Does U.S. abet Korean sex trade?
St. Petersburg Times 12/09/02: Mary Jacoby
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is investigating whether U.S. military patrols in South Korea have provided security for servicemen visiting bars and clubs staffed by women forced into prostitution.
The investigation centers on South Korea’s so-called camp towns, commercial districts that spring up around U.S. military bases and cater to servicemen.
Offering the promise of legitimate work, entrepreneurs there have allegedly lured women from Russia and the Philippines, taken their passports, and pressured or coerced them into prostitution.
Some observers say the servicemen play a key role in encouraging the trafficking of women to South Korea. “They are the demand and the women are the supply,” said Katharine Moon, a political scientist at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and the author of a book about U.S. military members and South Korean prostitution.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who requested the Pentagon inquiry, is especially concerned about the role of U.S. “courtesy patrols,” an informal version of military police, who have been filmed standing watch as servicemen socialized with the women in bars.
“When American soldiers acting in their official capacity effectively condone the practice of soliciting the services of trafficked persons, the efforts of Congress, the State Department and other U.S. government agencies are severely undermined,” Smith and 12 other lawmakers wrote Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in May.
A Pentagon spokeswoman confirmed that the Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office is investigating the allegations. Nick Manetto, a spokesman for Smith, said the Pentagon inspectors left Thursday for a two-week fact-finding trip to South Korea.
The Inspector General’s Office will eventually examine conditions around U.S. military bases worldwide, Manetto said.
For now, investigators are expected to examine conditions around Camp Casey, an Army base in Tongduchon, about 40 miles north of Seoul; Osan Air Base, 48 miles south of the demilitarized zone on the border with North Korea; and other installations.
Smith asked for the inquiry after an Ohio television station aired a hidden-camera broadcast last summer of U.S. service members at the clubs. A reporter from Fox television affiliate WJW in Cleveland had traveled to the camp town around Camp Casey, where he recorded servicemen socializing with the women in bars and military courtesy patrols standing watch nearby.
Some servicemen talked openly about the plight of the mostly Russian and Filipino women there. The passports of many have been taken away, making them virtual slaves of the bar owners.
The reporter, Tom Merriman, is a former Ohio deputy attorney general who once prosecuted cases in the Cleveland area against Korean massage parlors where women worked as prostitutes. “I always had an interest in how these women got here,” Merriman said.
When he became a TV news reporter, Merriman got the chance to find out. The trail led him to the South Korean camp towns.
Many of the Korean women who ended up in Ohio had come to the United States with U.S. servicemen whom they had met in clubs. The servicemen sometimes paid as much as $3,000 to club owners for the women’s freedom, Merriman said.
In the United States, the relationships or marriages would fall apart, and the women would begin working in massage parlors to survive, he said.
But when Merriman went to South Korea last summer, he found that most of the women in the camp town clubs are no longer Korean. Instead, they are Russians and Filipinos lured with promises of good jobs, then forced to work as bar hosts and prostitutes.
“In many cases, their travel documents are taken away by their labor broker, their trafficker, their bar owner, their manager, or whoever,” said Moon, who last visited the camp towns in May.
Technically, the women are hosts who sell expensive glasses of juice or alcohol to the servicemen. But because most of the proceeds from the beverage sales go to the bar owner, leaving the women with little money, they “are sometimes forced, sometimes pressured, to sell sex,” Moon said.
Some clubs also have back rooms for privacy with the women. The back rooms, of course, cost extra. Tongduchon’s sex trade is also well advertised on the Internet.
“Short time (30 minutes) with a hot phillipina . . . will run you about 60-80 dollars,” says one Web site. (The misspelling is in the original.)
In October, the Philippine government filed a lawsuit against a South Korean brothel owner for forcing 11 Filipino women into prostitution. The women had entered the country on visas authorizing them to work in the arts and show business.
“My gosh! It really appears that our job here will be prostitute,” one of the women wrote after she arrived in Tongduchon, according to lawsuit documents cited by the Los Angeles Times.
According to U.S. government reports, at least 700,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked worldwide each year. That includes 50,000 people trafficked into the United States to work in sweatshops, brothels and farm fields.
Smith was the lead sponsor of a 2000 law to combat international human trafficking. The law increased penalties in the United States for bringing people into the country and using force or intimidation to keep them at work. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act also established a State Department office to monitor and combat trafficking networks worldwide.
The idea that U.S. military members could be helping trafficking networks flourish while other arms of the American government are working to stamp them out is unacceptable, Smith said.
Courtesy patrols are an informal version of military police, set up to “monitor the safety and behavior of military personnel patronizing establishments in and around the military installation,” Army Secretary Thomas Whitesaid in a June letter to Smith.
White denied that the Army knowingly facilitated the trafficking of women and thanked Smith for bringing the matter to his attention.
The patrols are supposed to keep servicemen in line and prevent assaults and terrorist attacks against them. The Fox report showed uniformed courtesy patrols guarding areas around the clubs while servicemen partied with the hosts.
Military regulations prohibit servicemen from entering houses of prostitution and require them to obey the laws of host nations. Prostitution is illegal in South Korea.
Insight Magazine 01/14/02: Kelly Patricia O’Meara
Original Link: http://www.insightmag.com/main.cfm/include/detail/storyid/163052.html
Middle-aged men having sex with 12- to 15-year-olds was too much for Ben Johnston, a hulking 6-foot-5-inch Texan, and more than a year ago he blew the whistle on his employer, DynCorp, a U.S. contracting company doing business in Bosnia.
According to the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) lawsuit filed in Texas on behalf of the former DynCorp aircraft mechanic, “in the latter part of 1999 Johnston learned that employees and supervisors from DynCorp were engaging in perverse, illegal and inhumane behavior [and] were purchasing illegal weapons, women, forged passports and [participating in] other immoral acts. Johnston witnessed coworkers and supervisors literally buying and selling women for their own personal enjoyment, and employees would brag about the various ages and talents of the individual slaves they had purchased.”
Rather than acknowledge and reward Johnston’s effort to get this behavior stopped, DynCorp fired him, forcing him into protective custody by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) until the investigators could get him safely out of Kosovo and returned to the United States. That departure from the war-torn country was a far cry from what Johnston imagined a year earlier when he arrived in Bosnia to begin a three-year U.S. Air Force contract with DynCorp as an aircraft-maintenance technician for Apache and Blackhawk helicopters.
For more than 50 years DynCorp, based in Reston, Va., has been a worldwide force providing maintenance support to the U.S. military through contract field teams (CFTs). As one of the federal government’s top 25 contractors, DynCorp has received nearly $1 billion since 1995 for these services and has deployed 181 personnel to Bosnia during the last six years. Although DynCorp long has been respected for such work, according to Johnston and internal DynCorp communications it appears that extracurricular sexcapades on the part of its employees were tolerated by some as part of its business in Bosnia.
But DynCorp was nervous. For instance, an internal e-mail from DynCorp employee Darrin Mills, who apparently was sent to Bosnia to look into reported problems, said, “I met with Col. Braun [a base supervisor] yesterday. He is very concerned about the CID investigation; however, he views it mostly as a DynCorp problem. What he wanted to talk about most was how I am going to fix the maintenance problems here and how the investigation is going to impact our ability to fix his airplanes.” The Mills e-mail continued: “The first thing he told me is that ‘they are tired of having smoke blown up their ass.’ They don’t want anymore empty promises.”
An e-mail from Dyncorp’s Bosnia site supervisor, John Hirtz (later fired for alleged sexual indiscretions), explains DynCorp’s position in Bosnia. “The bottom line is that DynCorp has taken what used to be a real positive program that has very high visibility with every Army unit in the world and turned it into a bag of worms. Poor quality was the major issue.”
Johnston was on the ground and saw firsthand what the military was complaining about. “My main problem,” he explains, “was [sexual misbehavior] with the kids, but I wasn’t too happy with them ripping off the government, either. DynCorp is just as immoral and elite as possible, and any rule they can break they do. There was this one guy who would hide parts so we would have to wait for parts and, when the military would question why it was taking so long, he’d pull out the part and say ‘Hey, you need to install this.’ They’d have us replace windows in helicopters that weren’t bad just to get paid. They had one kid, James Harlin, over there who was right out of high school and he didn’t even know the names and purposes of the basic tools. Soldiers that are paid $18,000 a year know more than this kid, but this is the way they [DynCorp] grease their pockets. What they say in Bosnia is that DynCorp just needs a warm body that’s the DynCorp slogan. Even if you don’t do an eight-hour day, they’ll sign you in for it because that’s how they bill the government. It’s a total fraud.”
