Saturday, 28 November 2015
Home Tamil Affairs International Affairs Editorial Opinion Feature Culture & Community Interviews
Latest Entries:
UN confirms sex charges against Sri Lankan troops in Haiti child abuse
Tamil Guardian 09 April 2008 Print ArticleE-mail ArticleFeedback On Article
The UN is to charge 114 Sri Lankan soldiers who were on peace-keeping missions with sexual exploitation and abuse against children, the Sunday Times reported last week.

The UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) says it is assisting in the pending legal proceedings initiated by the Sri Lankan Government, to ensure that all military members found guilty, according to Sri Lankan law, ‘are held accountable for their actions.’

The UN says charges should include rape - because it involves children under 18 years of age - which constitutes a ‘war crime’ in the context of military conflicts.

After an investigation into pending charges against Sri Lankan troops in Haiti, the OIOS has concluded that “acts of sexual exploitation and abuse (against children) were frequent and occurred usually at night, and at virtually every location where the contingent personnel were deployed,” the paper said.

“In exchange for sex, the children received small amounts of money, food, and sometimes mobile phones,” says the OIOS, the UN's investigative arm.

At the time of the initial allegation last November, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa asserted, when commenting on the Sri Lankan armed forces and their peace keeping missions, that, “I respect them profoundly and consider them as the most disciplined Forces in the world. They have not killed or raped anybody.”

The charges of sexual exploitation have been made against 114 members of the Sri Lankan armed forces who were serving as peacekeepers in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

They were part of a larger 950-member Sri Lankan contingent in the politically-troubled Caribbean nation.

Virtually all of the 114 troops were repatriated last November on ‘disciplinary grounds’.

The repatriation, described as one of the biggest single withdrawals of soldiers from a UN peacekeeping mission, was done in close cooperation with the Sri Lankan Government.

Three officers, a Lt. Colonel and two Majors who were Company Commanders, were withdrawn for failure to exercise command responsibilities in accordance with military norms and standards.

The UN may also seek the assistance of the Sri Lankan government to help provide compensation to victims of the crime.

The UN said the actions Colombo takes against them would also determine whether the UN will deploy Sri Lankan soldiers in future peacekeeping operations, the Sunday Times reported when the troops were ejected from Haiti.

A UN source told the paper that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations would monitor what action the government proposed to take against the soldiers.

"If they are found guilty, they should be punished for their crimes under the criminal justice system in the country," he said.

The UN would be very unhappy, he said, if only administrative and disciplinary actions were taken against the soldiers.

Sri Lankan military Spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said “Investigations are still going on. Our team is also looking into it. If they are found guilty they will be punished accordingly,”

In 2001, the year before a ceasefire ended the fighting, Amnesty International said it “has noted a marked rise in allegations of rape by [Sri Lankan] police, army and navy personnel.”

“Among the victims of rape by the security forces are many internally displaced women, women who admit being or having been members of the LTTE and female relatives of members or suspected male members of the LTTE,” Amnesty said.

“Reports of rape in custody concern children as young as 14,” Amnesty also said.

Amnesty said “to [our] knowledge, not a single member of the Sri Lankan security forces has been brought to trial in connection to incidents of rape in custody although one successful prosecution has been brought in a case where the victim of rape was also murdered.”

Also in 2001, Amnesty wrote to then Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, “urging her to take action to stop rape by security forces andbring perpetrators to justice” in response to reports of rape by security forces “in Mannar,Batticaloa,Negombo and Jaffna.”

“To date, no response has been received to the appeal,” Amnesty later said in a special report titled “Sri Lanka: Rape in Custody” which was published in January 2002, just as the Norwegian brokered Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) came into being.

Earlier, in March 2000, the then United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Radhika Coomaraswamy, expressed her “grave concern” over the lack of serious investigation into allegations of gang rape and murder of women and girls by the Sri Lankan security forces.

In 2000, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) protested that “Sri Lankan security forces are using systematic rape and murder of Tamil women to subjugate the Tamil population... Impunity continues to reign as rape is used as a weapon of war in Sri Lanka.”

In its 1999 annual report, Amnesty International, said rape of female detainees was used amongst a range of torture methods.

In a statement to the UN in 1998, the World Organisation against Torture observed: “Sri Lankan soldiers have raped both women and young girls on a massive scale, and often with impunity, since reporting often leads to reprisals against the victims and their families.”

“The consistent policy of rape and violence against Tamil women that we have documented for many years is a fundamental military tactic of the Sri Lankan forces,” International Educational Development, an NGO, also told the UN that year.

Human rights NGOs have frequently protested the impunity Sri Lankan soldiers enjoy regarding rapes and other abuses.

“Only one of the thousands of rapes which have been reported, has resulted in a conviction,” Pax Romana said.

“There also seems to be little point to expect justice on the basis of the constitution since the constitution itself provides the mechanisms and justifications for the commission of these war crimes and encourages impunity.”

Share on Facebook Print ArticlePrint Article E-mail ArticleE-mail Article Feedback On ArticleFeedback On Article
  Tamil Affairs
Tamil Guardian 28 November 2015
Families of the missing and disappeared protest in Jaffna
Families of Tamil the missing and those who were disappeared after being detained by the Sri Lanka military protested on Saturday in Jaffna demanding all details of their possible whereabouts to be released. ##### The protest is the latest in a series of such demonstrations on missing persons and the continued detention of Tamil political prisoners. Holding photographs of their missing children, [more]

Tamil Guardian 28 November 2015
Students at Eastern Uni mark Maaveerar Naal
Photographs: Theechudar Students at the Eastern University in Batticaloa marked Tamil National Remembrance Day on Friday, [more]

Tamil Guardian 28 November 2015
Maaveerar Naal commemorated in Trincomalee

Tamil Guardian 28 November 2015
UK pledges 6.6 million for military reform, displaced persons and reconciliation in Sri Lanka

Britain announced that it will provide £6.6 million over 3 years to Sri Lanka in order to support “military reform, displaced persons and reconciliation” on the island and deliver on committments set out in a UN Human Rights Council resolution.

The announcement was made as British Prime Minister David Cameron met with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta on Friday.

A press release from 10 Downing Street said the funding would “help to deliver the commitments set out in the historic UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution that was adopted in October including demilitarisation and land returns”.

“The UK is clear that credible investigations into alleged war crimes during Sri Lanka’s civil war are vital, [more]

Tamil Guardian 28 November 2015
Tamils in Denmark mark Maaveerar Naal
Tamils in Denmark marked Tamil National Remembrance Day (Maaveerar Naal) on Friday, paying tribute to those who gave their lives to the struggle against oppression. [more]

Tamil Guardian 28 November 2015
US Tamils mark Maaveerar Naal
All photos: Tamil Guardian

US Tamils gathered in New York City and San Francisco on Friday, to commemorate Maaveerar Naal. [more]

Tamil Guardian 28 November 2015
Tamil refugees in Indonesia mark Maaveerar Naal

Tamil refugees at a camp in Indonesia marked Maaveerar Naal by lighting candles before portraits of fallen fighters, on Friday. [more]

Tamil Guardian 28 November 2015
Maaveerar Naal remembered in Norway

A commemorative event was held in Oslo, Norway on Friday to mark Maaveerar Naal, the Tamil Remembrance Day. [more]

Print Editions


Contact Tamil Guardian