In a letter to the United Nations, the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN) severely condemned the lack of adequate inquiry and prosecution of Sri Lankan soldiers accused of systematically raping Haitians women and girls as young as 7, whilst posted as UN peacekeepers in 2007.
Ezilo Dantò, HLLN president writes,
“In 2007, it was discovered and reported that girls as young as 13 were having sex with U.N. peacekeepers for as little as $1 in Haiti.”
“Moreover, Sri Lankan soldiers were accused of systematically raping Haitian women and girls, some as young as 7 years old.”
“If only a dozen UN peacekeepers were punished for sexual abuse and rape, then that means, for instance, most of the 114 Sri Lankan soldiers deported back to Sri Lanka from Haiti in 2007 for sexual abuse and rape in Haiti did not get punished,”
“Humanitarian aid workers and UN peacekeepers accused of sexually abusing and sexual trafficking children in Haiti should have their names and their country’s identities exposed so that this matter may be cleaned up once and for all.”
However, Brigadiear Nihal Hapuarachchi, spokesperson for the Sri Lankan Army is reported to have stated the matter is closed. A full inquiry was carried out and those soldiers who were found guilty were prosecuted he asserted.
The UN charged 114 Sri Lankan soldiers with sexual exploitation, abuse against children and rape - a war crime in the context of military conflicts - in 2008.
The UN's investigative body, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) stated that, working with the Sri Lankan government, all those responsible would be 'held accountable for their actions'.
Following the initial investigation by the UN's OIOS, the systematic and exploitative nature of the abuse was specifically highlighted.
“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,”
“In exchange for sex, the children received small amounts of money, food, and sometimes mobile phones,”
Such accounts bear a harrowing resemblence to the subsequent reports of sexual abuse, prostitution rings and rape of children by Sri Lankan forces during the final stages of the conflict in 2009 and within government-run IDP camps.
See 'Orgy of massacre, rape, torture and mutilation in final days' - an eye-witness account of the rape amid impunity by a Sri Lankan soldier.
Despite mounting evidence, the Sri Lankan government consistently refutes any such allegations.
Hapuarachchi confirms that Sri Lankan soldiers continue to serve in Haiti as peacekeepers and more are to be deployed next year.