Military takes action on soldiers accused in Haiti

By on October 8, 2019

“Survival sex”Dozens of Haitian women also say they were raped, and dozens more had what is euphemistically called “survival sex” in a country where most people live on less than $2.50 a day, the AP found.Haitian lawyer Mario Joseph has been trying to get compensation for victims of a deadly cholera strain linked to Nepalese peacekeepers that killed an estimated 10 000 people. Now, he is also trying to get child support for about a dozen Haitian women left pregnant by peacekeepers.“Imagine if the UN was going to the United States and raping children and bringing cholera,” Joseph said in Port-au-Prince. “Human rights aren’t just for rich white people.”US Sen. Bob Corker agrees. The Tennessee Republican, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been calling for reforms in the United Nations. He may well get them under President Donald Trump, whose administration has proposed a 31 percent reduction to the US foreign aid and diplomacy budget. Corker and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley want a review of all missions.Corker recalled his disgust at hearing of the UN sexual abuse cases uncovered last year in Central African Republic.“If I heard that a UN peacekeeping mission was coming near my home in Chattanooga,” he told AP, “I’d be on the first plane out of here to go back and protect my family.”The Habitation Leclerc resort was once well known throughout Port-au-Prince as a lush refuge amid the capital’s grimy alleyways. During its heyday in the 1980s, celebrities like Mick Jagger and Jackie Onassis would perch by the pool or stroll past the property’s Voodoo temple.By 2004, the resort was a decrepit clutch of buildings, and several children, either orphaned or abandoned by their parents, were living in its ruins.Suspicious interactionsIt was there that V01 met other victims, two girls referred to in the UN report as “V02” and “V03” and a young boy, “V08.” The boy initially supported them by occasionally bringing food from his aunt, but they were often hungry.The peacekeepers had arrived that year as part of a new mission to help stabilize Haiti in the wake of President Jean-Bertrande Aristide’s ouster. The Sri Lankans, numbering about 900 troops, landed in a historically unstable country in the grip of scattered violence and kidnappings – and a broken government ill-suited to confront the chaos.Some of the peacekeepers in the Sri Lankan contingent were based near the former resort.In August 2007, the UN received complaints of “suspicious interactions” between Sri Lankan soldiers and Haitian children. UN investigators then interviewed nine victims, as well as witnesses, while the sex ring was still active.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 on his middle finger. She said he often showed her a picture of his wife. The peacekeepers also taught her some Sinhalese so she could understand and express sexual innuendo; the children even talked to one another in Sinhalese when UN investigators were interviewing them.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.During her interview with investigators, another young victim, V07, received a phone call from a Sri Lankan peacekeeper. She explained that the soldiers would pass along her number to incoming contingent members, who would then call her for sex.The boy, V08, said he had sex with more than 20 Sri Lankans. Most would remove their name tags before taking him to UN military trucks, where he gave them oral sex or was sodomized by them.Another boy, V09, was 15 when his encounters began. Over the course of three years, he said he had sex with more than 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers, averaging about four a day, investigators said.“Some days, I imagine strangling my daughter to death”Under Haitian law, having sex with someone under 18 is 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, especially since each claimed multiple sexual partners at various locations where the Sri Lankan contingents were deployed throughout Haiti over several years,” the report said.Investigators showed the children more than 1,000 photographs that included pictures of Sri Lankan troops and locations of where the children had sex with the soldiers.“The evidence shows that from late 2004 to mid-October 2007, at least 134 military members of the current and previous Sri Lankan contingents sexually exploited and abused at least nine Haitian children,” the report said.After the report was filed, 114 Sri Lanka peacekeepers were sent home, putting an end to the sex ring.But the sexual exploitation visited upon Haiti’s people didn’t stop there.Janila Jean said she was a 16-year-old virgin when a Brazilian peacekeeper lured her to a UN compound three years ago with a smear of peanut butter on bread, raped her at gunpoint and left her pregnant. She finds herself constantly in tears.