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On CAR Rapes, UN's Zeid Tries to Rally Staff, Is Told to Act on Ladsous

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 8 -- French soldiers in the Central African Republic allegedly sexually abused children, as exposed in a UN report leaked by staffer Anders Kompass.

 For more than nine months, no action wastaken -- no interviews of victims or alleged perpetrators were done -- other than the UN suspending Kompass for the leak, on which the UN Dispute Tribunal ruling recites that UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous requested Kompass' resignation. (See Paragraph 9, here.) Ladsous told Inner City Press he denies it - then refused questions.

  Now UN system staff complain to Inner City Press that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid of Jordan, in a closed staff meeting on May 8, tried to downplay the scandal, going so far as to blame imams in Bangui for not playing their role.

  But it was OHCHR which didn't even give the report of the rape of CAR children to CAR authorities, only to the French.

  Zeid was specifically asked to act on the revelation that DPKO -- that is, Ladsous -- intervened in the OHCHR process.

  But, the sources told Inner City Press, Zeid appears poised to try to use his record ten years ago on sexual abuse to shift the blame to imams.  Inner City Press has shown a failure by his Office to act on past leaking, to Morocco. We'll have more on this.

  On May 7, Inner City Press asked more questions about this - including to Herve Ladsous himself.

  After a long closed-door consultation meeting of the Security Council, Ladsous emerged. Inner City Press asked him, based on Paragraph 9 of the UNDT ruling, Why did you ask Kompass to resign?"

  Ladsous stopped and said, "I deny that." Inner City Press put the handheld video online, here.

  Moments later Agence France Presse, Voice of America and others arrived - what, no Ladsous? Ladsous returned and stood by the stakeout as May's UNSC President spoke, and told Inner City Press that there was a discussion of the alleged CAR rapes. She said that Ladsous would speak after her.

 But when Ladsous spoke, he did not take any questions -- from anyone. He spoke about CAR without mentioning the alleged rapes. Then, before launching into his French version, he said he had answered "a correspondent" that he denied asking Kompass to quit.

 As Ladsous left without taking a single question, Inner City Press asked if the alleged rapists are still in the French Sangaris force which his MINUSCA mission works with, and why the UN's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy does not apply.

  Ladsous did not answer. He stopped by the elevator but told those who followed him, including Inner City Press, to turn off their recorders.  So Inner City Press will not report what he said - but Inner City Press told Ladsous and his spokesperson to provide any comment they have about Uruguay (separate story forthcoming.)

 Afterward there was speculation, When is Ladsous going to resign?

  Inner City Press says, there are questions to answer first.

  SRSG Bangura told Inner City Press that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (and UNICEF) did not share with her Office their report about alleged child rape by French soldiers in CAR.

  First, Ms. Bangura told Inner City Press her Office has no jurisdiction because it is "DPKO," the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

  But the UN has been trying to distance itself from the scandal by saying it had nothing to do with DPKO.

(The UN still refuses to explain or answer why DPKO chief Herve Ladsous, a long time French diplomat, appears in the UN Dispute Tribunal order reinstating the leaker as having urged that the leaker "resign" or be fired. Ladsous will brief the Security Council, including on CAR, later on May 7 - we'll have more on this.)

  Inner City Press told Bangura, this is not DPKO, these are French soldiers in the Central African Republic. Same answer: no jurisdiction. The UN Spokesman seemed to say, it's in the mandate.

  We'll check - but if so, if this UN Office on Sexual Violence and Conflict does not cover French soldiers demanding sex from children for food, that what good is the Office?

  We'll have more on this.  (Bangura also spoke, movingly, about the plight of women and children in the Islamic State area, including the inability to get birth documents which she said is a problem through the region.)

  The UN Dispute Tribunal has issued an order reinstating Kompass to his position. (Inner City Press has put the full Order online here; Guardian coverage here.) Tellingly, the order says in Paragraph 9 that the request that Kompass resign for having leaked and made public pedophilia by French solder was "made by the Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations."


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