By Joe Colas
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) -- Haiti's minister for women's affairs said on Wednesday lawyers at her office were actively working on the case of an 18-year-old woman allegedly raped over the past weekend by a Sri Lankan UN soldier in the Caribbean country, to ensure that proper punishment is applied to deter other potential rapists.
Yanick Mezile, Haitian Ministry of Women's Affairs
Marie Yanick Mezile said her office will do all in its power to make sure that sanctions are applied against the incriminated UN soldier, while expressing disappointment regarding several other rape cases involving UN troops that went unpunished.
"We are ready to go as far as possible to make sure the perpetrator of such an awful crime is punished," Mezile told HCNN on Wednesday.
Mezile, a long-time women's rights activist turned minister, said a team at her office has collected information about a case of sexual violence perpetrated on Saturday by a UN soldier from Sri Lanka against an 18-year-old woman near the Southern town of Leogane.
"Our team is deepening the investigation on the ground to document the case and to assist the victim and her family," Mezile said.
According to sources close to the investigation, the 18-year-old woman was pulled over on Saturday by a UN soldier of the Sri Lankan contingent, which is part of the UN peacekeeping mission, deployed to Haiti in 2004 to stabilize the country, following the departure for exile in February the same year of then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The UN mission also announced that an inquiry into the alleged rape case was underway.
UN soldiers have been blamed for a series of rapes in the country since their deployment, but many complain that UN authorities and relevant member countries have failed to take appropriate measures to punish soldiers responsible for sexual violence against Haitian girls and boys.