Home > Censorship, Government, The Politics of War > What the UN Doesn’t Want You to Know.

What the UN Doesn’t Want You to Know.

By   6th February 2012.    Find Full Article Here:-

In 1999, Kathryn Bolkovac went to Bosnia as part of a UN mission. She discovered terrible wrongdoing – and refused to stay silent about it. She tells Nisha Lilia Diu her incredible story, now the subject of a film starring Rachel Weisz.

Kathryn Bolkovac

Photo: DANA LIXENBERG

‘Do you want coffee? Baileys? Coffee and Baileys?’ Kathryn Bolkovac pours a dash of liqueur into a black onyx mug. ‘That’s what I’m having.’

She’s just home from work on this icy Friday evening in a small city near Amsterdam.

She has lived in Holland, with her Dutch husband, ever since her life was transformed by events so extraordinary they have been made into a film, The Whistleblower, starring Rachel Weisz.

Before going on a UN peacekeeping mission to Bosnia 13 years ago , Bolkovac, 51, was a police officer in Nebraska. She specialised in sex crimes, was nicknamed Xena: Warrior Princess, and had a 95 per cent conviction rate.

‘It was actually higher than that,’ she corrects me, settling on an L-shaped chocolate suede sofa. I tell her that in Britain the rape conviction rate is more like 6 per cent. She laughs, amazed.

‘You have to get confessions. That’s the trick – knowing how to interview people.’

But with 10 years on the street and two failed marriages behind her, it was time for a change.

She signed up with DynCorp, the private contractor providing American personnel for the UN mission in Bosnia. The war was only recently ended and the country’s legal infrastructure was in disarray.

Bolkovac thought of ‘all the good, meaningful work I was going to do’, training Bosnian police officers and re-establishing law and order.

The first of several nasty shocks came before she’d even left: among the recruits at DynCorp’s training week in Texas was a man from Mississippi. He’d been to Bosnia before and had had such a good time he was going again.

He told them all how scenic it was, adding, ‘and I know where you can get really nice 12- to 15-year-olds’. Bolkovac was baffled, believing she’d misheard.

In Bosnia, where there were so many dead the Olympic football stadium had been turned into a cemetery, she threw herself into her work.

Soon Madeleine Rees, the head of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, had recruited her to run a pilot project on violence against women.

While there, working in a police station with a hole in the floor for a lavatory, Bolkovac secured Bosnia’s first conviction for domestic violence.

Then one day the body of a skimpily dressed Ukrainian girl came floating down the River Bosna. Soon after, a Moldovan girl was found wandering the river banks.

Bolkovac attempted to interview her but only understood one word, ‘Florida’, the name of a nightclub where she’d often see UN vehicles parked.

When she arrived the club was deserted. She found stacks of American dollars and foreign passports in a safe and, behind a locked door, seven girls. ‘Sheer terror,’ says Bolkovac of the looks on the girls’ faces. ‘It was exactly as you see in the film: ‘they’re huddled, they’re holding each other, they’re on these bare, stained mattresses.’ They were too afraid to talk. One of them pointed to the river outside. ‘We don’t want to end up floating.’

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