“Some days, I imagine strangling my daughter to death,” she said in an interview under the shadow of banana palms near the former Jacmel base.With her were three other women who said they also were raped by peacekeepers. One of them sat on her heels, scraping coconut from its shell and into a large cauldron of water and corn, the barest of meals for the women and their small children.Adm. Ademir Sobrinho of Brazil’s armed forces said at a conference in London that his force had no such cases of rape, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation.But like many, Jean didn’t report the rape. Nearly a dozen women interviewed by the AP said they were too scared to report the crimes out of fear they would be blamed – or worse, would meet their victimizers again.The AP found that some 150 allegations of abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers and other personnel were reported in Haiti alone between 2004 and 2016, out of the worldwide total of nearly 2 000. Aside from the Sri Lankan sex ring in Haiti, some perpetrators were jailed for other cases.Alleged abusers came from Bangladesh, Brazil, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uruguay and Sri Lanka, according to UN data and interviews. More countries may have been involved, but the United Nations only started disclosing alleged perpetrators’ nationalities after 2015.The litany of abuses is longIn July 2011, four Uruguayan peacekeepers and their commanding officer allegedly gang-raped a Haitian teenager. The men also filmed the alleged attack on their phones, which went viral on the internet. The men never faced trial in Haiti; four of the five were convicted in Uruguay of “private violence,” a lesser charge. Uruguayan officials said at the time that it was a prank gone wrong and that no rape occurred.The following year, three Pakistanis attached to the UN’s police units in Haiti were allegedly involved in the rape of a mentally disabled 13-year-old in the northern city of Gonaives.UN investigators went to Haiti to investigate, but the Pakistanis abducted the boy to keep him from detailing the abuse that had gone on for more than a year, according to one of the investigators in the case, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the UN.Finally, the men were tried in a Pakistani military tribunal in Haiti, and eventually sent back to Pakistan. In theory, the tribunal could have allowed for better access to witnesses, but it’s unclear whether any were called. The Pakistani authorities also refused to allow the UN to observe the proceedings. In the end, one man was sent to prison for a year, according to Ariane Quentier, a spokeswoman for the Haiti mission.Pakistan’s military has refused several requests for comment on the case.UN data during the 12-year period reviewed by AP is incomplete and varies in levels of detail, particularly for cases before 2010. Hundreds of other cases were closed with little to no explanation. In its review, the AP analyzed data from annual reports as well as information from the Office of Internal Oversight Services.“People are quite happy and comfortable with the peacekeepers”In the wake of the child sex ring investigation, a team of Sri Lankans spent two weeks in Haiti in October 2007. They interviewed only 25 soldiers out of more than 900 in the country and concluded that just two Sri Lankan corporals and one private had sex with two “young” victims. Three soldiers denied sexual encounters but were suspected of lying, according to the UN investigation report.For six months, the Sri Lankan army and the government declined to respond to AP’s questions about the 2007 case. Instead, officials first dodged repeated queries, then gave vague assurances that the scandal represented an isolated incident.Last month, the Sri Lankan government acknowledged its military had conducted inquiries into just 18 soldiers it said were implicated, and that “the UN Secretariat has acknowledged in writing, action taken by the government, and informed that the Secretariat, as of 29 September 2014, considers the matter closed.”Some of the peacekeepers involved in the ring were still in the Sri Lankan military as of last year, Sri Lankan military officials say. The United Nations, meanwhile, continued to send Sri Lankan peacekeepers to Haiti and elsewhere despite corroborating the child sex ring.Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi defended the troops, saying, “People are quite happy and comfortable with the peacekeepers.”Above a rusty bench at an abandoned bus stop in the village of Leogane hangs a sign that reads, “Constructed by the 16th Sri Lanka Peacekeeping Battalion.” It’s one of the few physical reminders of the battalion’s mission – along with children fathered by UN personnel.Marie-Ange Haitis says she met a Sri Lankan commander in December 2006 and he soon began making night-time visits to her house in Leogane.