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Teenagers 'used for sex by UN in Bosnia'
By Stewart Payne
(Filed: 25/04/2002)

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.

External links  
 
DynCorp
 
UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina
 
DynCorp disgrace [14 Jan '02] - Insight on the News
 
Landmark Sex Crimes in Bosnia - Human Rights Watch
 
British firm accused in UN 'sex scandal', international police in Bosnia face prosecution [Jul '01] - Global Policy Forum
 
Sex trafficking: UN office in Bosnia [May '00] - UN News Service
 
British Employment Law
 
European Court of Human Rights
 
Office of the High Representative, Bosnia
 
European Convention of Human Rights - Hellenic Resources