UN Prostitution Scandal
The UN mission in Bosnia comes under fire for allegedly trying to cover
a prostitution scandal.
By Tanya L. Domi (BCR No. 264, 20-Jul-01)
The United Nations mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina may face an
investigation following charges that it sought to cover up
media reports implicating its officials in selling women into prostitution.
UN headquarters in Sarajevo has denied the claims but acknowledged
that several members of its staff have been sacked
for misconduct. Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights, has demanded an investigation and
diplomatic sources have told IWPR that she may get one.
The charges were first aired by Kathy Balkovac, an American police
officer and a former UN human rights investigator.
She made them in a memo last November to Jacques Paul Klein, head of
the UN in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Vincent
Coeurderoy, the UN''s Police Commissioner in Bosnia,
Balkovac alleged that extensive trafficking of women into prostitution
been carried out by UN personnel, NATO troops
and other international officials in Bosnia, along with the local police.
Balkovac was diagnosed as ''stressed and burned
out'' by the IPTF Deputy Commissioner Mike Stiers and her contract with
the UN was subsequently terminated by
DynCorps, the US State Department''s personnel subcontractor for the
In an official statement, the office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights in Sarajevo demanded the investigation to
be carried out "in an open and transparent manner and that the reports
should be made public." It insisted that
punishment for anyone found guilty should be "commensurate with the
gravity of the offences."
International news agencies picked up on the story during a visit Klein
made to the UN Security council in New York on
June 14-15. Western diplomats said that during his presentation in New
York, Klein was "peppered" with questions about
charges that women had been forced into prostitution by UN officials.
The Balkovac memo in November was filed at a time when UN monitors
and local police were involved in a series of
controversial raids on brothels in Prijedor. Later it was alleged that these
UN officials had collaborated with Prijedor police
in "buying" the women and having sex with some of them. Several of the
victims were said to be under aged girls.
In an e-mail dated October 2000, which was broadly circulated among her UN
colleagues, Balkovac outlined the legal
definitions of "prostitution, pimping and trafficking." She reported that
UN had received accounts of women being
tortured, raped and kidnapped into sexual enslavement in Bosnia.
Balkovac was subsequently demoted to a non-human rights position
reassigned. But she managed to urge senior UN
officials to follow up her conclusion that a number of reported
activities deserved further police investigation. Her
contract was terminated in April 2001 on grounds that she had falsified
Coz, dobry biznes. Co na to polskie feministki i obroncy praw czlowieka?