Tuesday, November 01, 2005

UN official in Kosovo sentenced for sexual abuse


(Prishtina, DTT-NET.COM)-A former official of UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was sentenced on Monday to three years in prison for sexual abuse of a minor.

Pakistani national, Rashidoon Khan - a former official for United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in UN administrated province of Kosovo - was arrested in January. He was found guilty of abuse of a minor under the age of 16.

By the end of August three UN police officers and four foreigners have been arrested for involvement in human trafficking in the UN administered province of Kosovo, but were released by an international judge because of lack of evidence.

Since the UN begun ruling Kosovo after the war ended in June 1999 civilian international officials and soldiers of international NATO-led peacekeeping force (KFOR) have been involved in several cases of sexual abuse and human trafficking.

According to the Amnesty International (AI) the presence of international peacekeepers in Kosovo has been fuelling the sexual exploitation of women and encouraging trafficking. The human rights group claims that UN and NATO troops in the region are using the trafficked women and girls for sex, and that some have been involved in trafficking itself.

Girls as young as 11 from Eastern European countries are being sold into sex slavery, according to Amnesty International.

The group’s 2004 yearly report - based on interviews with women and girls who have been trafficked from countries such as Moldova, Bulgaria, and Ukraine to service Kosovo’s sex industry - says that sex victims are moved illegally across borders and sold in trading houses.

The report includes harrowing testimonies of abduction, deprivation, and torture, including beatings and rape.

The report also condemns the role of the international peacekeepers in furthering the problem, saying that the number of places in Kosovo where trafficked women and girls may be exploited, such as nightclubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, and cafes, has increased from 18 at the time of the arrival of the peacekeepers in 1999 to more than 200 in 2003.
According to the report, international personnel make up about 20 per cent of sex trafficking customers, though its members comprise only 2 per cent of Kosovo’s population.

Other countries in South-Eastern Europe have been criticized by international organizations for failing to take effective measures against people trafficking.
A 2004 US State Department report identified Western Balkans countries (Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia) as source or transit countries for trafficking to Western Europe and destination countries for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labour.

A UNICEF report says the main targets are young women and girls between the ages of 15 and 17 who are often sold into sexual slavery, or children under the age of 13, who are trafficked for forced labour or begging.


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