Apr 14, New York: The United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Thursday urged all countries including Sri Lanka that provide troops for U.N. peacekeeping missions to hold soldiers accountable for sexual abuse and exploitation of women and children in Haiti.
The U.S. Envoy's appeal came after an Associated Press investigation into a child sex ring in Haiti found that UN peacekeepers including over 100 Sri Lankan troops allegedly sexually exploited vulnerable women and children in Haiti.
Speaking after the Security Council voted unanimously to end the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti in mid-October, Haley warned that "countries that refuse to hold their soldiers accountable must recognize that this either stops or their troops will go home and their financial compensation will end," according to an AP report.
Among the cases investigated in Haiti, at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers exploited nine children in a sex ring from 2004 to 2007, according to an internal U.N. report obtained by the AP.
"What do we say to these kids? Did these peacekeepers keep them safe?" Haley asked, citing the AP's investigation detailing how at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers sexually abused and exploited nine Haitian children between 2004 and 2007.
Sri Lanka never jailed any soldiers implicated in the abuse yet the country was allowed to send troops to other U.N. missions, according to AP.
Nine children in the Haiti sex ring - some as young as 12 - told U.N. investigators how Sri Lankan peacekeepers offered them snacks or money for sex. One boy said he slept with as many as 100 soldiers, averaging about four per day.
The details of the sex ring were part of a larger AP investigation of U.N. missions during the past 12 years that found an estimated 2,000 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and U.N. personnel around the world.
The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) will end in October and the 2,370 military personnel will gradually leave over the next six months as the impoverished Caribbean nation is stabilizing after successful elections.
"We will, however, continue to push for accountability of those troops in Haiti as well as all troop contributing countries involved in peacekeeping efforts," she said.
Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended that peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse and exploitation be court martialed in the countries where the alleged incidents take place and said the U.N. would withhold payments to peacekeepers facing credible allegations.