“By January, we had had sex,” she said. “It wasn’t rape, but it wasn’t exactly consensual, either. I felt like I didn’t have a choice.”She said when she first realized that she was pregnant, the Haitian translator assigned to the Sri Lankans told her to have an abortion. Then, she said, UN officials accused her of lying. As she spoke, her daughter Samantha sat on her lap wearing an oversized pair of sunglasses with a missing lens.When she was interviewed in August, Haitis said she had been waiting nearly a decade for the UN to consider her paternity claim to help support her daughter.Finally, early this year, Sri Lankan and UN officials told AP that a onetime payment of $45 243 had been made for Haitis’ daughter. The United Nations said Sri Lanka accepted the paternity claim without proof of DNA and the commander was dismissed from service.But such payments are rare.UN officials said they were unable to find any members of the mission in Haiti who might have dealt with the victims in the sex-ring case and did not know what happened to the children. An Italian non-governmental organization, AVSI, said it helped the children by trying to find homes for them, providing them with counseling and helping reintegrate them into schools, but it also lost track of the children shortly after the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake.Atul Khare, the UN’s head of field support which oversees the conduct and discipline of peacekeepers, acknowledged the scope of the problem and said the global agency must do more to help victims, including gathering accurate information and following up with troop-contributing countries.An AP review of reports into conduct on UN field missions showed haphazard record-keeping. In a 2008 report, for example, 19 allegations were reported in Haiti, but the UN recorded only two incidents worldwide involving minors – a seeming contradiction to the UN’s own investigation report in late 2007 that detailed the child sex ring with at least nine child victims.Some Haitians 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.UN personnel say they have contributed to the stability in the Caribbean nation over the years, saved lives during the 2010 earthquake’s aftermath and prevented violence during periods of unrest. The mission, which currently has nearly 5 000 personnel and is expected to scale down by October, has also been credited with training police, providing security during elections and support to the judiciary.“I would not say we have achieved everything we set out to do, but we are engaged in a process of continuous improvement that any harmful effect on the local populations could be minimized, if not completely eradicated,” Khare said.Many in Haiti are not convinced.“I’d like to see my attacker face to face and tell him how he has destroyed my life,” said 21-year-old Melida Joseph, who said she was raped by one peacekeeper and narrowly escaped being gang-raped in Cite-Soleil, a seaside slum. Like others, she never reported the crime.“They’ll look at this as one big joke,” she said. “As far as the UN goes, they came here to protect us, but all they’ve brought is destruction.” (Colombo Gazette) The Army came under fire last week over its alleged failure to deal with the soldiers accused of rape in Haiti.However the military insisted that all those accused and found guilty have been dealt with, including the contingent commander. The Army spokesman said that the remaining soldiers were disciplined as the allegations against were not serious and included withholding evidence.In Haiti, at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers exploited nine children in a sex ring from 2004 to 2007, according to an internal UN report obtained by the Associated Press. In the wake of the report, 114 peacekeepers were sent home. None was ever imprisoned.In March, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced new measures to tackle sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers and other personnel. But the proclamation had a depressingly familiar ring: More than a decade ago, the United Nations commissioned a report that promised to do much the same thing, yet most of the reforms never materialized.For a full two years after those promises were made, the children in Haiti were passed around from soldier to soldier. And in the years since, peacekeepers have been accused of sexual abuse the world over.In one particularly grim case in Haiti, a teenage boy said he was gang-raped in 2011 by Uruguayan peacekeepers who filmed the alleged assault on a cellphone. “A high level delegation had been sent by the Army to Haiti and an investigation was conducted and those found guilty were dealt with,” Seneviratne said.He said that the contingent commander was sent on compulsory retirement following the investigations and eight others were dismissed. Army spokesman, Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne however said that while 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers had been accused in the report, investigations conducted at the time the allegations first surfaced, found that only 29 soldiers were involved. The Associated Press, in a detailed report revealed several incidents of rape involving Sri Lankan peacekeepers in Haiti. “Let us declare in one voice: We will not tolerate anyone committing or condoning sexual exploitation and abuse. We will not let anyone cover up these crimes with the UN flag,” Guterres said. read more

