Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

UN aware of human rights violations by Sri Lanka’s peacekeeping officers

Responding to a documentary, by Germany’s DW, detailing human rights abuses committed by UN peacekeeping officers from Bangaldesh and Sri Lanka, United Nations Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, noted that he was aware of the abuses and reaffired the UN's commitment to proper vetting.

The human rights crimes committed include allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings.

“We’ve seen the documentary and as you may know our colleagues in the peacekeeping have been interacting and gave a statement to the producers. But we want to restate very clearly that the Secretariat is committed to deploying personnel that meet the highest standard of efficiency and integrity,” he said. “Including for and respect for commitment to human rights.”

Dujarric also added three parts to the screening of the officers, including self-certification, certification by the sending country, and a procedure by the High Commissioner’s Office for Human Rights. “Over the years there have been cases where we were informed of allegations of past human rights violations committed by uniform personnel from a few countries who deploy to peacekeeping missions. When such cases differ the peacekeeping mission takes appropriate actions. It can result in uniform personnel not being deployed or repatriated if allegations are substantial.”

Andrew Gilmour, a former UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights told DW that the UN does not have an option. "it's not as if the UN then can say, OK, we'll take this group because we think this country respects human rights. And I'm sorry guys, we're not going to take you." He said that in a situation "where literally thousands of people could be killed in the absence of UN peacekeepers, which — when you have to balance things — perhaps sending two or three bad apples is a less-bad option than thousands of people getting killed."

Sri Lanka’s most recent contingent for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) left the country in April, despite the many allegations of human rights violations perpetrated by officers from Sri Lanka tri-forces. 

The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) has called for the suspension of all Sri Lankan peacekeepers following the release of the UN human rights commissioners report. The report highlighted that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, which is responsible for the vetting of Sri Lankan troops, has been "politicised and its independence undermined by the appointment of a former Government minister as its chairperson" the ITJP stated in a press release.

The deployment of Sri Lankan forces comes despite grievous human rights abuses during peacekeeping missions. In 2007, over 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers were implicated in a child sex ring in Haiti. Sri Lankan troops were accused of exchanging food and money for sex with girls and boys as young as 12. While most of the accused were repatriated, none have been criminally prosecuted.

Read more here: UN peacekeepers in Haiti ‘fathered hundreds of babies’ with young girls with violence and coercion

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.