You Have Immunity in the Next Challenge

I’ve always hated immunity, even and especially on reality shows. I mean come on, how will you ever find the next great fashion designer when you give Bert a free pass to be a lazy bum on the first unconventional challenge of the season? Of course he’s just going to grab the dog store fabric options and phone it in. Gah.

But I digress. Real life immunity doesn’t make any sense to me, either. Who could possibly benefit except criminals and psychopaths?

And indeed the criminals and psychopaths are having a hell of a time out there. Here are a few recent stories from Haiti to show you why we should never, ever give people immunity – not for parking violations (I hate those diplomatic limos blocking up traffic in front of the World Bank HQ, mocking me) and certainly not for rape and mass murder:

  • First, we have a recent report out of Haiti about UN peacekeepers allegedly pinning down and sexually assaulting a teenage boy. The incident was caught on video, and the UN is still investigating. The base commander claims it was just “some kind of bullying.” Let’s say it was. Let’s say it wasn’t assault – it was just a bunch of “peacekeepers” standing around a pinned-down, humiliated teenager and laughing hysterically while pretending to assault him. Hmm. Still wrong.
  • Next up, we have reports of exploitation of Haitian women by UN troops, including using their position to impregnate teenage girls and then leave them with little to no child support.
  • And to top it off, here’s a more familiar story – a classic colonial tale: investigations proving that UN oversight (at best) allowed for the widespread cholera epidemic that has killed thousands in Haiti. Hear from French epidemiologist Dr. Renaud Piarroux, who confirmed Haitian’s fears that MINUSTAH (the UN’s mission in Haiti) was connected to the outbreak.

As of right now, the UN has not apologized for, nor compensated victims of, these incidents and many more allegations.

Immunity means that it’s up to the individual sending countries to prosecute lawbreakers. But the distance between the foreign courtrooms and the eyewitnesses and evidence in Haiti – plus the general inconsistency of various sovereign states’ laws – means that many criminals go unpunished.

Some individual countries have apologized and prosecuted wrongdoers, but the UN just keeps mum. If anything MINUSTAH has put down and prevented protests against itself. I don’t really see the reason for this. If troops have immunity, let the people protest. What’s the risk?

But I’d like to note that there’s still some sanity in this world. The Haitian Senate has introduced legislation to limit UN immunity and gradually implement the organization’s withdrawal.

In conclusion, immunity sucks.

For further reading, here are some more reasons the UN occupation in Haiti should end.

4 Responses to “You Have Immunity in the Next Challenge”
  1. Michael says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  2. Mary says:

    I’m really impressed with your grasp of these issues and your courage in tackling them! Keep up the great work and excellent writing!

  3. Darrell says:

    I’m commenting on this article a little late but I want to point out that there are sometimes cases in which an agreement to grant immunity is the only way to achieve the desired result. This is in regard to criminal and some civil court cases not the UN and other international organizations. The UN “peacekeeping” forces are made up of soldiers from member nations and usually reflect the values they have learned. Sometimes the contributing nations are encountering the same or similar problems as the ones in the affected country. Contributing countries will not contribute their troops to these efforts without grants of immunity and so the UN secures that for them,
    I would certainly not contribute one American soldier to UN service without a grant of immunity. Come to think of it I would not contribute one American soldier. It is not a proper mission for combat troops who are trained to a fine edge for the stresses of combat. The mission is bound to end badly. In addition, American military officers take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and to defend the United States from all enemies, not to serve in international armies.

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