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Couple seeking cash for holiday sickness binged on 109 drinks in nine

By on September 25, 2019

first_img“The night after the onset of the illness, cocktails and spirits were consumed. Two days after the onset of the illness, a very significant quantity of beers were consumed during the afternoon and spirits in the evening.” A total of 109 drinks were consumed over a nine-day period, Jet2holidays said. The Government and the police are increasingly concerned about a surge in the number of false holiday sickness claims. Travel association Abta says there has been a four-fold increase made by British tourists since 2013, in part driven by ambulance-chasing claims companies.Jet2holidays CEO Steve Heapy is now calling on the Government to crack down on “food bug fraudsters”. Two British tourists who claimed to have been “bed-ridden” by an “acute illness” in an attempt to claim compensation from a holiday company actually spent the week consuming large quantities of alcohol. The behaviour of the unnamed couple from Liverpool in Gran Canaria in 2015 was exposed by investigators instructed by Jet2holidays and the all-inclusive hotel Gloria Palace after the pair attempted to sue for damages.Both Jet2holidays and the four-star hotel said they heard no complaint from the pair during the stay or in the immediate wake of the holiday, but more than a year later received a letter from a claims management law firm demanding compensation for food poisoning, stating that an illness begun on the second day of a 12-day holiday had left the couple suffering “stomach cramps and severe diarrhoea” and “bed-ridden during an acute period of illness…[that] spoiled the rest of the holiday”. Majorca has also been cited as a hotbed of false claimsCredit:bbsferrari – Fotolia/Sergey Dzyuba "The night of the alleged onset of the illness, at least six shots of spirits and mixers were consumed." We risk the actions of the dishonest few spoiling the plans of many British holidaymakersJet2holidays CEO Steve Heapy But Jet2holidays found evidence of a different version of events.“In the course of investigating the claim with the hotelier, it has come to light that their records show that the customers continued to enjoy a range of alcoholic drinks throughout the time of their illness,” said the operator.“The night of the alleged onset of the illness, at least six shots of spirits and mixers were consumed.center_img Majorca has also been cited as a hotbed of false claims “We want our customers to have a great holiday and to continue to enjoy the benefits of all-inclusive. But the danger is that these fake holiday poisoning claims put the all-inclusive holiday at risk,” he said.“The sharp rise in the number of sickness claims is costing hoteliers and travel companies dearly, and it’s frustrating when so many are made a year or more after the holiday has ended. We risk the actions of the dishonest few spoiling the plans of many British holidaymakers.“My message is simple. No one cares more about you on holiday than us. If you have a problem on holiday, we are there for you and we take genuine claims very seriously. “The night of the alleged onset of the illness, at least six shots of spirits and mixers were consumed.” “But the food bug fraudsters are fooling customers into thinking they can make a claim even when they weren’t ill without any consequences, which is not true. These are the same guys that made so much money out of whiplash cases. I’m calling on the Government to crack down on the food bug fraudsters.”Earlier this month, detectives at the City of London police confirmed they were assessing material handed to them regarding false sickness claims to see whether criminal prosecutions could be sought.Such claims have the potential to raise insurance premiums and are costing holiday resorts and hotels millions of pounds each year. In Spain alone it is estimated to cost resorts more than £50 million annually, while tour operators in Mallorca have estimated that claims involving stomach illnesses increased by 700 per cent in the past year. Holiday prices could be hiked to combat the extra cost, while some tour operators have even suggested they might stop offering all-inclusive packages to Britons.The typical payout for a sickness claim is somewhere between £1,000 and £2,000, which is above the threshold for it to be considered a small claim (that threshold is £1,000).last_img read more

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