Quebec police officers engaged in sexual misconduct in Haiti
2 Montreal police officers fathered children while working as peacekeepers
Several Quebec police officers engaged in sexual misconduct while working as UN peacekeepers in Haiti, including at least two who had children with Haitian women during the course of their mission, Radio-Canada has learned.
"There's a code of silence. The cases that are not reported are kept secret. People come back and continue their activities," said a former police officer with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
According to CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada, at least two Montreal police officers fathered children while working with MINUSTAH.
One of them had a child with his Haitian housekeeper while on a mission in 2013, contrary to UN rules of engagement, which strictly prohibit having sex with residents while deployed.
The man, who was in a relationship in Canada, was denounced by colleagues upon his return. He was suspended by Montreal police for nine days. He has since retired from the force and now helps the mother of his child in Haiti.
The case and subsequent suspension reverberated all the way to UN headquarters in New York, which recently released its annual report on allegations of exploitation and sexual abuse in the United Nations system.
'Trivializing the life of a child'
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power also complained at a meeting of the UN Security Council that the officer had only received a nine-day suspension for his actions in Haiti.
She said the disciplinary action is clearly insufficient.
We have work to do, a lot of work to do to preserve the credibility of our mission, the credibility of our actions.- El Ghassim Wane, UN peacekeeping operations
It's a view shared by Rosy Augustus of the National Human Rights Network in Haiti.
"Nine days is trivializing the life of a child and it is trivializing the regulation that there should be no such relationship between MINUSTAH and Haitian workers," she said.
The relationship remained secret until the woman decided to press charges against the officer, who had stopped providing child support.
After investigation, the man was suspended for five days. Reportedly, he still refused to help the mother of his child.
Montreal police confirmed Wednesday that there were two cases of sexual misconduct. Police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière said the force denounces the officers' behaviour.
Since 2010, police deployed in UN peacekeeping missions around the world have fathered some 20 children – 15 of them in Haiti.
In so doing, UN police have plunged more Haitian women into poverty, said Marie-Yolaine Gilles, who also works with the National Human Rights Network.
"Leaving a fatherless child, I believe it is creating more problems," she said.
Report also mentions Sûreté du Québec
The latest UN report also included details about an officer with the Sûreté du Québec, the provincial police force, who engaged in sexual misconduct.
The officer was repatriated to the country last year for having sex with Haitian women while working as a peacekeeper. One of the women complained.
SQ police Lt. Guy Lapointe said the force expects "exemplary behaviour" from its officers.
"There are rules, specific police rules, that are deployed on such missions," he said.
In 2013, Radio-Canada reported that another SQ officer had left Haiti after being involved in sexual misconduct. Once home, he resigned in order to avoid appearing before the force's disciplinary committee.
The UN acknowledges more needs to be done to address the issue of sexual misconduct.
"We have work to do, a lot of work to do to preserve the credibility of our mission, the credibility of our actions," said El Ghassim Wane, the assistant secretary general for UN peacekeeping operations.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs said it will work with the UN to crack down on the problem, adding that it takes all allegations of misconduct seriously.
With files from Benjamin Shingler