Remember, Johnston was fired by this company. He laughs bitterly recalling the work habits of a DynCorp employee in Bosnia who “weighed 400 pounds and would stick cheeseburgers in his pockets and eat them while he worked. The problem was he would literally fall asleep every five minutes. One time he fell asleep with a torch in his hand and burned a hole through the plastic on an aircraft.” This same man, according to Johnston, “owned a girl who couldn’t have been more than 14 years old. It’s a sick sight anyway to see any grown man [having sex] with a child, but to see some 45-year-old man who weighs 400 pounds with a little girl, it just makes you sick.” It is precisely these allegations that Johnston believes got him fired.
Johnston reports that he had been in Bosnia only a few days when he became aware of misbehavior in which many of his DynCorp colleagues were involved. He tells INSIGHT, “I noticed there were problems as soon as I got there, and I tried to be covert because I knew it was a rougher crowd than I’d ever dealt with. It’s not like I don’t drink or anything, but DynCorp employees would come to work drunk. A DynCorp van would pick us up every morning and you could smell the alcohol on them. There were big-time drinking issues. I always told these guys what I thought of what they were doing, and I guess they just thought I was a self-righteous fool or something, but I didn’t care what they thought.”
The mix of drunkenness and working on multimillion-dollar aircraft upon which the lives of U.S. military personnel depended was a serious enough issue, but Johnston drew the line when it came to buying young girls and women as sex slaves. “I heard talk about the prostitution right away, but it took some time before I understood that they were buying these girls. I’d tell them that it was wrong and that it was no different than slavery that you can’t buy women. But they’d buy the women’s passports and they [then] owned them and would sell them to each other.”
“At first,” explains Johnston, “I just told the guys it was wrong. Then I went to my supervisors, including John Hirtz, although at the time I didn’t realize how deep into it he was. Later I learned that he had videotaped himself having sex with two girls and CID has that video as evidence. Hirtz is the guy who would take new employees to the brothels and set them up so he got his women free. The Serbian mafia would give Hirtz the women free and, when one of the guys was leaving the country, Hirtz would go to the mafia and make sure that the guys didn’t owe them any money.”
“None of the girls,” continues Johnston, “were from Bosnia. They were from Russia, Romania and other places, and they were imported in by DynCorp and the Serbian mafia. These guys would say ‘I gotta go to Serbia this weekend to pick up three girls.’ They talk about it and brag about how much they pay for them usually between $600 and $800. In fact, there was this one guy who had to be 60 years old who had a girl who couldn’t have been 14. DynCorp leadership was 100 percent in bed with the mafia over there. I didn’t get any results from talking to DynCorp officials, so I went to Army CID and I drove around with them, pointing out everyone’s houses who owned women and weapons.”
That’s when Johnston’s life took a dramatic turn.
On June 2, 2000, members of the 48th Military Police Detachment conducted a sting on the DynCorp hangar at Comanche Base Camp, one of two U.S. bases in Bosnia, and all DynCorp personnel were detained for questioning. CID spent several weeks working the investigation and the results appear to support Johnston’s allegations. For example, according to DynCorp employee Kevin Werner’s sworn statement to CID, “during my last six months I have come to know a man we call ‘Debeli,’ which is Bosnian for fat boy. He is the operator of a nightclub by the name of Harley’s that offers prostitution. Women are sold hourly, nightly or permanently.”
Werner admitted to having purchased a woman to get her out of prostitution and named other DynCorp employees who also had paid to own women. He further admitted to having purchased weapons (against the law in Bosnia) and it was Werner who turned over to CID the videotape made by Hirtz. Werner apparently intended to use the video as leverage in the event that Hirtz decided to fire him. Werner tells CID, “I told him [Hirtz] I had a copy and that all I wanted was to be treated fairly. If I was going to be fired or laid off, I wanted it to be because of my work performance and not because he was not happy with me.”
According to Hirtz’s own sworn statement to CID, there appears to be little doubt that he did indeed rape one of the girls with whom he is shown having sexual intercourse in his homemade video.
CID: Did you have sexual intercourse with the second woman on the tape?
CID: Did you have intercourse with the second woman after she said “no” to you?
Hirtz: I don’t recall her saying that. I don’t think it was her saying “no.”
CID: Who do you think said “no”?
Hirtz: I don’t know.
CID: According to what you witnessed on the videotape played for you in which you were having sexual intercourse with the second woman, did you have sexual intercourse with the second woman after she said “no” to you?
CID: Did you know you were being videotaped?
Hirtz: Yes. I set it up.
CID: Did you know it is wrong to force yourself upon someone without their consent?
The CID agents did not ask any of the men involved what the ages of the “women” were who had been purchased or used for prostitution. According to CID, which sought guidance from the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate in Bosnia, “under the Dayton Peace Accord, the contractors were protected from Bosnian law which did not apply to them. They knew of no [U.S.] federal laws that would apply to these individuals at this time.”
However, CID took another look and, according to the investigation report, under Paragraph 5 of the NATO Agreement Between the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia regarding the status of NATO and its personnel, contractors “were not immune from local prosecution if the acts were committed outside the scope of their official duties.”
Incredibly, the CID case was closed in June 2000 and turned over to the Bosnian authorities. DynCorp says it conducted its own investigation, and Hirtz and Werner were fired by DynCorp and returned to the United States but were not prosecuted. Experts in slave trafficking aren’t buying the CID’s interpretation of the law.
Widney Brown, an advocate for Human Rights Watch, tells INSIGHT “our government has an obligation to tell these companies that this behavior is wrong and they will be held accountable. They should be sending a clear message that it won’t be tolerated. One would hope that these people wouldn’t need to be told that they can’t buy women, but you have to start off by laying the ground rules. Rape is a crime in any jurisdiction and there should not be impunity for anyone. Firing someone is not sufficient punishment. This is a very distressing story especially when you think that these people and organizations are going into these countries to try and make it better, to restore a rule of law and some civility.”
Christine Dolan, founder of the International Humanitarian Campaign Against the Exploitation of Children, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, tells Insight: “What is surprising to me is that Dyncorp has kept this contract. The U.S. says it wants to eradicate trafficking of people, has established an office in the State Department for this purpose, and yet neither State nor the government-contracting authorities have stepped in and done an investigation of this matter.”
Dolan says, “It’s not just Americans who are participating in these illegal acts. But what makes this more egregious for the U.S. is that our purpose in those regions is to restore some sense of civility. Now you’ve got employees of U.S. contractors in bed with the local mafia and buying kids for sex! That these guys have some kind of immunity from prosecution is morally outrageous. How can men be allowed to get away with rape simply because of location? Rape is a crime no matter where it occurs and it’s important to remember that even prostitution is against the law in Bosnia. The message we’re sending to kids is that it’s okay for America’s representatives to rape children. We talk about the future of the children, helping to build economies, democracy, the rule of law, and at the same time we fail to prosecute cases like this. That is immoral and hypocritical, and if DynCorp is involved in this in any way it should forfeit its contract and pay restitution in the form of training about trafficking.”
Charlene Wheeless, a spokeswoman for DynCorp, vehemently denies any culpability on the part of the company, According to Wheeless, “The notion that a company such as DynCorp would turn a blind eye to illegal behavior by our employees is incomprehensible. DynCorp adheres to a core set of values that has served as the backbone of our corporation for the last 55 years, helping us become one of the largest and most respected professional-services and outsourcing companies in the world. We can’t stress strongly enough that, as an employee-owned corporation, we take ethics very seriously. DynCorp stands by its decision to terminate [whistle-blower] Ben Johnston, who was terminated for cause.”
What was the “cause” for which Johnston was fired? He received his only reprimand from DynCorp one day prior to the sting on the DynCorp hangar when Johnston was working with CID. A week later he received a letter of discharge for bringing “discredit to the company and the U.S. Army while working in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina.” The discharge notice did not say how Johnston “brought discredit to the company.”
It soon developed conveniently, according to Johnston’s attorneys, that he was implicated by a DynCorp employee for illegal activity in Bosnia. Harlin, the young high-school graduate Johnston complained had no experience in aircraft maintenance and didn’t even know the purposes of the basic tools, provided a sworn statement to CID about Johnston. Asked if anyone ever had offered to sell him a weapon, Harlin fingered Johnston and DynCorp employee Tom Oliver, who also had disapproved of the behavior of DynCorp employees.
Harlin even alleged that Johnston was “hanging out with Kevin Werner.” Although Werner had no problem revealing the names and illegal activities of other DynCorp employees, Werner did not mention Johnston’s name in his sworn statement.
Kevin Glasheen, Johnston’s attorney, says flatly of this: “It’s DynCorp’s effort to undermine Ben’s credibility. But I think once the jury hears this case, that accusation is only going to make them more angry at DynCorp. In order to make our claim, we have to show that DynCorp was retaliating against Ben, and that fits under racketeering. There is a lot of evidence that shows this was what they were doing and that it went all the way up the management chain.”
