In Wake of Scandals and Cholera, Anger Rises Against Minustah
|Thursday, 14 June 2012 09:47|
A piece yesterday on the Christian Science Monitor's website, written by investigative journalist Kathie Klarreich, discusses the increasing unpopularity of UN troops in Haiti in the wake of multiple sexual abuse incidents and the introduction of cholera in late 2010. As the article explains, the negative feelings that these scandals have stirred up among Haitians are compounded by the general lack of accountability of foreign soldiers and police personnel that are part of the UN Stabilization Mission for Haiti, or MINUSTAH.
“no information about what happened to those Sri Lankan peacekeepers was ever made public by either the UN or Sri Lanka. Member states are not required to divulge the outcome of their internal inquiries.”
In a report that focuses on the case of the Port Salut rape case, Haiti’s National Human Rights Defense Network, lists a number of other cases of human rights abuses allegedly committed by MINUSTAH agents since 2005 that – as far as we know – haven’t been properly investigated or prosecuted.
“No one contacted at the UN would comment on the cholera lawsuit, saying only that its legal counsel was reviewing the claim and that an independent panel concluded it was not possible to determine the cause of the outbreak. This contradicts claims by five scientific studies, more than a dozen scientists, and a statement by former President Bill Clinton indicting the Nepalese as the source of the virus.”
Interestingly, Klarreich reports that UN spokesperson Silvie Van den Wildenberg has recognized that the damage the abuse cases and cholera “have to done to MINUSTAH is irreparable”:
“What happened is ying and yang,” says Van den Wildenberg. “It is the opposite of why we are here, to defend the highest values and ideals and this is killing our credibility worldwide.... We will always wear the scar.” She says MINUSTAH and the UN are very sorry for what happened but their apologies are “not being heard anymore.”
Yet, despite these expressions of regret, MINUSTAH and the UN have in reality failed to offer the Haitian people, and particularly the victims of abuses and cholera, a formal apology. Were the UN to officially recognize their responsibility for these abuses and offer apologies, it would be a useful first step toward the accountability of MINUSTAH in Haiti.