Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, email@example.com, +1-541-263-0029 (English, French, Creole)
Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, (in Haiti), firstname.lastname@example.org, +509-3701-9878 (French, Creole, English)
Maria-Elena Kolovos, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (in Haiti), email@example.com, +509-4688-9968 (English)
Release of MINUSTAH Peacekeepers Filmed Raping Haitian Youth is Latest Outrageous Incident of Peacekeeper Impunity
Monday, January 9, 2012, Boston and Port-au-Prince- Human rights lawyers representing the victims of the United Nations cholera epidemic in Haiti expressed their outrage that the UN Peacekeepers caught on tape raping a Haitian teenager last summer were freed. They called on MINUSTAH, the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, to waive the immunity that enables regular acts of rape, torture and even murder by MINUSTAH troops, and to allow an independent mechanism to evaluate claims by cholera victims and others hurt by MINUSTAH malfeasance.
“It is hard to think of a stronger rape case” said Mario Joseph, Av, the Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Haiti. “The perpetrators documented it on their cellphone. Yet the UN still denied it happened at first. Under public pressure MINUSTAH promised justice, but did not deliver it.”
“This case follows a familiar pattern established over seven years,” said Brian Concannon Jr., Director of the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), and former UN Volunteer in Haiti. “MINUSTAH denies all malfeasance, then delays. Its’ explanations would be laughed out of court, except that the UN makes sure that it never gets brought into court. In the meantime Haitians are regularly raped and exploited and occasionally tortured and murdered, and tens of thousands contract cholera every month.”
“The UN should demonstrate its commitment to its own principles of justice and human rights by conducting serious, prompt investigations, waiving its immunity where possible and allowing civil claims against it to be decided by an impartial tribunal,” said Joseph.
MINUSTAH has operated in Haiti since June 2004, and has an annual budget of $800 million. The mission contains 10% of all UN Peacekeepers, even though Haiti has not had an internationally-recognized war in decades. The UN cholera epidemic is the world’s worst, and kills about 200 Haitians each month. For more information about MINUSTAH impunity and the cholera case, see www.IJDH.org.