According to Glasheen, “DynCorp says that whatever these guys were doing isn’t corporate activity and they’re not responsible for it. But this problem permeated their business and management and they made business decisions to further the scheme and to cover it up. We have to show that there was a causal connection between Ben’s whistle-blowing about the sex trade and his being fired. We can do that. We’re here to prove a retaliation case, not convict DynCorp of participating in the sex-slave trade.
“What you have here is a Lord of the Flies mentality. Basically you’ve got a bunch of strong men who are raping and manipulating young girls who have been kidnapped from their homes. Who’s the bad guy? Is it the guy who buys the girl to give her freedom, the one who kidnaps her and sells her or the one who liberates her and ends up having sex with her? And what does it mean when the U.S. steps up and says, ‘We don’t have any jurisdiction’? That’s absurd.”
The outraged attorney pauses for breath. “This is more than one twisted mind. There was a real corporate culture with a deep commitment to a cover-up. And it’s outrageous that DynCorp still is being paid by the government on this contract. The worst thing I’ve seen is a DynCorp e-mail after this first came up where they’re saying how they have turned this thing into a marketing success, that they have convinced the government that they could handle something like this.”
Johnston is not the only DynCorp employee to blow the whistle and sue the billion-dollar government contractor. Kathryn Bolkovac, a U.N. International Police Force monitor hired by the U.S. company on another U.N.-related contract, has filed a lawsuit in Great Britain against DynCorp for wrongful termination. DynCorp had a $15 million contract to hire and train police officers for duty in Bosnia at the time she reported such officers were paying for prostitutes and participating in sex-trafficking. Many of these were forced to resign under suspicion of illegal activity, but none have been prosecuted, as they also enjoy immunity from prosecution in Bosnia.
DynCorp has admitted it fired five employees for similar illegal activities prior to Johnston’s charges.
But Johnston worries about what this company’s culture does to the reputation of the United States. “The Bosnians think we’re all trash. It’s a shame. When I was there as a soldier they loved us, but DynCorp employees have changed how they think about us. I tried to tell them that this is not how all Americans act, but it’s hard to convince them when you see what they’re seeing. The fact is, DynCorp is the worst diplomat you could possibly have over there.”
Johnston’s attorney looks to the outcome. “How this all ends,” says Glasheen, “will say a lot about what we stand for and what we won’t stand for.”
Teenagers ‘used for sex by UN in Bosnia’
London Telegraph 04/25/02: Stewart Payne
A HUMAN rights investigator who claims she was sacked for exposing the sexual abuse of Bosnian women by her United Nations colleagues, told a tribunal yesterday that girls as young as 15 were offered for sex.
Kathryn Bolkovac, 41, said women were forced to dance naked in Bosnian bars frequented by UN police officers.
Mrs Bolkovac is using a British employment tribunal to bring her case of unfair dismissal from an American recruitment agency which has an office in the UK.
The former American policewoman claims she was sacked because she sent an email to Jacques Paul Klein, the chief of UN mission in Bosnia-Hercegovina, which highlighted the sexual exploitation of women by those who had been sent to protect them from the sex trade.
Details of the email, sent in October 2000, were given to the tribunal at Southampton, Hants, yesterday.
In it, Mrs Bolkovac, a mother of three from Lincoln, Nebraska, claims that bars were frequented by UN police officers and other humanitarian workers who availed themselves of women forced into prostitution.
The tribunal has heard that her employer, the US-based agency DynCorp, which is registered with the State Department to provide American police officers to work on humanitarian and peacekeeping duties, admits that there was a problem with officers using prostitutes and that one was sacked for paying for a woman to live with him to provide sexual services.
But the company, which has an office in Salisbury, Wilts, denies that it sacked Mrs Bolkovac for exposing the abuse and said that she was dismissed for time-sheet irregularities.
In her email, Mrs Bolkovac said that women and girls were handed over to bar owners and told to perform sex acts to pay for their costumes.
“The women who refused were locked in rooms and withheld food and outside contact for days or weeks. After this time they are told to dance naked on table tops and sit with clients.
“If the women still refuse to perform sex acts with the customers they are beaten and raped in the rooms by the bar owners and their associates. They are told if they go to the police they will be arrested for prostitution and being an illegal immigrant.”
The tribunal has heard that after sending the e-mail Mrs Bolkovac, who was investigating human trafficking and forced prostitution, was demoted and removed from front-line policing.
In April 2001, she was sacked for allegedly falsifying her time sheets, which she denies.
Giving evidence to the tribunal, Mrs Bolkovac said she had discovered “extensive use of brothels” by UN police and other peacekeepers.
She said she also found that international staff were helping local police to sell women for the sex trade and she feared this was being “covered up”.
“The victims of trafficking were reporting extensive use of the brothels and other criminal acts by the international community and international police task force,” she said.
She claimed that Mike Stiers, the international police task force’s deputy commissioner, had flippantly dismissed victims of human trafficking as “just prostitutes”.
This attitude led many members of the peacekeeping mission to believe it was acceptable to use sex slaves and go to brothels, she said.
Spencer Wickham, the head of DynCorp, has told the tribunal he sacked three police officers for using prostitutes.
The tribunal is taking place in Britain because DynCorp contracts state they are governed by UK employment law.
DynCorp’s Bosnia site manager, Pascal Budge, said that after Mrs Bolkovac’s email was sent, he circulated a memo warning officers they would be sent home if caught using prostitutes.
But Mrs Bolkovac called an investigation by DynCorp into her allegations “inadequate”.
The tribunal continues.
U.N. Finally Forced to Probe Its Pedophilia Scandal
Original Link: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/5/6/151901.shtml
The United Nations’ massive pedophilia scandal has not received 1 percent of the media attention given to the Catholic Church’s homosexual priest scandal. Finally some attention is being paid, now that the U.N.’s cover is blown.
As world leaders converge on New York for the controversial conference on children this week, U.N. investigators and relief agencies say they are finally trying to stop recurrence of sexual abuse against West African refugee children by U.N. “peacekeepers” and aid workers.
The scale of allegations, partly revealed Feb. 26, sent shock waves through the “international aid community” and led to calls from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and governments for an urgent investigation in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Calls were raised for measures to ensure that refugee children were protected worldwide from abuse.
About a half-dozen investigators from the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services in New York, plus investigators from the office of the inspector-general of the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees, were still examining the allegations, senior U.N. officials told United Press International.
The U.N. investigating team also includes a medical doctor, the same sources said.
It was unclear how long the investigation will last. “We’re all waiting for the results of the inquiry to take action,” said an official from one of the agencies under investigation.
After formal moves by UNHCR last December, a preliminary OIOS investigation was initiated in January, but it only moved into full gear in March, said a U.N. official.
Not Much Progress
The U.N.’s investigating arm, however, also came under heavy criticism by senior Western diplomats for the slow pace of its work on the ground in the three countries. The limited number of investigators at the oversight office, less than 20, partly explains the grinding pace of the inquiry.
“We can barely cope with the cases that are being referred to us,” Dileep Nair, U.N. undersecretary general and chief of OIOS, told UPI.
In 2001, the burdened OIOS had more than 400 cases referred to it ranging from petty to serious alleged breaches linked to U.N. matters.
Some officials close to the investigation reckon a final report could be ready by the end of the month.
Parallel investigations in the field have also been initiated by many of the nearly 40 non-governmental organizations such as Save the Children-UK and Doctors Without Borders.
Brendan Paddy, a spokesman for Save the Children-UK, told UPI on Sunday that the agency has conducted its own investigation and sacked one staff member in Guinea and stopped two community volunteers from participating in its aid work.
Similarly, a spokesman for Doctors Without Borders, Rafael Vilasanjuan, told UPI the group has also been conducting an investigation into the allegations but so far “we have not found any concrete evidence.
“If there is any evidence, we will take all the measures.” He said Doctors Without Borders had “no tolerance” for such behavior.
In the meantime, U.N. agencies and many of the NGOs were busy at work putting in place new checks and balances in the field to prevent sexual abuse of refugee children.
Some of the measures have included beefing up staff by more than 35 in areas such as UNHCR emergency, protection and community services in the three countries, including 12 solely to respond to sexual exploitation.
Rotation of staff to different camps has also been expanded.
Moreover, the U.N. World Food Program has increased the number of female monitors and held meetings with all staff and NGOs to highlight the agency’s “zero tolerance” policy over sexual abuse, said WFP spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume.
Reactionary U.N. Knew of Atrocities
However, the United Nations has not always been that proactive on this issue.
