IJDH Executive Director Brian Concannon and AIDS-Free World co-Director Paula Donovan discuss the allegations of sexual abuse by United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti and other countries around the world. Often, victims feel safer not reporting abuse because the perpetrators are rarely punished. Concannon and Donovan suggest some ways to end this culture of impunity.
Part of the interview transcript is below. Click HERE for the video and full transcript.
UN Peacekeepers in Haiti Force Girls to Trade Sex for Food, Medicine
The Real News Network
June 11, 2015
JESSICA DESVARIEUX, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.A report conducted by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services reveals that since 2004 UN peacekeepers in Haiti sexually abused more than 225 women and girls in exchange for food and medicine. But now that we know it happened and is potentially still happening, what is the UN going to do about it, and will these victims ever see justice?Now joining us to get into all o f this are our two guests, both joining us from Boston. We have Brian Concannon. He is the executive director and founder of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. And also joining us is Paula Donovan. She’s the co-founder and co-director of Code Blue, a campaign to end sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeeping personnel.Thank you both for joining us.
PAULA DONOVAN, CO-DIRECTOR, AIDS-FREE WORLD: Thank you.
BRIAN CONCANNON, EXEC. DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE AND DEMOCRACY IN HAITI: Thank you, Jessica. It’s good to be with you.
DESVARIEUX: Good to have you guys both on. So Paula, let’s start off with you. First, describe for our viewers what kind of details are emerging from this report? How did these transactional relations take place in Haiti?DONOVAN: It seems as though this is a draft report, and so the UN hasn’t quite finished tooling around with it. But it’s a report about a survey that was conducted among 231 Haitian women, or 229 Haitian women, two men. And they were asked whether they had–sorry, they had all had transactional sex with UN peacekeepers in exchange for food and other favors, or basically entitlements.
DESVARIEUX: So Brian, you’re an attorney with experience working for the UN. What accountability structures does the UN have in place for cases like this one? Does the UN reprimand these peacekeepers? And more importantly, what current structures exist for these sexually abused women and girls to find justice?
CONCANNON: Sure. In terms of punishing the perpetrators, sometimes they’re sent home. It’s rare, but sometimes they’re sent home. And even rarely in the most egregious cases they are slapped on the wrist. One example is a couple years ago, there was rape of an underaged girl and the perpetrators were sentenced to two years.In terms of mechanisms for the victims themselves, there really is nothing practical. On paper there’s a system where people can file complaints, but it is really designed to keep people from effectively filing complaints. I don’t know of a single case where a sexual abuse victim has been able to get any justice by following the UN’s procedures. And in many other cases, for example we’re working on a claim of victims of the cholera that the UN brought to Haiti. The UN just refuses to take those claims even though they’re filed consistently with their own system.
Click HERE for the video and full transcript.