Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

In Burundi, UN Said Godefroid Bizimana Not in DPKO, Now Says Anyone Can Apply

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 3 -- Nineteen days after the UN Security Council, the United States and the UN Peacebuilding Configuration on Burundi on May 15 issued statements urging calm in the country given the return of Pierre Nkurunziza to presumably run for a third term, on May 29 Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous accepting an allegedly abusive Burundian police officer Godefroid Bizmama into his MINUSMA mission in Mali. Video here, and embedded below.

  Three days later on June 1, having no response from the UN, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq again. He said that UN Peacekeeping, run by Herve Ladsous, said there is no officer Godefroid Bizimana with the UN.

  But is he on his way? Inner City Press has seen and Tweeted the Burundi government letter referring him for a D-1 post in Ladsous' mission in Mali, MINUSMA. Where is the "due diligence," which is cited by Ladsous to NOT fight the FDLR militia in Rwanda?

  On June 3, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again. Video here. This time, Dujarric said anyone can apply through the UN's Inspira system. But this is a letter from the government of Burundi. Dujarric insisted, lets just see who gets the job. So much for due diligence?

Nor was an Inner City Press question to the UN about the impact of the situation in Burundi on its troops in Somalia answered. We will continue to ask.

  Haq on June 1 said Ban Ki-moon would be talking with President Kikwete of Tanzania. Why not to Nkurunziza? Inner City Press is asked if UN envoy Said Djinnit is able to meet with Nkurunziza.

  Meanwhile new UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien has on June 1 announced he's releasing $15 million for Burundians in Tanzania and Rwanda, refugees:

"More than 70,000 people, many of them children, have fled to Burundi’s neighbouring countries since political violence and civil unrest broke out in the capital Bujumbura in April. Some 46,000 Burundians found refuge in Tanzania and 26,000 in Rwanda.

'Children are arriving at borders sick and malnourished. Many are unaccompanied or have been separated from their families,' O'Brien said."

  In other cases, such announcements are accompanied by talk about also treating the root causes of the displacement. And here? Watch this site.  

From the May 29 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I’d asked you about this UN peacekeeping accepting police and soldiers from Burundi.  And you’d said that there’s some process.  So I want to ask you very specifically, I’ve now seen a letter that’s circulating… that’s been submitted to the UN to appoint a Mr. Godefroid Bizimana, who is a police officer, of which there are photographs firing into a crowd, to be a D-1 police officer in MINUSMA in Mali.  And I wanted to know:  how does the stated Human Rights Due Diligence Policy apply in this case, which the UN says it’s so concerned about?

Spokesman Dujarric:  All right.  Let me check.  I hadn’t heard of this.

 But hours later when the UN Spokesperson's office closed for the weekend, there was not response from Dujarric. Nor did he allow Inner City Press to put into questions to Herve Ladsous during his rare, carefully controlled press conference on the Day of Peacekeepers. We'll have more on this.

  On May 27 Inner City Press asked the May presidency of the Security Council, Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius and Permanent Representative Raimonda Murmokaité about the closed door briefing, and why attacks on journalists in Burundi wasn't mentioned in the Council's most recent Press Statement on Burundi. Video here and embedded below.

  Raimonda Murmokaité provided a second summary of the meeting, and told Inner City Press that it surely knew how Council press statements work. (A corresponent in the front row, already called on, appeared to giggle.)

  Inner City Press replied that yes, it does know how the process works or is supposed to work -- so, was language about press freedom proposed and rejected? Or never proposed?

 Raimonda Murmokaité replied, Ask the penholder. That is France, and Inner City Press did ask, see below.

 An hour before Djinnit's briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, transcript here, video here:

Inner City Press: On Burundi, I'd wanted to ask you this.  The… in today's debate in the Council, a number of the Council members brought up the crackdown on media in Burundi alongside the, obviously, attacks on opposition and protesters, including the closing of three radio stations, the seeming shooting of a radio station reporter along with the opposition leader that was killed.  I wanted to know, is the UN doing… given all that's being said in the Security Council chamber today, is the UN and its existing missions in Burundi doing anything to actually try to protect journalists in Burundi?

Spokesman:  Obviously, the question of protection of journalists is one that's high on the agenda and you… as explained by the Deputy Secretary-General himself this morning.  It is critical for Burundi to move forward.  A critical part of Burundi moving forward in a peaceful way and political dialogue is a free press and that a free press be allowed to operate.  So, it's clearly part of the overall discussions that are going on.