A full copy of the joint study sponsored by the UNHCR and SC-UK, obtained by UPI, notes that during debriefing sessions in all three countries:
“UNHCR staff, government representatives and the agency staff, including senior managers, acknowledged that they knew such practices happened. Regrettably, even in situations where such information had been brought to their attention in the past, no action had been taken to monitor or redress the situation.”
The number of allegations documented “is a critical indicator of the scale of this problem,” it said.
U.N. Workers Among ‘Worst Sexual Exploiters of Children’
“Agency workers from the international and local NGOs as well as U.N. agencies were ranked as among the worst sex exploiters of children, often using the very humanitarian aid and services intended to benefit the refugee population as a tool of exploitation.”
The assessment team listed sexual allegations and called for further investigation against workers from 42 agencies and 67 individuals.
“The details of these allegations were submitted to UNHCR in confidential lists as the mission was ongoing,” the report said.
The U.N. agencies identified included UNHCR and WFP and the international “peacekeepers” from nine countries stationed in Sierra Leone.
United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) battalions whose “peacekeepers” are alleged to be involved in sexual exploitation include those from Britain, Kenya, Ghana, Guinea, India, Nigeria (Ecomog force before 2000), Pakistan, Bangladesh and Zambia.
In addition, the assessment mission report identified staff from 10 NGOs in Liberia, 10 NGOs in Sierra Leone and 16 NGOs in Guinea for alleged sexual abuse.
Besides Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children-UK, other NGOs listed for alleged abuses by their mainly locally employed staff included, among others:
The Red Cross in Trouble Yet Again
The American Refugee Committee; the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies/Guinean Red Cross; Lutheran World Service/World Federation; Norwegian Refuge Council; Council of Churches, Sierra Leone; Germany’s BMZ; and Medical Relief International (MERLIN); and Family Empowerment Program.
In July 2001, children accounted for about 45 percent of the world’s refugees and others of concern assisted by the U.N. refugee agency. The percentage of children, the report said, was even higher in Guinea and Liberia: at 63 percent in Guinea or 426,140; and 50 percent in Liberia, or 33,766.
The full 84-page report, written in January after a six-week mission to the three countries, has not yet been published.
BBC Exposes the Cover-up
It was only after the British Broadcasting Corp. revealed the contents of the assessment mission that UNHCR and Save the Children group revealed some of report’s findings and recommendations.
The initial refusal by UNHCR and Save the Children-UK to furnish to other NGOs, confidentially, the names of the alleged 67 individuals created tensions among the normally close-knit “humanitarian community.” The UNHCR cited legal concerns, fears about the safety of child victims still living in camps, and the limitations of anecdotal information, for its stance.
After a number of heated closed-door meetings, however, the NGOs were furnished with the confidential information they had been seeking in March.
But humanitarian officials familiar with the brief said many sex abuse victims are afraid to take part in a formal investigation and don’t come forward for fear of vengeance and recrimination.
The report notes that most “incidents of sexual violence go unreported,” and concludes that the incidence of the problem may be much higher than the numbers cited in the report suggest.
Indeed, sources close to the investigation said early indications were that they had difficulties to get firsthand accounts from victims.
Observations in the report highlight the problems victims face.
“In order for a refugee to make a report, they would have to go through the same persons who themselves are perpetrators of sexual exploitation. Most staff appear to connive to hide the actions of other staff.”
Sickening Double Standard
So let’s see: Senior U.N. officials knew of the widespread pedophilia. Not only did they not take action against the perpetrators, they covered up the atrocities.
And even after the scandal comes to light, most media give this major news event little or no coverage.
Imagine the screaming headlines and worldwide outrage if the Catholic Church or any other church allowed sexual abuse of children on such a massive scale. Could the media establishment’s pro-U.N., anti-religious bias have anything to do with the stunning discrepancy?
Child sex book given out at U.N. summit
Washington Times 05/10/02: George Archibald
Original Link: http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020510-25256488.htm
A UNICEF-funded book being passed out at the United Nations Child Summit encourages children to engage in sexual activities with other minors and with homosexuals and animals.
As the delegations to the summit remain deadlocked on abortion, international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that support the U.S. delegation’s anti-abortion stance circulated copies of pages from a UNICEF-funded book given to delegates from Latin America that promotes sexual activity and abortion among teens in their countries.
“Reproductive health includes the following components: Counseling on sexuality, pregnancy, methods of contraception, abortion, infertility, infections and diseases,” says the Spanish-language book, whose title translates to “Theoretic Elements for Working with Mothers and Pregnant Teens.”
An accompanying workshop book produced by the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) tells Latin American mothers and teens: “Situations in which you can obtain sexual pleasure: 1. Masturbation. 2. Sexual relations with a partner whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. 3. A sexual response that is directed toward inanimate objects, animals, minors, non-consenting persons.”
The book, which was distributed by the Mexican government with U.N. funding, suggests lesbian sex as an acceptable alternative for girls.
“Sexual relations with a partner: Here we should insist there is no ideal or perfect relations between two or several people,” the book says. “The one that gives us the most satisfaction and that which is adopted to our way of being and the style of life we have chosen. This is why we encounter many differences among women. Some women like to have relations with men. And others with another woman.”
UNICEF spokesman Alfred Ironside acknowledged U.N. funding for the book, but said it was produced by the Mexican government in 1999 and pulled from circulation “when the content was more carefully reviewed.”
Mr. Ironside said he did not know how many of the books were circulated. “A very small number were produced fewer than a thousand,” he said. “It was pulled out of circulation when the content was more carefully reviewed.”
“That book was a product of the Mexican government, supported by UNICEF financially as part of UNICEF’s support to the Mexican government,” Mr. Ironside said.
“We do everything we do in full agreement with the governments we support. We do not operate independently,” he said.
He said the book was “intended as a training manual for people working with adolescent women to prevent teen pregnancy. That publication was a compilation of articles by different contributors and has a very clear disclaimer in the front that the views of the writers do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.”
The workshop book is being passed out by anti-abortion NGOs to persuade delegates from the large Latin American bloc of countries called the Rio Group to support the U.S. proposal to remove ambiguous language from the child-summit action document, which has been used in the past by U.N. agencies to promote abortion.
Delegations to the U.N. Child Summit remained deadlocked yesterday in closed-door negotiations over abortion and other hot-button issues that have held up final agreement on a U.N. action agenda to protect the world’s children.
The U.S. delegation, praised by pro-family groups for standing firm to ensure the agenda does not sanction continued U.N. promotion of abortions, was attacked by NGO critics for a second day at an afternoon briefing, NGO members at the meeting said.
Douglas Sylva, an official with the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, called the briefing “an NGO feeding frenzy,” in which the United States was attacked for its position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; arms sales to allies; the Bush administration’s support of capital punishment; and U.S. failure to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“The fact that the United States is the only country besides Somalia that has not ratified [the] child’s rights [convention] is shocking,” said Paula Daeppen, director in Zurich for the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas.
“We’re supposed to be a moral leader of the world and child friendly,” she said.
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat, told the meeting she applauded the administration’s work to protect children from pornography, exploitation and “child soldiering.” But she said she disagreed with the U.S. delegation on some issues.
“There needs to be flexibility on life,” she said an apparent reference to the administration’s strong anti-abortion stance. A person close to the congresswoman, who asked to remain anonymous, said her remarks were intended to urge “more flexibility on family planning.”
Abortion is not mentioned directly in the draft child-summit document, but UNICEF, which organized the 187-country special session of the General Assembly, and the U.N. Fund for Population Activities, interpret the ambiguous phrase “reproductive health services” to include abortion.
A senior Canadian negotiator told delegates in earlier preparatory meetings that the term includes abortion, prompting the Bush administration to start pushing for the alternate term “reproductive health care.”
European countries, with the exception of Spain, along with Canada, Japan and New Zealand oppose the U.S. position. Muslim nations and some African countries also support the United States.
The Rio Group, whose delegations say their predominantly Catholic populations don’t condone abortion, said there is no danger the term “reproductive health services” will be used to promote abortions in Latin America.
6,000 children smuggled to the west each year for sex
London Guardian 07/12/02: Philip Willan
Original Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,753747,00.html
A growing number of adolescent girls from eastern Europe are being sold into sex slavery in the west, charitable organisations told an international conference on child trafficking in Rome yesterday.
Every year more than 6,000 children aged between 12 and 16 are smuggled into western Europe to work as prostitutes and drug traffickers or to beg, the children’s charity Terre des Hommes said.
Around 2 million juveniles worldwide fall victim to people-smugglers every year, it said.
Researchers have identified north-eastern Italy as a key sorting centre for girls from eastern Europe who are either sold by their parents, kidnapped by organised crime gangs, or lured abroad by the mirage of a better life.
