|The accusation from Haiti against blue helmets
2012.05.24 - 09:40:51 / firstname.lastname@example.org / Translated by: Pedro A. Fanego Sea
Havana, Cuba. - Haitian Johnny Jean ratified the charges of rape he pressed in 2011 against Uruguayan blue helmets, when he made his deposition at a criminal court in Uruguay. Meanwhile, a group of demonstrators took advantage of the situation to demand the withdrawal of UN troops from Haiti.
Jean testified for more than eight hours in a court located in downtown Montevideo, which he left accompanied by his mother, Rose Marie Jean and a representative of the Haitian government. While he offered his testimony before the judge, his counselors assured to the journalists that they had produced actual evidences of sexual aggression.
"What the marines did to this young man was absolutely horrible (...) what I have seen in that video is disgusting. They deny it; how couldn’t they?" “They say it was a joke, they were kidding. That was no game; it was no joke. (...) They were enjoying it."
Jean – who only speaks Creole - was aided by a translator and a Uruguayan pro-bono counselor, convened by the judge to uphold his legal rights. "Since the professionals that accompany him are not authorized to exercise their profession in Uruguay…” Raul Oxandarabat, spokesman of the Supreme Court, told the journalists.
The spokesperson of the Court explained, "The whole case is based on the existence of a very brief audio and video recording of a cellphone. Ii is very brief, fragmentary, of bad quality and therefore, the whole case is based on the Haitian’s testimony (...) describing what happened."
Meanwhile a score of demonstrators holding placards claimed "justice for Johnny" and the withdrawal of UN Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH).
Reportedly, the case shocked Uruguay last September. This country contributes proportionally more soldiers to UN force in Haiti (900) - after the publication in the network of a 45 seconds video that shows a group of at least four soldiers pressing the young man face down against a mattress on the floor, with his hands strapped to his back.
One of the marines was naked and at some point, he bent over the young man’s back, according to the images recorded with a wireless phone. At the end of the video, the soldiers helped the young man get up, roaring with laughter.
When the video was disseminated, Uruguayan President, Jose Mujica, sent a letter of apology to his Haitian counterpart, Michel Martelly, where he pledged to enforce the hardest penalty to the perpetrators of the abuse.
The incident happened in July 2011, at the military base of Port Salut, south of Haiti.
This case distinctly evidences the need of an immediate withdrawal of the blue helmets from the Caribbean island. Rather than militaries, Haiti needs of civilians and international organizations to help in the reconstruction, particularly after the earthquake of 2010. By: Ana Teresa Badia