Inner City Press: But in the Secretary-General's statement on the attack on the opposition leader, was he or DPA [Department of Political Affairs] or whoever wrote it unaware there was a journalist also gravely wounded at the same time?

Spokesman:  We may not have been aware of the full details, but obviously, attacks on journalists are condemned.

Inner City Press: And just one other question on Burundi.  There's a lot of discussion there, there's a picture, in fact, of a police individual shooting a submachine gun and also a picture of him in a peacekeeper uniform.  So, I wanted to know, is there… is DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] doing anything to see whether people previously deployed or prospectively deployed… there's another individual named Donat [a/k/a Rukonangwe] as possibly deploying… are involved in a picture of shooting in a crowd?

Spokesman:  I think… I haven't personally seen that picture.  If it turns out to be true, as we've seen in other cases, you know, troop contributors are not permitted to use UN insignia, symbols, emblems on uniforms or planes outside of UN peacekeeping operation, so, obviously, if this turned out to be true, it would… it would be in violation of those understandings.  Obviously, the vetting process of peacekeepers from all countries goes through… is cooperation between DPKO and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).  I think there's a special focus if troops would be coming in recently from Burundi; at this point, Burundian soldiers are continuing to serve in UN peacekeeping troops, and obviously, we… the UN has no operational or any control over the troops that have returned to the country. 

  Note: the first asked about is Alfred Innocent Museremu...

  On the way into the UNSC for the 1:15 pm meeting, a Permanent member's deputy ambassador told Inner City Press there would probably be no outcome from the meeting. And so it was -- after an hour and a half, when the Ambassador of the Council's "penholder" on Burundi Francois Delattre emerged, he declined to speak on the UNTV camera.

  He did however to his credit answer questions on the stairs leaving the stakeout. Inner City Press asked him about the timing of the presidential election; he said the conditions are not met.

  But why not put that in a Security Council statement? To make it a Council position?

  Inner City Press asked Delattre about attacks on journalists, the Security Council's topic before and after the Burundi consultation. He genially said it might be a good idea for the Council to speak on that. We'll see -- cell phone video here, in the spirit of Freedom of the Press, by the Free UN Coalition for Access, along with this rough transcript:

Inner City Press: What about the timing of the presidential election?
A: There’s a wide unity around the table, conditions are not met. A wide unity, everybody says that conditions for election are not met. That’s what we should work on. Raising these conditions.
Inner City Press: what about attacks on journalists?

A: That’s a really good point, because you have these consultations on Burundi, and you have this debate on protection of journalists. That’s something that I stressed to my colleagues. Protection of journalists is everywhere and also in Burundi.

Inner City Press: Will there be a statement on it?

A: You had a statement already on Sunday, you cannot have a statement every day. These are real concerns.

  Meanwhile Inner City Press was multiply informed of an offer that had been made to Nkurunziza, to ween him from the third term dream: a high but honorary post in FIFA, the football federation, as a sort of goodwill ambassador.

  Nkurunziza turned it down, Inner City Press is informed by Permanent Representatives at the UN and other diplomatic sources. Now he has sacked ministers and said it is him or Al Shabaab. What could have been, FIFA. (Inner City Press also asked on May 18 about Qatar detaining a BBC journalist while he reported on the situation of migrant workers preparing there for the FIFA World Cup.)

  On Burundi, from the UN's May 18 noon briefing transcript

Inner City Press: on Burundi.  I wanted to ask a couple of things.  One is that there are reports of both military and police stopping people at checkpoints, checking their phones to see if they participated in anti-third term protests.  So, I wondered is that… does Mr. Djinnit or the UN have any comment on the alleged crackdown on demonstrators?  I also wanted to know, has the Secretary-General made any calls beyond the previously disclosed one to President [Uhuru] Kenyatta about the situation in Burundi?  For example, to Rwanda? And finally, I want to know if you can speak to whether DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] has facilitated the purchase and acquisition of weapons by the Government of Burundi for allegedly or reportedly for its peacekeeping operations; and if so, what safeguards are in place that those weapons are not used domestically?  Thank you.

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq:  Well, on the last one, there are safeguards to make sure that all of the equipment used for peacekeeping missions is, in fact, used in peacekeeping missions.  So, that would a matter for DPKO to follow up on, but certainly, none of that equipment is meant to be used domestically by any troop-contributing country, including Burundi.  In terms of other phone calls the Secretary-General made, on Friday afternoon, he did also speak with the President of Uganda.  And like I said, now, Mr. Djinnit is in Bujumbura and he can continue some of the discussions while he's there.  I'm not aware of any calls to the President of Rwanda.  And you've asked so many questions that I've forgotten your first.