There is a particularly high concentration of juvenile sex slaves in the area between Padua and Venice, with 20% of prostitutes under the age of 18, compared to 5% in other Italian cities, the charity said.
Last year 250 girls managed to escape from their exploiters and seek assistance from the Italian state.
Those falling victim to people-traffickers are becoming younger, and the crime gangs are adopting increasingly sophisticated techniques to prevent them from coming to the attention of the police, said Barbara Limanowska, the author of a Unicef report on the trafficking of women and children in south-eastern Europe.
Some 10-30% of all eastern European sex workers areminors, Ms Limanowska said. Save the Children estimates that up to 80% of people trafficked from Albania are teenage girls under 18.
Italy is the people-smugglers’ gateway to western Europe, Ms Limanowska said, while Turkey is now the staging post for women on their way to the Middle East.
“The women are kept in apartments and places where police access is not easy, and then work in bars, clubs and brothels rather than on the streets,” she said.
“The gangs use mobile phones to organise their activity and move the girls from place to place to avoid discovery.”
Ms Limanowska said Albanian gangs, notorious for their ferocity, were taking control of the prostitution business throughout Europe.
Ms Limanowska said there was strong demand for the services of teenage prostitutes, and no evidence that western clients were affected by either moral scruples or fear of breaking the law.
“It’s not only the traffickers and the clients that don’t care that the women are under age, but the assisting agencies as well,” she said. “That has got to change.”
For the pimps, “ownership” of an under-18 prostitute can be a source of pride, according to another report. The risks and rewards involved confer a form of prestige on the underworld bosses.
Ms Limanowska said it was time that greater emphasis was put on the human rights of the victims, rather than focusing attention on the phenomenon as a security or migration issue.
“The Italian model is exceptional in Europe. It’s more humane, but also more productive. There is better assistance to the victims, but also a lot of work done on the prosecution of traffickers. That is important for the safety of the women,” said Ms Limanowska.
“It’s vital that they stay and testify against their exploiters rather than simply being sent back to their country of origin.”
She said that Britain had been slow to recognise the sexual exploitation of minors.
“There are cases in Britain of women from Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania – but there is not much information about what is really going on. They have only woken up to the problem recently.”
Woman sacked for revealing UN links with sex trade
How a tribunal vindicated an investigator who blew whistle on workers in Bosnia
London Times 08/07/02: Daniel McGrory
Original Link: (removed from Times online
A DAMNING dossier sent by Kathryn Bolkovac to her employers, detailing UN workers involvement in the sex trade in Bosnia, cost the American her job with the international police force.
She was sacked after disclosing that UN peacekeepers went to nightclubs where girls as young as 15 were forced to dance naked and have sex with customers, and that UN personnel and international aid workers were linked to prostitution rings in the Balkans.
After a two-year battle, an employment tribunal ruled yesterday that Ms Bolkovac was unfairly dismissed by DynCorp, an American company whose branch in Salisbury, Wiltshire, dealt with the contracts of the American officers working for the international police force in Bosnia. There will be a further hearing at Southampton to decide the amount of compensation DynCorp must pay Ms Bolkovac.
During her time in Bosnia as an investigator, Ms Bolkovac, 41, uncovered evidence of girls who refused to have sex being beaten and raped in bars by their pimps while peacekeepers stood and watched. She discovered that one UN policeman who was supposed to be investigating the sex trade paid $700 to a bar owner for an underage girl who he kept captive in his apartment to use in his own prostitution racket.
She detailed her findings in a series of explicit e-mails to DynCorp, but after first being demoted and transferred from the investigation she was sacked for allegedly falsifying her timekeeping records.
Charles Twiss, the tribunal chairman, said: ‘We have considered DynCorp’s explanation of why they dismissed her and find it completely unbelievable. There is no doubt whatever that the reason for her dismissal was that she made a protected disclosure and was unfairly dismissed.’
There are powerful voices in support of her claims, including that of Madeleine Rees, the head of the UN Human Rights Commission office in Sarajevo, who is in no doubt that trafficking in women started with the arrival of the international peacekeepers in 1992.
As well as 21,000 Nato peacekeepers and aid workers, there were police from 40 countries trying to keep Bosnia’s warring factions apart.
‘When the civil war ended in 1992 there were curfews and ordinary people didn’t have cars or money, Ms Rees said. ‘Only the international community would have been able to get to the flats and bars being made available with foreign women.’ She estimates that there are more than 900 premises in Bosnia where sex can be bought.
Richard Monk, a former senior British policeman who ran the UN police operation in Bosnia until 1999, said: “There were truly dreadful things going on by UN police officers from a number of countries. I found it incredible that I had to set up an internal affairs department to investigate complaints that officers were having sex with minors and prostitutes.
‘The British officers were on the whole extremely good and very professional, setting a great example. But there were policemen from other countries who should not have been in uniform.’
The tribunal was told that a senior UN official, Dennis Laducer, was caught in one of the most notorious brothels. Mr Laducer, Deputy Commissioner of the International Police Task Force, was investigated by UN human rights officers and is no longer with the mission.
The ruling yesterday will cause further embarrassment to the UN over the behaviour of its peacekeepers. In March investigators disclosed that British aid workers and the UN contingent in Sierra Leone were demanding sex from teenage refugees in exchange for food and money. The UN’s refugee agency, which carried out the inquiry, told of ‘a shameful catalogue of sexual abuse’.
Ms Bolkovac, a mother of three who now lives in The Netherlands, said that she was elated by the tribunal’s ruling. “Now I hope to gain more international exposure for this problem,” she said.
She was posted to Sarajevo in 1999 to investigate the traffic in young women from Eastern Europe. When I started collecting evidence from the victims of sex-trafficking, it was clear that a number of UN officers were involved from several countries, including quite a few from Britain, she said. I was shocked, appalled and disgusted. They were supposed to be over there to help, but they were committing crimes themselves. But when I told the supervisors they didnt want to know. Two Britons, a UN peacekeeper and a policeman, have been sent home after allegations involving the sex trade. Both are being investigated.
Ms Bolkovac said that she witnessed frightened young women given exotic dance costumes by club owners, who told them they had to perform sex acts on customers, including UN personnel, to pay for the outfits.
The women who refused were locked in rooms and food and outside contact was withheld for days or weeks. After this time they were told to dance naked on table tops and sit with clients, recommending the person buy a bottle of champagne for DM200, which includes a room and escort.
If the women still refuse to perform sex acts with the customers, they are beaten and raped in the rooms by the bar owners and their associates. They are told if they go to the police they will be arrested for prostitution and being an illegal immigrant.
Within days of reporting her findings in October 2000 she was demoted and six months later was sacked. She claimed that DynCorp wanted her removed because her work was threatening its “lucrative contract” to supply officers to the UN mission. DynCorp said that she was dismissed for gross misconduct. During the hearing DynCorp admitted that it had dismissed three officers for using prostitutes. Since 1998, eight DynCorp employees have been sent home from Bosnia; none has been prosecuted.
UN ‘ignored’ abuse at Kosovo mental homes
London Guardian 08/08/02: Oliver Burkeman
Original Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Kosovo/Story/0,2763,770954,00.html
Patients at United Nations mental institutions in Kosovo have been raped and physically attacked under the eyes of UN staff, held in “filthy and degrading” conditions, and threatened with punishment if they report the abuses, according to a damning investigation published in New York yesterday.
In one case, a woman patient was raped after UN employees locked her in a room with a male patient because they wanted to “calm her down”, while employees who observed another rape in a hallway said they did not intervene because the victim “must have asked for it”, according to the independent campaigning group Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI), which produced the report.
“This is a pervasive pattern of serious abuses. The rule of law simply does not apply within these psychiatric facilities,” Dr Eric Rosenthal, MDRI’s founder, said yesterday. “We found extreme, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention and the physical and sexual assault of women, and we received a blanket denial from the authorities.”
Dr Robert Okin, chief psychiatrist at San Francisco’s biggest hospital and one of the report’s authors, said the UN had “disregarded its own standards for the protection and treatment of the mentally disabled and turned a blind eye to the evidence” at Kosovo’s two mental institutions – the Shtime home, which houses 285 patients 19 miles south of Pristina, and the Pristina elderly home – and the Pristina University hospital.
In the course of the two-year study, investigators at Shtime reported finding patients sleeping on concrete floors amid piles of human excrement, or in soiled sheets, and spending their days in apathy, sometimes without clothing, and often with nothing to do. They were given out-of-date psychotropic drugs with no monitoring by experts, because there is no psychiatrist on staff.
