T Nation

U.N. Pedophelia Scandal

This scandal is separate and distinct from oil-for-food, so I thought I would start a separate thread to see if anyone wanted to discuss the allegations or the fact that, similar to Oil-for-Food, the U.N. is apparently obstructing its own investigation. I actually have more of a problem, at this point, with the cover up – but I assume there’s a reason for the cover up.

The problems are part-and-parcel to an unaccountable bureaucracy possessing political power and “legitimizing” power.

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U.N. Sexual Abuse Alleged in Congo
Peacekeepers Accused in Draft Report

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 16, 2004; Page A26

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 15 – U.N. peacekeepers threatened U.N. investigators investigating allegations of sexual misconduct in Congo and sought to bribe witnesses to change incriminating testimony, a confidential U.N. draft report says.

The 34-page report, which was obtained by The Washington Post, accuses U.N. peacekeepers from Morocco, Pakistan and Nepal of seeking to obstruct U.N. efforts to investigate a sexual abuse scandal that has damaged the United Nations’ standing in Congo.

The report documents 68 cases of alleged rape, prostitution and pedophilia by U.N. peacekeepers from Pakistan, Uruguay, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Nepal. U.N. officials say they have uncovered more than 150 allegations of sexual misconduct throughout the country as part of a widening investigation into sexual abuse by U.N. personnel that has plagued the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping mission, U.N. officials said.

“Sexual exploitation and abuse, particularly prostitution of minors, is widespread and long-standing,” says a draft of the internal July report, which has not previously been made public. “Moreover, all of the major contingents appear to be implicated.”

The latest disclosure comes as U.N. officials confirmed that a senior U.N. official in Congo was suspended from his job with pay in recent weeks pending an investigation into allegations of “inappropriate conduct.” The senior official, a New Zealand national, was accused of being seen drinking with Congolese prostitutes at a bar when the U.N. leadership was trying to address a major sexual abuse scandal, officials said. William Lacy Swing, a former U.S. ambassador who heads the U.N. mission in Congo, declined to discuss the matter except to say the official is no longer in the country.

Swing also declined to discuss specific allegations against national peacekeepers. He conceded, however, that the mission’s credibility has been badly damaged in recent months by allegations of sexual misconduct against U.N. personnel in Congo.

“We view this as something very serious that can impede our ability to accomplish our mandate,” he said. “There is no question of the dedication of this mission to getting rid of this.”

The report alleges that a Moroccan contingent stationed in Bunia threatened a U.N. informant investigating child prostitution. The Moroccan peacekeepers also “spread the word” that a U.N. child-protection advocate looking into allegations of child prostitution and rape by U.N. peacekeepers “had better be careful when she went out at night,” the report said.

The report cites cases in which peacekeepers from Morocco, Pakistan and possibly Tunisia “were reported to have paid, or attempted to pay witnesses to change their testimony” regarding alleged sexual abuse. It also charges that Moroccan military officials refused “to provide the names of Moroccan soldiers present at the location” of an alleged rape.

Morocco’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mohamed Bennouna, was unavailable for comment last night. A spokesman for Pakistan’s mission to the United Nations, Mansoor Suhail, said it is unfair to “defame” the troops before they have faced “a proper investigation and inquiry.”

He also noted that Western personnel in Congo and other U.N. missions around the world have also been the target of sexual abuse charges.

“In case the allegations are established, we would like to discipline them,” he added. “The Pakistani army’s discipline is the strictest.”

The U.N. mission in Congo was established five years ago to end the country’s war, oversee the withdrawal of seven foreign armies and help prepare for national elections. It employs more than 1,000 civilians and nearly 11,000 peacekeepers from 50 nations.

The crisis has challenged the organization’s ability to effectively manage and impose discipline in a large peacekeeping operation. It has also hurt the organization’s reputation as it confronts charges of corruption in its management of Iraq’s prewar oil-for-food program.

The Washington Post first reported last month on a separate U.N. report that found sexual exploitation by U.N. personnel in Congo “appears to be significant, wide spread and ongoing.”

The latest report says that allegations of sexual misconduct were initially leveled in summer 2003 against U.N. personnel based in Kindu and Kisingani. But the U.N. report says the abuse worsened in Bunia, where more than half of the United Nations’ troops are stationed.

While most cases of sexual misconduct involved U.N. peacekeepers soliciting prostitutes, the report cites three cases of alleged rape by Nepalese peacekeepers, including the alleged abduction and rape of a 10-year-old girl in a U.N. armored personnel carrier in April.

Editorial from today’s Wall Street Journal

Sex for Food
December 29, 2004; Page A8

Two years after the charges first surfaced, Kofi Annan has finally admitted that U.N. peacekeeping troops sexually abused war refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I am really shocked by these accusations,” the United Nations Secretary-General told reporters last week.

He shouldn’t be. Allegations of sex crimes committed by U.N. staff and troops date back at least a decade and span operations on three continents, in places like Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cambodia. But rather than showing the kind of “zero tolerance” toward sexual crimes that Mr. Annan now promises, the U.N. has treated such instances with cavalier nonchalance.

In Congo, some 150 cases are under investigation. The charges range from rape, in which some victims were children, to sexual exploitation. In some cases, women and young girls have been coaxed into sex in exchange for essential food items. A French U.N. staffer was arrested for raping underage girls and taking digital pictures of them. He has been sent back home where he will stand trial.

U.N. officials reportedly are worried that if these pictures and other rape videos allegedly shot by U.N. troops find their way into the media, it could become the U.N.'s “Abu Ghraib.” The difference, of course, is that the abuses in Iraq came quickly to light through the chain of command and were immediately prosecuted by the U.S. military. In contrast, the U.N. is investigating the cases in Congo only after much delay and even now is unwilling to “name and shame” the countries whose soldiers committed these crimes.

It’s time to clean house at the UN.

How much worse is it gonna get? I have this morbid idea that any day now, Kofi’s going to get in the bathtub, fill it all up with some nice, warm water, and slit his wrists.

Thoroughly agree - time to clean house at the UN. But it ain’t going to happen. The US is correct in my opinion that it should bypass the UN and deliver the aid directly to those needing it - in Asia or wherever.

The UN is a corrupt and useless entity now. An alternative must be found.