UN Peacekeepers Gave Haitian Kids Snacks to be Part of Sex Ring

  • U.N. peacekeepers patrol the neighborhood of Cite Soleil together with Haitian national police officers and members of UNPOL (United Nations Police) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Mar. 3, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 April 2017

The disturbing investigation comes amid a catalog of sexual abuse allegations by peacekeepers across the world.

More than 100 U.N. Peacekeepers stationed in Haiti have been implicated in a child sex ring where children as young as 12 years old were exploited, but have never been held accountable for their abuses, according to an investigation by the Associated Press.

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The investigation described in disturbing detail how from 2004 to 2007, at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers on the Island were able to exploit nine children on a daily basis. While 144 peacekeepers were sent home following an internal U.N. report on the scandal, so far none have been sent to jail.

A girl identified as Victim Number One, told U.N. investigators that from the ages of 12 to 15 she had sex with nearly 50 peacekeepers, adding that “I did not even have breasts.” She recalled sleeping in U.N. trucks and having sex with a “Commandant” who gave her 75 cents in exchange.

Victim Number Eight said he had sex with more than 20 peacekeepers, where they would commonly remove their name tags before taking him away to trucks. Another boy told investigators that over the course of three years he had sex with more than 100 peacekeepers, averaging around four every day.

As the U.N. peacekeeper are made up of troops from around the world, prosecuting peacekeepers from crimes relies on the willingness of the country that sends the troops. So far, justice remains elusive for victims.

A previous AP investigation over the last 12 years found that there were close to 2,000 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers across the globe, with over 300 of these allegations involving children. Overall, however, only a handful have served jail time over the abuses.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission first arrived in Haiti in 2004 following a U.S.-supported coup against then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to end the mission, which is one of the longest running in history. While the U.N. says that the mission has improved stability, it has also left a trail of destruction.

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Haiti was free of cholera until 2010, when peacekeepers dumped infected sewage into a river. The U.N. refuses to accept legal responsibility for the outbreak of the disease. Some 9,300 people have died and more than 800,000 sickened due to the disease which causes uncontrollable diarrhea.

Haiti is known to be the poorest country in the Americas and one of the poorest in the western hemisphere, with high levels of extreme poverty and people living on an average of less than US$2 a day.

Tags

Haiti Caribbean Latin America

AP-Reuters

by teleSUR / mm-DB


Corrupution Inflated Brazil’s World Cup and Olympic Stadiums

  • An aerial view shows the Christ the Redeemer statue with the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul. 16, 2016.

    An aerial view shows the Christ the Redeemer statue with the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul. 16, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 April 2017
Even Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldo was used as part of the widespread bribery scheme.

Brazilian stadiums that hosted the country’s Olympics and the FIFA World Cup are the latest to become swallowed up in the ongoing Odebrecht corruption scandal.

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According to testimonies reported by local media Friday, officials and politicians worked in tandem with constructors to deliberately inflate the price of taxpayer funded stadiums, allowing them to receive huge kickbacks.

Faced with the prospect of lighter sentences, a number of heads from Brazil’s largest construction conglomerate Odebrecht gave live testimonies that have implicated a number of officials in the corruption scandal.

Local media reported that money from six of the 12 stadiums that were built or renovated for the 2014 World Cup ended up in the pockets of officials and company executives as drastically overinflated prices were skimmed off.

Major renovations to Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã, the country’s most iconic soccer stadium and host of the 2014 World Cup final, cost around 75 percent more than what was originally planned at a total of US$383 million, according to government figures.

The Mane Garrincha Stadium in the capital Brasilia was the most expensive stadium. Originally projected to cost $US238 million, it ended up being almost 88 percent more expensive at $US447 million.

The renovation contract for the Corinthians Arena in São Paulo — host of the opening World Cup game — was “informally” settled during a dinner at former Odebrecht boss Marcelo Odebrecht’s house. According to Odebrecht’s testimony, the dinner included the then governor and mayor of São Paulo while Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo was brought along “to add importance to the event.”

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“Without us there would have been no World Cup and no Olympic Games. There would have been nothing,” Odebrecht added. He is one of 77 executives that have so far testified as part of the country’s Operation Car Wash investigations.

Other executives that have testified have explained how the company needed to implement an accounting department, or “bribes department,” to keep track of corrupt dealings which have extended to the heart of Brazilian politics.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil ordered criminal investigations of over 100 politicians. The list includes eight ministers appointed by President Michel Temer— nearly one-third of the president’s cabinet.

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Israel Bans Dozens of Palestinians from Al-Aqsa Mosque

  • Archive photo of Israeli police forces in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque.

    Archive photo of Israeli police forces in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 April 2017
Local activists say that Jewish holiday season is often synonymous with escalated repression of Palestinians living in Jerusalem.

In the days leading up to the Jewish holiday of Passover, in overnight raids in occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces detained 30 Palestinians in what has been described as a routine security crackdown.

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While the majority were later released, many have been banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, some for at least 15 days and others for periods between three to six months.

The detained were verbally notified of their ban, but were later told to appear at Israeli police stations in order to be interrogated.

“For (Palestinian) Jerusalemites, the Jewish holiday season means an escalation in arbitrary detentions, house raids, and searches — measures that terrify families. The installation of additional security checkpoints, particularly at Al-Aqsa Mosque’s gates and in the Old City, only increase tensions in Jerusalem,” the chair of Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Nadi Qaws, told Ma’an News Agency.

According to Qaws, the people targeted by the raids and bans are the same Palestinians targeted by Israeli authorities each year.

The PPS, in condemning the attack, expressed particular concern for the Palestinians barred from entering the mosque as the month of Ramadan approaches, beginning at the end of May. Severe restrictions on Palestinians are often implemented by Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security reasons, they added.

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Speaking of the raids and bans, Israeli police foreign press spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a written statement Sunday morning that the raids were conducted to suss out “intentions by extremists, both Jews and Arabs, to disrupt the festival activities and cause public disorder.”

“Individuals have received a court order keeping them away from the Old City and the Temple Mount,” Rosenfeld said, using the Jewish term for the Al-Aqsa compound, Ma’an reported, “in order to prevent incidents over the festival.”

“Police operations will continue as part of the preparations for the festival of Passover beginning tomorrow and continuing for over a week,” he added.

Last year, the Passover holiday saw near-daily conflict as right-wing Israelis gathered at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to perform religious rituals.

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