In further reports of sexual assault, male patients were allowed to roam the women’s wards at night making what one Red Cross worker called “voluntary or involuntary girlfriends”.
Kosovo’s director of psychiatric institutions told MDRI he did not have the money available to fit a secure door to protect the women’s wards, even though funds were available for refurbishment elsewhere in the facility, the group said.
An official at the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (Unmik), which holds overarching responsibility for the government of the former Yugoslav province, admitted the report was “not generally inaccurate”.
The campaigners condemned the UN for continuing to fund refurbishment of the institutions instead of integrating the patients into community care programmes, but the official said money was not available for such initiatives. In addition, the patients were mostly ethnic Serbs, while the surrounding community was mostly ethnic Albanian, and the patients might be “abused or killed” if released.
“This is not in any way to excuse the bad circumstances in the institutions, but it’s not like New York or California.” But the official agreed that many ethnic Albanian staff had “not been trained and probably [were] not very sympathetic” to the patients.
Another UN official said the organisation intended to “explore and examine” individual allegations, but money might prevent it. “The question is, do we have the resources that are sufficient to follow the recommendations in the report?” the official said.
Later, in a statement, Unmik said: “We are in the process of developing special programmes to alert nurses and staff to the issue,” adding that “children have been removed from the institution at Shtime and are no longer vulnerable”. But “to build up a structure and mechanisms to deal with this phenomenon at the local level… takes time”.
Dr Rosenthal said that patients had been warned by staff to keep quiet. “If you say anything bad about the staff, God will kill you,” a nurse was reported as telling a patient in front of an MDRI investigator at Pristina University hospital.
Two former patients there, along with a physician working for another organisation, were also threatened by a staff member to prevent them revealing that the staff member had had sexual relationships with the two patients, the report said.
Furthermore, “when women have been diagnosed as mentally ill, they are no longer credible as witnesses to the abuse”, said Laura Prescott, one of the report’s authors and president of Sister Witness International, a US organisation founded by formerly institutionalised women.
Dr Okin said UN bureaucracy prevented the organisation from hiring a foreign psychiatrist. There were no psychiatrists at Shtime because “the UN is strangled by its own version of a civil service bureaucracy: its pay classification system is such that it won’t allow itself to pay for a psychiatrist”, he said.
The report, funded by the Open Society Institute with money from financier George Soros, was endorsed by the most respected human rights organisation in the US yesterday. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, called it “profoundly important… the horrors it describes are undeniable”.
U.N. adds new cases of sex abuse
Washington Times 10/14/02: John Zarocostas
Original Link: http://www.washtimes.com/world/20021014-85616521.htm
The United Nations’ investigating arm has cleared several U.N. workers of charges of sexual abuse against West African refugee children but has substantiated 10 new cases against aid workers, officials said.
The final report, already presented to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, is expected to be released “in the coming days, or weeks,” said a senior U.N. official, who asked not to be identified.
One of the 10 new cases involved a volunteer working for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the preeminent world refugee agency, while the other nine cases involved personnel from nongovernmental agencies.
The probe was ordered a day after the UNHCR and a major children’s charity reported accusations in February of extensive sexual exploitation of refugee children in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone by local employees of more than 40 private aid organizations and U.N. agencies.
At the time, Mr. Annan and UNHCR chief Ruud Lubbers said they were shocked and distressed by the reports. Mr. Annan called for a full investigation and stressed the policy of zero tolerance for such acts.
While no complaint against any U.N. staff member was substantiated in the investigation by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the OIOS probe has been criticized by senior U.N. and Western diplomats as too limited in scope.
“They narrowed down [the terms] of the investigation,” said a senior U.N. official, who spoke on the condition he not be identified.
Mary Kallamur of the Geneva-based Humanitarian Accountability Project said her main concern was that the terms of reference of the OIOS investigation “have not been made public.”
Senior U.N. and Western diplomats familiar with the OIOS investigation said staff of the World Food Program and U.N. peacekeepers in West Africa, or UNAMSIL, were not part of the investigation. Both agencies had been listed in the original joint report by UNHCR and Save the Children UK, which has not been fully released.
That report was compiled by a three-member team, which included a well-regarded Zambian expert on trauma and sexual violence with vast experience in conflict zones.
The OIOS team sought comments from the World Food program and UNAMSIL, as well as other agencies, and included them in the report.
In the meantime, pressure has been renewed on UNHCR and the global humanitarian community to improve their track record in shielding refugee children from sexual exploitation.
“UNHCR and all humanitarian organizations must take adequate measures to prevent all sexual exploitation by their personnel everywhere and hold all perpetrators of such abuses duly accountable. We expect UNHCR to be adamant in its practice of management accountability,” Kristin Ormen Johnsen, Norway’s state secretary for development, told a UNHCR executive session.
Similarly Johan Molander, Sweden’s ambassador and chairman of the UNHCR executive committee, said sexual exploitation of refugee children and women by humanitarian workers “is by no means a West Africa problem alone.”
Mr. Molander said only by recognizing that the problem is global can the goal of zero tolerance be achieved.
Mr. Lubbers told delegates in Geneva last week that his agency has taken a series of remedial steps to strengthen the protection of refugee women and children against abuse.
Mr. Lubbers, a former prime minister of the Netherlands, also downplayed the findings of the February report of widespread exploitation, which his agency commissioned.
He acknowledged that the issue of sexual exploitation was “very real” but said the original report contained many generalizations that “have unfairly tarnished the reputation and credibility of our staff.”
Portugal’s elite linked to paedophile ring
London Guardian 11/27/02: Giles Tremlett
Original Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,848412,00.html
A scandal over a paedophile ring run from a state orphanage gripped Portugal yesterday as it threatened to engulf diplomats, media personalities and senior politicians.
Photographs of unnamed senior government officials with young boys from Lisbon’s Casa Pia orphanage were among the evidence reportedly available to police after they arrested a former orphanage employee called Carlos Silvino.
A number of former residents, and the mother of one boy who is still there, have denounced sexual attacks on children at what is known as Lisbon’s most famous orphanage.
Mr Silvino, it was claimed, abused children himself and procured boys for a powerful group of clients.
He has publicly denied the allegations and was expected to repeat that denial at a closed-door bail hearing in Lisbon yesterday.
What has most shocked the Portuguese have been the revelations that systematic sexual abuse of children at the home had allegedly been going on for more than 20 years and had been known to police and other authorities for most of that time.
A former president, General Ramalho Eanes, was allegedly among those who knew about abuse at the home but failed to stop it.
The identity of the mysterious group of powerful paedophiles remained a secret yesterday, with only one person prepared to admit she knew at least some of the names.
Former secretary of state for families, Teresa Costa Macedo, said she had sent a dossier containing photographs and testimonies from children to the police 20 years ago but they had done nothing about it, while she was subjected to a campaign of threats.
“He [Silvino] was just one element in a huge paedophile network that involved important people in our country,” Mrs Costa Macedo explained in a newspaper interview. “It wasn’t just him. He was a procurer of children for well-known people who range from diplomats and politicians to people linked to the media.”
The material sent to the police, which yesterday appeared to have been lost, was damning proof of the activities of the paedophile ring, Mrs Costa Macedo said.
“There are photographs, an account of the methods used to spirit children out of the orphanage and testimonies of a number of children,” she explained.
Mrs Costa Macedo said that many of the photographs were found at the house of a Portuguese diplomat in the town of Estoril, 20 miles from Lisbon. Four children who had gone missing from the orphanage were discovered at the house, where they had spent several days allegedly under lock and key.
President Eanes was introduced to five boys who told him of the abuse occurring at the orphanage in 1980 but failed to act on it, according to Mrs Costa Macedo.
There was no suggestion that General Eanes, a popular and respected figure who did not comment on the allegations yesterday, was involved in the paedophile ring.
Portuguese police insisted yesterday they had no record of the documents sent to them by Mrs Costa Macedo.
She said she had been the target of a campaign of intimidation to make her stop investigating the case.
“I received anonymous threats, by phone and post. They said they would kill me, flay me and a lot of other things,” she said.
That campaign had started again yesterday, she said, with threatening phone calls made to her home.
Portugal has increasingly been under the scrutiny of anti-paedophile groups who have denounced its lax laws and uninterested courts for creating a paedophiles’ paradise in Europe.
Belgian and Dutch paedophile groups are reported to have operated in Portugal, with foreigners travelling to the island of Madeira to seek out young children.
Investigators from the Swiss-based Innocence in Danger group, which claims children regularly disappear from the poorer streets of Portuguese towns and cities, say they too have been harassed and threatened.
Mr Silvino claimed his accusers were making up their allegations. “It is all lies,” he said.
The orphanage’s director and deputy director were sacked on Monday as the government pledged to clear up the case as soon as possible.