Inner City Press:  As to that, in response to people's cell phones being checked to see if they protested, but I just wanted to understand more on this question of, you're saying weapons for peacekeeping?  I mean, most countries have their own military equipment, then they deploy to a country and they get reimbursed.  But, I’m not aware that the US makes… the UN makes sure they don't… how they're used in countries.  So, I wanted to know, very specifically, acquisition of grenades in this case, what safeguards are in place?  If a country procures them with the assistance of DPKO, do they remain out of the country?  If they go back to the country, how does the DPKO have any idea how they're used?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  DPKO follows up on how contingent-owned equipment is deployed and used.  Now on the first question, if we… if there is a confirmation of this sort of a crackdown, that would be a matter of grave concern.  Like I said, what we want to make clear is anyone responsible for ordering or committing human rights violations will be held accountable and we will take that very seriously.

  On equipment and materiel, UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, multiple sources exclusively complained to Inner City Press, wrote a letter urging that Burundi's government be provided with weapons, ostensibly for peacekeeping, including grenades. One letter, they said, was to Montenegro.

  The sources asked Inner City Press what safeguards if any were in place that these grenades and other weapons are not used against democracy protesters in Burundi itself. They noted that Ladsous' Department of Peacekeeping Operations "let Nkurunziza take nine million dollars from the contingent-owned equipment fund," which one called "a variation on Rwanda in '94."

 And so on May 18, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq to explain any safeguards concerning equipment or weapons acquired by Burundi for "peacekeeping" being used domestically.

  Haq said that DPKO monitors this. Video here.

  Inner City Press asked, since countries use their own equipment for overseas deployment and charge the UN for it, how does the UN monitor how it's used when it returns to the contributing country?

  Haq insisted that DPKO monitors for this.  (When Inner City Press asked why Ladsous over the weekend chided Malians for not being thankful enough to France, Haq told Inner City Press to "Ask DPKO" -- what, Ladsous who does not answer? His spokespeople who grab microphones or use file folders to block the filming of Ladsous?

  On the afternoon of May 18, a well place African Permanent Representative told Inner City Press flatly, Ladsous should resign.

  Inner City Press asked Haq about Burundian security forces searching civilians phones for evidence they protested the possible third term. Haq said "if that is proved" -- if.

  Haq said envoy Said Djinnit might briefing the Security Council on Wednesday May 20, and might brief the press - might.

  Inner City Press asked if Ban had called any head of state beyond Kenyatta about Burundi. Haq said, Museveni of Uganda. We'll have more on this.

  Another noted that since Ladsous had, as French Deputy Permanent Representative in the Security Council in 1994 defended the escape into Eastern Congo of the Rwanda's Hutu genocidaires, this push to sell grenades to Nkurunziza was "not surprising." But why should such an individuals be head of UN Peacekeeping? Apparently it is up to France and France alone.

  Others noted a closed door session of the UN's budget committee set for next week in which Ladsous' intervention to try to force out the whistleblower who revealed French "Sangaris" troops' child rapes in Central African Republic would have to be defended, this time by Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff Susana Malcorra.

   "Why don't they just fire Ladsous?" one well place diplomat asked Inner City Press, then answering the question: "because France." But for how long? Watch this site.

   During the UN Peacekeeping configuration meeting on May 15, Inner City Press is exclusively informed, Tanzania's Ambassador asked the UN's head of Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman why the UN and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had been so slow to condemn the coup.

   Inner City Press put the question to Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq at the UN's public noon briefing on May 15, to give the UN a change to publicly explain.

  But as on a scandal about Ban and his nephew being reported on here by Inner City Press and media in Vietnam and South Korea, where Ban Ki-moon is headed, Haq response was essentially that the UN is good, that is does not need to explain (in the case of Ban's nephew) or should be presumed to be always deeply engaged and deeply concerned. Some simply don't believe that.

   While Haq at the May 15 noon briefing said that Ban, who has yet to speak with Nkurunziza, spoke with Kenya's President Kenyatta, Inner City Press is informed that in the closed Peacebuilding Configuration meeting it was said that Ban called Rwanda's Paul Kagame as well. If so, why didn't Haq say that? (Click here for another exclusive story about Ban's office not disclosing Ban's call with US John Kerry about Yemen).


Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2015 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]