overweight with a moustache and a gold ring.
V03 identified 11 Sri Lankan troops through photographs, one of whom she said was a corporal with a “distinctive” bullet scar between his armpit and waist. V04, who was 14, said she had sex with the soldiers every day in exchange for money, cookies or juice.
The boy, V08, said he had sex with more than 20 Sri Lankans. Most would remove their name tags before taking him to trucks, where he gave them oral sex or was sodomised by them.
Under Haitian law, having sex with someone under 18 is considered statutory rape. UN codes of conduct also prohibit exploitation.
“The sexual acts described by the nine victims are simply too many to be presented exhaustively in this report,” the report said.
At the close of the UN investigation, 114 Sri Lankan peacekeepers were sent home.
Some Haitians, including lawyer Mario Joseph, wonder whether the UN has done more harm than good in a country that has endured tragedy after tragedy since it became the first black republic in 1804.
“Imagine if the UN was going to the United States and raping children,” Joseph said in Port-au-Prince. “Human rights aren’t just for rich white people.”