UN struggles to explain away presence of weapons inspector with S&M fetish
London independent 11/29/02: Kim Sengupta
Original Link: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=356753
The United Nations inspection mission in Iraq has been fully prepared for controversy over chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Instead, the first crisis it faces concerns sado-masochism, pansexuality and leather fetishes. Senior officials were trying to explain yesterday how such a crucial mission came to include an American former Secret Service officer who has no specialised degree in any of the relevant sciences, but considerable expertise in unusual sexual practices.
Harvey John “Jack” McGeorge was nominated for the mission by the United States government. The revelation of his personal details has also led to the disclosure that no background checks have been made on any of the monitors.
Mr McGeorge, who once served in the US Marines, is waiting in New York to join the Unmovic (UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission) in Baghdad.
He runs a business offering seminars on “weaponisation of chemical and biological agents” at $595 a session, and advertises his services as a “certified United Nations inspector”. An internet search has also revealed that Mr McGeorge offers training seminars of a different kind involving “various acts conducted with knives and ropes”. This relates to his role as co-founder of Black Rose, a “pansexual S&M group” based in Washington, and also as a founder of Leather Leadership Conference IN, which “produces training sessions for current and potential leaders of the sadomasochistic/ leather/fetish community”. Mr McGeorge said a State Department official invited him to apply for a job with the UN team, and neither the Americans nor the United Nations asked about his S&M background. He was interviewed by Hans Blix, the chief inspector, and trained with Unmovic in February 2001.
He told The Washington Post: “I have been very upfront with people in the past about what I do, and it has never prevented me from getting a job or doing a service. I am who I am. I am not ashamed of who I am not one bit.” He added that he was now considering resigning his UN post.
Iraqi officials, who have always claimed that American members of the team may not be what they seem, were still digesting the news.
A Foreign Ministry official said: “It is very disturbing that the Americans have put forward someone like this. Apart from his strange sexual life, he does not have the academic qualification for these complex issues. And he is also a former member of their Secret Service. How many other of these types are they getting into the UN mission?”
A UN official said in Baghdad: “It is very difficult. We are hoping the man will now resign, and we can draw a veil over this.” Ewen Buchanan, an Unmovic spokesman, said: “As the UN, with people applying from many countries, we do not have the capacity to carry out background checks. I believe Mr McGeorge is technically very competent. He knows his subject, which is weapons.”
A State Department official confirmed that Mr McGeorge was recommended to Unmovic, and that no background checks were made.
The Bush administration has been accused of undermining the Iraq mission, and US officials have claimed that Mr Blix had chosen an inexperienced team, leaving out inspectors with previous experience of working in Iraq who were deemed to be too aggressive in pursuing their task. There have also been complaints from Washington that not enough American and British personnel were chosen for the teams.
American firm in Bosnia sex trade row poised to win MoD contract
London Guardian 11/29/02: Jamie Wilson and Kevin Maguire
Original Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/military/story/0,11816,850107,00.html
The American defence contractor forced to pay compensation to a UN police officer unfairly dismissed for reporting colleagues involved in the Bosnian sex trade is poised to be awarded its first contract by the British government, the Guardian has learned.
DynCorp, which was ordered to pay the sacked UN investigator Kathryn Bolkovac $110,000 by an employment tribunal on Tuesday, is part of a consortium that is set to be awarded preferred bidder status by the Ministry of Defence to supply support services for military firing ranges.
The decision, expected to be announced in the next few weeks by Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, was yesterday condemned by MPs and union leaders.
Former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle said: “It is simply unacceptable that a company like DynCorp, which has been so cavalier towards Ms Bolkovac, should be given a contract by the MoD.”
Ms Bolkovac was dismissed after revealing that UN peacekeepers went to nightclubs where girls as young as 15 were forced to dance naked and have sex with customers, and that UN personnel and international aid workers were linked to prostitution rings in the Balkans. The employment tribunal accepted that Ms Bolkovac, an American who was employed by DynCorp and contracted to the UN, had been dismissed for whistleblowing. She said the company wanted her removed because her work was threatening its “lucrative contract” to supply officers to the mission.
The MoD firing range contract, worth more than $60m, is expected to be awarded to a consortium called LandMarc Support Services, a partnership between DynCorp and a British contractor, Interserve.
They are bidding to provide the non-military support services for the armed services’ ranges, including training area and range operations, catering and estate management. It will result in more than 1,000 employees being transferred from the MoD to the private sector.
Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of the trade union Amicus, voiced concern that DynCorp should be involved in one of the government’s public-private partnerships.
“The root of the trade unions’ opposition to PPPs is concern that public servants will be transferred into the hands of bad employers. The government is never going to get wholehearted support to hand over public services to private companies if they have records like this.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence last night said no decision had been taken.
Ms Bolkovac is not the only employee who claims to have been unfairly dismissed by DynCorp over the sex trade scandal. Hours after she won her case lawyers for the company made an undisclosed financial settlement in a lawsuit in Texas with a former employee, Ben Johnston, who also exposed the affair.
Mr Johnston’s case included allegations of men having sex with girls as young as 12. His claims also concerned a nightclub in Bosnia frequented by DynCorp employees, where young women were sold “hourly, daily or permanently”.
Government officials in sex trafficking ring arrested
Horrifying testimony of woman sex-slave traded for a Mercedes shakes political establishment of Yugoslav republic
London Independent 12/06/02: Vesna Peric Zimonjic
Original Link: http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/story.jsp?story=358924
When police in the tiny republic of Montenegro swooped on a suspected pimp accused of running a major sex trafficking operation, they ran into an embarrassing problem.
The man they were about to put behind bars was none other than the country’s deputy state prosecutor.
Montenegro has been shaken hard by the burgeoning scandal, which allegedly involved leading members of the judiciary, police and political officials. Zoran Piperovic, the republic’s deputy prosecutor, was arrested this week, and six other officials have been detained. They are accused of forcing women, mostly from Moldavia, Ukraine and Romania, into prostitution.
The arrests are only a small part of the scandal, according to sources in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica. It is an open secret in the Balkans that people-trafficking rings run through Montenegro to Bosnia and Kosovo, with profits from the dirty trade reaching millions of euros.
The sex-slave routes lead to Italy and Britain, where at least 1,400 women, mainly from eastern Europe, are tricked into prostitution each year. The trade is highly lucrative for the men who “own” them; in London, women can bring in about $100,000 a year for their pimps.
But in Montenegro, the junior partner of Serbia in the Yugoslav federation, the revelations are even more shocking because of the prominence of the alleged pimps and their victims’ clients.
One of the alleged clients, Mr Piperovic, 46, was known for his lavish lifestyle, luxury jeeps and homes that could not have come from his modest civil servant salary, the investigators say. Mr Piperovic and his friends were singled out in the allegations made by a 28-year-old Moldavian national, who found shelter in Podgorica’s Safe House for Women two weeks ago.
The shelter is the first non-governmental organisation in Montenegro to deal with the female victims of people trafficking. Ljiljana Raicevic, the head of the shelter, recorded the woman’s testimony and gave it to the police.
The woman, identified only by her initials “S C”, repeated her story of sex slavery to the investigative judge, Ana Vukovic, in Podgorica two days ago. The session with the magistrate lasted for six hours, the sources say. S C described how she came to Montenegro four years ago after being promised a well-paid job. Instead, she ended up deprived of her passport and becoming a sex slave. She was sold several times by the “bosses” who owned her and on one occasion was traded for a Mercedes car.
As a sex slave, she entertained prominent members of the judiciary, police and political officials. In perfect Serbian, which she learned over the years, the Moldavian woman gave the names of the 20 most frequent “customers”.
She alleged that besides Mr Piperovic and his friends, these included the State Prosecutor of Montenegro, Bozidar Vukcevic. Mr Vukcevic denies the allegations, as well as the rumours that he was willing to talk about the affair in exchange for not being arrested.
S C gave details of houses, cafes and nightclubs where she “turned tricks” and, with colleagues, was beaten and sexually abused. She tried to run away several times and even to commit suicide, but eventually fled the hospital and ended up in the shelter.
Among her clients were police officials who were in charge of deporting foreign nationals caught in prostitution, but also some of the lawyers of the recently arrested officials.
“S C is a highly intelligent and educated person, a former athlete,” Ms Raicevic said. “We had to go public after hearing her story, which is similar to so many others.” So far, 48 women have found shelter in the safe house.
“We practically dared the government, the police and the judiciary to say what they know about what had been heard through the grapevine for years,” Ms Raicevic said.
Analysts say that human trafficking has replaced the once profitable practice of cigarette smuggling in Montenegro. Organised crime was forced to turn to other business in the changed political climate in the area after the fall of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic two years ago, which led to laws and regulations legalising the tobacco trade.
