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UN's Bangura Not In UNSC S. Sudan Rape Radio Meeting, Sri Lanka Reply

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 25 -- After the Sexual Violence in Conflict debate of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked the UN's envoy on the topic Zainab Bangura about virtual impunity for rape by UN peacekeepers, about the calls to rape broadcast on radio in South Sudan, and about Sri Lanka's denial of a detailed report of rape targeted at Tamils.

  On the last of these topics, Bangura answered Inner City Press on April 24, UN video here from Minute 15:15, Inner City Press video here and embedded below.

  On immunity, raised by Jordan's Ambassador among others, Bangura replied that there has been progress since her time in Sierra Leone. But, Inner City Press asked, doesn't it remain the case that all UN Peacekeeping does amid charges of rape is to repatriate the soldiers to their country, with no assurance they will be prosecuted.
    Bangura replied that the UN is a membership organization and Jordan's critique was probably of the member states, not the Secretariat.

   Inner City Press asked about a closed down Security Council consultation in which participants say the South Sudan rape-radio broadcasts were discussed in detail. Bangura said she was not privy to the meeting -- a senseless exclusion -- but that she is glad Navi Pillay and Adama Dieng are going there. We'll see.

  On April 24 on Sri Lanka, Bangura to her credit replied that she is "concerned, worried" and has spoken with country's Permanent Representative, Palitha Kohona, about it, urging him that Sri Lanka designate a "focal person" on the issue.

   On April 25, it was neither Kohona nor his deputy Shavendra Silva who spoke for Sri Lanka, but another. But the speech, here, was written for Silva.

  Inner City Press had asked about a report authored by Yasmin Sooka, who previously served on one of the UN's panels looking at war crimes in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka on April 25 criticized Sooka's report, here at Page 2:

"Certain organisations are involved in propagating false reports of sexual violence against the Sri Lankan military. A recent report was authored by Ms. Yasmin Sooka. Accusations, often with disturbing details, have been made in this report without providing sufficient details such as time and place and the identification of victims, to enable investigations and prosecutions. These accusations are then repeated in other publications of different organizations, thereby contributing to forming an opinion which is propagated without evidence. None of these allegations have been substantiated by verifiable data in any of these documents. Significantly, no credible evidence has been directly brought to the attention of Government authorities by any of these parties. The Government has not been provided the evidence which is claimed to be in the possession of the authors of these reports in order to investigate and respond."

 Bangura said Yasmin will be in New York "next week" and they will meet. We hope to have more on this.

  Last week, Inner City Press asked yet another former UN panelist on Sri Lanka, Marzuki Darusman, if he thought the UN's response to his report had been successful. Darusman cited the example of Cambodia, for the proposition that justice can take a long time. But how long?

  The UN can't even keep track of its own statements. On alleged rapes by UN peacekeepers in Mali, the UN told Inner City Press in January that the investigation was finished. Then on April 23, the UN's Mali envoy Bert Koenders said it won't be finished for two or three weeks, but predicted or pretold that the UN peacekeepers will be cleared.

  Bangura, when Inner City Press asked, didn't know which was true, or any update on the rape charges against UN peacekeepers themselves.

  Combined with the UN's refusal to be accountable for, or even acknowledge service of legal papers on Ban Ki-moon about, bringing cholera to Haiti, how can the UN effectively push for accountability by anyone else? We'll see. Watch this site.


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