Pakistani Muslim Troops Convicted of Raping Haitian Children

Pakistani troops playing with Haitian children

Two Pakistani United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti have been sentenced to a paltry year in prison with hard labor after a rare trial found them guilty of sexual abuse and exploitation of children, a U.N. spokeswoman said earlier today. The two were convicted of raping a 14-year-old boy in the northern city of Gonaives on Jan 20.

Spokeswoman Sylvie Van Den Wildenberg said the United Nations was informed last week that the two Pakistani police officers were convicted by a Pakistani military court in the Haitian port city of Gonaives and were discharged. No U.N. personnel or Haitian officials were present for the trial, she said.

It was the first time that troops from the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known by its French acronymn of Minustah, have been tried and sentenced within the country. U.N.

U.N. authorities also were told that Pakistan intends to compensate the victims but has not determined the amount, Van Den Wildenberg said.

She added that Pakistan withdrew its 150 members of the U.N. peacekeeping mission on Friday. It was not clear if Pakistan planned to replace the unit.

The case involving the members of a police unit in Gonaives began in January, along with a separate case concerning U.N. police officers in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The troops were removed from duty pending the outcome of the investigations. U.N. officials didn’t release the nationality of these troops.

The trial came just months after six Uruguayan troops with the U.N. peacekeeping force in Haiti were caught on tape raping a Haitian boy. The case was referred to the Uruguayan judicial system.

The cases have done little to improve relations between the U.N. and Haitians who view the mission as an occupying force.

Tensions between the world body and Haiti were exacerbated after a peacekeeping unit from Nepal was blamed for introducing cholera to the Caribbean nation in the months following the January 2010 earthquake. The outbreak has killed more than 7,000 people and sickened more than 526,000 others, Haitian health officials say.

The cholera outbreak prompted a Haitian law firm and its international partner to file a complaint against the U.N. last year on behalf of the victims, which is under review by its legal office.

The case could prove tricky because U.N. personnel are granted immunity under a status of forces agreement signed between the U.N. and Haiti.