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Before Bashir Stopped  in S. Africa, UN Silent, Still Now, Haiti Cholera Echo

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 14 -- Three days before Sudan's Omar al Bashir showed up and got stuck in South Africa, Inner City Press on June 11 asked the UN:

Inner City Press: You’ve mentioned that the Deputy Secretary-General was going to the AU in Johannesburg.  Has he seen the reports that President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has said that he will be there and if… what does he think of them?  And will he meet with him?  And what does he think about the ICC [International Criminal Court] indictment?

Spokesman Dujarric:  We’ll have to see if he’s actually there.

  Well, he is, and Judge Hans Fabricuis now says he can't leave until the court decides on the ICC warrant. But still the UN has said nothing.

 It is impossible not to note that the today's UN has in fact come out in FAVOR of immunity, for example on the case against it for bringing cholera to Haiti. The UN never appeared in court, dodging court papers and say it was immune and didn't even have to respond. Inner City Press also asked about the appeal, and Darfur for which Bashir is indicted, on June 10:

Inner City Press:  Haiti and Darfur.  On Haiti, I just wanted to see if you have any comment on the appeal that's been filed in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on the cholera case, and it's signed — there's a brief submitted by a number of former UN officials, Mr. [Abdul Karim] Chowdhury, Ms. [Kathleen] Cravero, Stephen Lewis.  Given that these people worked for the UN and some in senior positions and that they believe that the UN should somehow move beyond impunity or immunity, what's your response?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I have no response to what we've already — what we've already said on the ongoing cases.

Inner City Press:  All right.  And on Darfur, I listened to what Mr. Mulet said, and you definitely said about these IDPs [internally displaced persons], but he was very much saying that they were going to close down — the intention was to close out UNAMID in West Darfur and even close team sites in North and South Darfur.  So I wondered, can you — he didn't do a stakeout, so I'd like to ask you.  How do you explain what some see as a declining situation and 130,000 unverified IDPs, 78,000 verified IDPs, with basically the closing down of the mission, and he didn't mention the Thabit rapes either?  Has any effort or success been made in getting access?

Spokesman:  Unfortunately, no success has been made — excuse me — in reaching Thabit.  The request continues.  But, obviously — we're now, literally months have gone by, and one can very well imagine that any evidence that would have been of use to us in investigating these rapes has now disappeared.

You know, I don't think anyone is talking about closing down the mission.  I mean, there may be some structural adjustments.  He also said that it is clear that the exit strategy for UNAMID needs to be based on a concrete improvement of the situation on the ground and, until that happens, cooperation with the Government of Sudan based on mutual trust needs to be continued.  So I would leave it at that.

  So where is the UN on this?

Nearly two years ago back on July 17, 2013 in an International Justice Day event held at the UN, there was much talk of Sudan's president Omar al Bashir, indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, visiting but quickly leaving Nigeria.

Despite the event being held inside the UN, during the two panel discussions there was no mention of UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous having met with Bashir earlier this month.

  Why did Ladsous meet him? What was accomplished? Would Ladsous do it again?

  There was no question and answer period for the first panel, which included the Permanent Representatives of Liechtenstein and Costa Rica, as well as UN anti-genocide official Mr. Adama Dieng, US Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp, former US official Richard S. Williamson (now Co-Chair of R2P working group) and Karen Mosoti, Head of the Liaison Office of the ICC to the UN.

  The panel went so long that no questions were allowed. One wonders each of their positions on the UN's Ladsous meeting with Bashir.

  But after the next and last panel, Inner City Press asked the first question, including: was Ladsous' meeting with Bashir “strictly necessary?”

  From the podium, John Washburn said that since there was “no one from UN on this panel,” he would answer as a former UN official. He said there should be a review of the issue of non-essential contacts.

  He said the UN should be clearer about rules for conduct of non essential contacts, should define the circumstances in which a contact can be deemed to be essential, and should “be transparent.”

An additional problem with Ladsous, as we've shown, is that he refuses to answer questions. Click here for video compilation. And some non-governmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch so prize their access to the UN that they will not criticize it, only member states.

  Tom Andrews, a former Maine Congressman now heading United to End Genocide spoke passionately that countries which invite Bashir should be penalized. But he did not answer the question of the UN's Ladsous meeting with Bashir.

  Then a “half-French” speaker from Human Rights Watch questioned that government's invitation to “ministers from Africa who meet... with dictators,” musing that these invited African states should be subject to economic sanctions. But nothing on Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping.

  After the panel, and discussion with a variety of groups from Sudan, Inner City Press was approached by NGO representatives who would not speak publicly about Ladsous. They said they had asked the UN not to let Ladsous meet with Bashir, “but it happened anyway, with these consequences,” as one of them put it.

  Maybe if the groups spoke more publicly, and if Ladsous were at least required to take if not answer questions, things might improve.

  Inner City Press also asked about Sri Lanka, and the lack of accountability. Scott Edwards, the director of Amnesty International's Crisis Prevention and Response Unit replied, “when I think of atrocity, nothing sticks out more than the obvious war crimes in Sri Lanka, lack of will for investigation,” including by the international community.

 Does that include the UN? We'll continue to cover that. Watch this site.


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