UN team in Haiti to investigate sex abuse claims
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday January 25, 2012 - Members of the UN police in Haiti accused of sexually abusing children have been suspended as authorities investigate the allegations, the UN Mission Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has announced.
It promised “deliberate speed” in conducting the probe that was launched immediately after it received reports of the two cases of “grave allegations of sexual and exploitation abuses.”
An investigative team dispatched by the UN headquarters arrived here on Saturday.
The first case involves UN Police (UNPOL) officers based in the capital, Port-au-Prince, while the second case involves one or more members of the Formed Police Unit (FPU) in Gonaives, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York.
“The United Nations is outraged by these allegations and takes its responsibility to deal with them extremely seriously,” he stated.
He added the countries of origin of the individuals, against whom the allegations were made, have been informed.
The claims were made four months after Uruguayan peacekeepers were accused of raping a Haitian man sparking public protests. The officers were subsequently recalled.
MINUSTAH Chief Mariano Fernández Amunátegui reiterated his commitment to enforce the UN zero tolerance policy towards abuses perpetrated by the mission’s personnel.
“Each member of the United Nations, whether civilian, military or police, is obliged to observe an exemplary behavior. This is a commitment he/she makes upon joining the United Nations, anywhere in the world,” Amunátegui said.
“We will continue to take the strictest measures in order to ensure, when needed, that the perpetrators of such acts be sanctioned with the strongest severity.”
MINUSTAH said the rights of the alleged victims as well as of those accused of committing the crimes will be respected.
The UN support system for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse in Haiti is implemented by the peacekeeping force in coordination with other agencies.
The mission said this mechanism aims at guaranteeing swift medical and psycho-social assistance.