More than 100 United Nations peacekeepers recruited from the Sri Lankan military were identified as the operators of a child sex ring in Haiti, The Associated Press reported Friday, but none were ever prosecuted or jailed after repatriation.
The U.N. does not have legal jurisdiction over the peacekeepers to bring its own charges, and it has now implemented a stricter screening process for would-be peacekeepers from Sri Lanka intended to better weed out recruits connected to military units that have been accused of war crimes. Still, the U.N. continues to deploy Sri Lankan peacekeepers despite these grave — and still unresolved — allegations.
"This is a pattern repeated around the world," the AP report notes. "Strapped for troops, the U.N. draws recruits from many countries with poor human rights records for its peacekeeping program." "Sometimes the U.N. needs troops," former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the AP. "And they are so desperate that they accept troops that they will normally not accept if they had the choice."
Last month, a broader AP investigation into peacekeeper misconduct counted some 2,000 allegations of sexual assault by U.N. peacekeepers around the world since 2005. About 300 of those cases involved children, but jail time was rare across the board. In Haiti, the nine children who alleged abuse said the peacekeepers baited them with offers of food. One boy estimated he was forced to have sex with about 100 peacekeepers, averaging four daily for several years.