September 3, 2011 – Al Jazeera
The UN is investigating accusations that Uruguayan soldiers serving with the world body’s peacekeeping force in Haiti sexually assaulted an 18-year-old man after alleged footage of the incident was circulated in the country on mobile phones.
“We’re aware of this alleged incident. As soon as it was brought to our attention we immediately launched an internal investigation,” Eliana Nabaa, spokeswoman for the UN’s Haiti peacekeeping mission, MINUSTAH, said on Friday.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse and we take it extremely seriously. If the allegations are proved, the soldiers must be brought to justice,” she said.
A Haitian magistrate told the AFP news agency on Friday that he had turned the case over to prosecutors after viewing the evidence and after the alleged victim and his parents gave depositions in a courthouse in Port Salut, the southern seaside town where the alleged sex attack is said to have occurred.
He said he was also investigating allegations of sexual relations between Uruguayan peacekeepers and young Haitian females who had become pregnant.
Uruguay’s defense ministry earlier this week ordered an “urgent investigation” into allegations that its troops had committed “aberrant acts” against a Haitian.
Uruguay contributes 1,110 soldiers and police officers to the UN’s more than 12,000-strong peacekeeping force in Haiti, according to UN figures released in July.