UN peacekeepers involved in prostitution in Bosnia
- UN peacekeepers involved in prostitution in Bosnia
Bosnia: brothel raid
Twenty-five-year-old, "Olympia" has been bought and
sold seven times in the past nine months. Until two
weeks ago she was working as a prostitute in a bar in
Bosnia - one of an estimated 2000 women in the sex
that has burgeoned across the Balkans.
Olympia's story is typical: in September last year she
was lured from her home village in Romania to a town
near the Serbian border with the
prospect of a highly paid job. From there she was
kidnapped and taken to a bar in Serbia, where she was
held against her will before being shipped
on to Bosnia, where she was again sold for sex.
What's of particular interest in Olympia's story is
the detail of her client base. The majority were
local, some of them policemen, but a sizeable number
of the customers at the brothel in which she was held
were Americans, British and other foreigners, many of
them thought to have been serving with the United
Nations peace-keeping force in Bosnia.
It's a fact of life that some men use prostitutes, but
what's causing growing concern in the region is the
emerging evidence that members of the UN have also
become involved in helping to organise the sex trade.
A report due to be published next month by the
Washington-based justice organisation, Human Rights
Watch, will document a series of cases in
which peace-keepers are accused of collusion with
Last month the UN's former chief human rights officer
for the Tusla region gave evidence to the US Congress
that some peacekeepers are "knowingly
involved in the trade in partnership with organised
crime." And an industrial tribunal in Britain has also
been hearing evidence from a policewoman serving under
the UN who has blown the whistle on her
colleagues and is now claiming unfair dismissal
against her employers.
The UN itself has admitted that 15 international
police officers were expelled or voluntarily left
Bosnia after facing allegations of involvement in
trafficking. It has stepped up its efforts to bring
to book and has imposed a stricter code of practice
There are still serious questions surrounding the
effectiveness of the policing operation on the ground,
and the lack of transparency over the
way in which the UN has investigated previous cases in
which its personnel have been implicated.
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