Haiti protests grow over man's 'rape' by UN troops

 

Renewed protests were expected in Haiti last night, amid mounting controversy over claims that UN peacekeepers sexually assaulted an 18-year-old man and then shared a videotape of the incident.

On Monday, several hundred locals gathered outside a UN base in Port-Salut, where the alleged attack took place. Earlier that day, the Haitian President Michel Martelly had described the incident as "collective rape" and called it "an act which revolts the national conscience".

The peaceful protest was prompted by last week's emergence of a 50-second video, shot on a mobile telephone, which allegedly showed a collection of Uruguayan peacekeepers pinning the man down on a mattress and pulling his trousers down.

They shouted "what's the problem here?" to which the man responded "no problem!" Then they laughed as a shirtless peacekeeper stood between the man's legs and appeared to thrust his crotch vigorously towards him before slapping the man's naked buttocks.

Uruguay's military authorities have attempted to characterise the incident, which took place on 20 July, as a prank that got out of hand. The UN said preliminary investigations have found no evidence that a rape took place. But the video has sparked anger in Haiti, where many locals are already upset by last year's outbreak of cholera, which killed 6,000 people and was blamed on poor hygiene at a camp run by Nepalese UN peacekeepers.

Adding to the controversy is news that a local physician, Dr Clifford Gauthier, examined the alleged victim five weeks after the attack, and found wounds that he says were "consistent" with sexual abuse.

The 18-year-old man has meanwhile told the Associated Press he is seeking compensation for his injuries. He failed to report the incident to authorities until it became a news story, he said, because he was "very scared".

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