‘Our battle against this evil must be effective’
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic
The safe House for Women in Podgorica is based in an ordinary and modest two-floor family building. But there are precious few warm family stories to be heard here.
Any warmth and comfort comes from Ljiljana Raicevic and a group of volunteers who run the only shelter for human trafficking and sex-slavery victims in Montenegro. “I’m doing this because many women have become victims of human trafficking and sex slavery,” Ms Raicevic said. “I hope the battle against this evil can be effective.”
Ms Raicevic, 55, who has three children and two grandchildren, had the idea of helping women while working at the healthcare centre in the Montenegrin capital. “At first, it was violence against women in general that attracted my attention,” Ms Raicevic says. “Then, one thing led to another.”
Montenegro, the sister republic of Serbia in the rump Yugoslav Federation, is home to a community that cherishes conservative values. Women are largely regarded as second-rate citizens and family violence is an unspoken shame.
Ms Raicevic originally started a shelter for battered women but with the increase in human-trafficking operations created the “safe house”. The Safe House for Women was registered as a non-profit organisation in 1999. It has so far housed 48 women who were tricked into prostitution.
UN troops accused of ‘systematic’ rape in Sierra Leone
London Telegraph 01/17/03: Tim Butcher
Original Link: http://www.news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/01/17/wleon17.xml
Rebels, government troops and United Nations peacekeepers were all guilty of raping women on a systematic scale throughout Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war, a leading international human rights group reported yesterday.
The mutilation of civilians was a trademark feature of the 10-year civil war, but Human Rights Watch said sexual abuse was much more common in the unstable West African nation.
“The war in Sierra Leone became infamous for the amputation of hands and arms” Peter Takirambudde, the head of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, said. “Rape may not be visible in the same way, but it is every bit as devastating.”
The 75-page report, We’ll Kill You If You Cry, makes harrowing reading, with accounts of children being forced to rape grandmothers, fathers made to watch daughters being raped and other instances of serious sexual assault.
After surveying victims from all areas of Sierra Leone it concluded that sexual crimes were used to try to destroy family links, making soldiers less reluctant to take part in military operations.
It said most of the crimes were committed by rebels from the Revolutionary United Front and smaller splinter groups.
But it found evidence of sexual atrocities being committed by troops from the regional intervention force, Ecomog, and the UN peacekeeping mission.
Women were used by all sides as chattels, kidnapped from their homes often in rural areas and forced to act as sex slaves for the troops as well as domestic maids responsible for cooking and household chores.
“To date there has been no accountability for the thousands of crimes of sexual violence or other appalling human rights abuses committed during the war in Sierra Leone,” the report said.
A UN war crimes tribunal set up to investigate such allegations has been slow to start work and not many in Sierra Leone hold out much hope that it will bring more than a few perpetrators to justice.
In another damning assessment of the African crisis, a UN report on the fighting in the north east of the Congo has found evidence of cannibalism, torture and mutilation, with indigenous pygmies suffering badly.
French ‘orgy’ storm grows
BBC June 2 2003
Veteran French politician Dominique Baudis has challenged judges to investigate allegations that he was involved in sado-masochistic orgies organised by a convicted serial killer.
Mr Baudis, who heads France’s media watchdog the CSA, strongly denies the accusations and says he is facing a political vendetta.
His challenge follows reports that the convicted killer, Patrice Alegre, has accused Mr Baudis of being involved in the orgies.
Two prostitutes have already made the same allegation.
Alegre, who appeared before magistrates at the weekend, also confessed to the murder of two more people – a female prostitute and a transvestite – in addition to the five he is known to have killed.
He said he carried out the murders under instructions from public figures, who feared the transvestite would release pictures taken with a hidden camera and that the prostitute “would not keep her mouth shut”.
The orgies are alleged to have taken place in Toulouse, when Mr Baudis was mayor of the city.
One city official, chief prosecutor Jean Volff, resigned over the scandal last week.
Mr Volff said he had been named in the prostitutes’ testimony to police but described their story as “totally implausible”.
Mr Baudis, an influential figure in the governing centre-right party, UMP, has led a vocal campaign to ban hardcore pornography from television over the last year.
The former mayor says he believes that elements of the pornography industry may be spreading the orgy stories in order to get revenge on him for the campaign.
He has asked to be put under investigation so that his lawyer can gain access to the evidence against him.
“It is unacceptable that a man’s honour can be tainted by the words of a murderer serving a life sentence and of two prostitutes,” Mr Baudis’ lawyer, Francis Szpiner, told Liberation newspaper.
Asked why his client had taken the unusual step of asking to be placed under judicial investigation, Mr Szpiner said it was “the only way to fight on equal terms against the purveyors of slander”.
Being placed under formal investigation is a step that falls short of criminal charges but implies a prima facie case.
Alegre, for his part, said he wanted the truth to be told.
“I cannot accept that the truth will be suppressed because the people involved are people in power,” he wrote in a letter sent secretly from prison and published in Monday’s French press.
“[The two prostitutes] are telling the truth when they say they went with me to sado-masochistic parties… and that certain members of the Toulouse bourgeoisie were there, and everyone was going for the cocaine,” Alegre wrote.
Alegre was jailed for life in 2002 for six rapes and five murders.
He is also under investigation in connection with a criminal network in Toulouse said to have involved minors and cocaine.
Portugal reeling over child sex abuse scandal
London Independent June 16 2003
The opposition socialists, until now ahead of Portugal’s ruling conservative Popular Social Democrats in opinion polls, are in shock after learning some of their senior MPs may be involved in scandal over sex abuse of boys in a state orphanage.
The senior socialist MP Paulo Pedroso, number two in the party and a former labour minister, was taken from parliament by police and held for investigation three weeks ago on 15 counts of suspected child-sex abuse. Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, the party leader, who is not accused of involvement, testified in court last week, and the former prime minister Antonio Guterres, who is also not under suspicion, visited him in jail to show support.
The abuse accusations centre on Casa Pia, an austere building in a leafy Lisbon neighbourhood, home to children without families, or with parents too poor to care for them. Claims that boys suffered decades of sexual abuse while the authorities did nothing has thrown Portugal into deep shock.
“This is a black moment for us,” the veteran commentator Mario Mesquita, a columnist for Publico newspaper, says. “It marks the beginning of a long crisis that’s poisoning political life and undermining confidence in our leaders. People were at first incredulous, and are now morbidly pessimistic. This drama shows our dark side, and it’s all played out on television, which whips up the frenzy.”
Antonio Mega Ferreira, editor of Visao news magazine, says: “I cannot recall, during 25 years of democracy, experiencing such a turbulent, fragile, demoralising, anxious time as we’re going through now.”
A former home employee, Carlos Silvino, known as Bibi, was detained last autumn accused of abusing children in his care and supplying them for sex to socialites. Among those held on suspicion of abuse are Casa Pia’s former director, its doctor, Portugal’s favourite television host, a top comedian and a senior diplomat.
Proceedings are still in the investigative stage, with seven suspects detained. More detentions are expected before the trial in September. Adolescents have claimed on television they were offered sweets, ice creams and visits to football matches, then were raped in lavatories or corridors, and recruited for sex parties with powerful “friends”. Others, now adult, have told of chilling experiences long suppressed.
Casa Pia came under scrutiny 20 years ago when a young inmate died. He apparently threw himself under a train after running from a car. Officials found the home’s doors open all night and youngsters in a cruising area for male prostitutes.
Four children aged between eight and 12, missing for a fortnight, were found in a luxury flat in nearby Cascais owned by a diplomat. They said Mr Silvino had taken them there.
Teresa Costa Macedo, who was the Secretary of State for Family Affairs at the time, ordered a legal investigation that dragged on until it was finally shelved. Mr Silvino was expelled from Casa Pia, then reinstated with back pay in the Nineties.
Rosa Ruela, of Visao, says: “Orphans were considered worthless in Portuguese society then. Child sex abuse was a minor offence, comparable to joyriding. The children were frightened and alone, an easy target. No one took notice of what they said.”
Only in the Nineties did Portugal make sex with under-14s a crime punishable by jail; for minors between 14 and 16 the penalty remains a fine. Last September, the mother of an inmate accused Mr Silvino of sexually abusing her son. He was detained in November but insists he is innocent. Last week he indicated he might turn state witness and implicate influential “friends”.
In February, counsellors who questioned more than 600 children in Casa Pia found 128 had been abused.
Pedro Strecht, a child psychologist, said “Many wouldn’t speak, for fear or shame. We are trained to recognise if children are exaggerating or inventing stories. The testimonies we have heard demonstrate the magnitude of the tragedy.”