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UN peacekeepers accused of sexual assault in Haiti

Five Uruguayan peacekeepers serving with the UN mission in Haiti are under investigation, after graphic mobile phone footage has emerged allegedly showing them sexually assaulting an 18-year-old Haitian man.

The incident has been “vigorously condemned” by Haitian President Michel Martelly who described it as “an act that revolts the national conscience”.

It has led to a formal apology from Uruguayan President Jose Mujica who said,

"Although the damage is irreparable, have the certainty that we will investigate thoroughly and apply the harshest sanctions against those responsible."

Former US President Bill Clinton, the UN Special envoy to Haiti, also called the incident a "terrible thing" and regarding the pending investigation said, "The U.N. had to do something, and apparently they have."

The accused five soldiers have been recalled from their posts and Uruguay has also sacked its naval chief in Haiti.

The scandal has sparked angry demonstrations outside the UN barracks were the incident was alleged to have taken place and reignited calls for the UN mission, known as Minustah, to leave.

In 2007, it was reported that UN peacekeepers were having sex with Haitian girls as young as 13 for as little as $1.

Sri Lankan soldiers were accused of systematically raping Haitian women and girls, some as young as 7 years old.

The UN still refuses to disclose the outcome of its repatriation from Haiti of over 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers on allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation.

No action has been taken against those responsible for any of these actions, Inner City Press noted.

See our earlier post: "UN confirms sex charges against Sri Lankan troops in Haiti child abuse" (April 2008)