Sri Lanka has recalled a section of its troops with the UN Peacekeeping Force in Haiti following the charge they had indulged in sexual abuse.
"A small number of troops had been accused of breaching the UN code of
discipline and the Sri Lankan government has taken immediate steps to
bring them back," Foreign Secretary Dr Palitha Kohona told Hindustan Times on Saturday.
Dr Kohona would not describe the nature of the breach nor did he reveal the number of troops involved, but the BBC had reported on Friday that the UN was sending home 108 of the 950 Sri Lankan troops who had been accused of sexual abuse, including underage girls.
The BBC quoted UN spokesperson, Michele Montas, as saying that Sri Lanka had told the world organisation that it would prosecute the offenders. The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services and the Sri Lankan authorities had overseen the investigations.
Montas also said that the UN was helping the rehabilitation of the abused women and children.
The Sri Lankan peace keeping troops were sent to Haiti amidst much fanfare by the Sri Lankan government under Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (2001-2004). Wickremesinghe expected that the internationally-backed talks with the LTTE going on at that time,would result in peace in Sri Lanka and that the country could afford to lend troops for UN peace keeping missions overseas.
It is significant that UN Peace Keepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia had also been accused of sexual abuses. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfed Nowak, had said that the standard for selecting peace keepers were "too low" and that concern over the low quality was "growing."
There had been similar complaints against the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) too when it was in war-torn North-Eastern Sri Lanka between July 1987 and March 1990. Human Rights groups and the LTTE (through the Mothers' Front), had lodged several complaints at that time and the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M.Karunanidhi, who was backing the LTTE at that time, publicly echoed the charges to the embarrassment of the Central government.