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On Report of Congo Army Rape & Torture, UN Stonewalls Inner City Press 3 Days & Counting

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 2 -- Does the UN probe abuses by its partners in the Congolese Army or try to cover them up?

  More than three days have passed since Inner City Press exclusively published the full text of the new Group of Experts report, including details of Congolese Army involvement in rape, torture, child soldier recruitment and trade of conflict gold.

  On June 29, Inner City Press asked four spokespeople of UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous to answer a simple question: does Ladsous' DPKO provide support to the units links to these abuses.

  Several of the spokespeople had “out of office” auto-responders. Kieran Dwyer's said he is gone until July 16, but for media inquiries to contact Andre-Michel Essoungou.

  But Andre-Michel Essoungou's e-mail said he was out of the office, too. In any event, it was he who seized the UN Television microphone at Ladsous' orders to try to avoid a question about the 135 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army, video here.

  The spokesperson who did on June 29 acknowledge receipt, when asked again on July 1 replied, “We are looking into your questions... We'll add the new [FARDC units] and get back to you as soon as possible.”

  But since then, nothing. At the July 2 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey:

Inner City Press: a couple of questions about the Democratic Republic of Congo. One, there is South African article today saying that the South African troops that are part of MONUSCO would become part of the intervention brigade, but there is some memorandum of understanding that is yet to be signed. I’d heard that it was all systems go with the intervention brigade, are there documents that were meant to be signed and what are the issues that are holding it up?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we’ll have to check on that for you, Matthew.

Inner City Press: And I wanted to ask you whether DPKO has provided you any answers to the various battalions and regiments that I asked them about Saturday, I asked you about yesterday, just to know, yes or no, whether MONUSCO works with those units.

Deputy Spokesperson: No, I have got no reply on that.

  Why not? How can DPKO have a conditionality policy without knowing -- and disclosing -- which units it works with?

  Meanwhile Radio Okapi, which has many committed workers but which is controlled by the UN misison MONUSCO, has confined the Group of Experts report to its “Media Review.”

    Bloomberg News in Kinshasa credits Inner City Press for the exclusive publication of the full text report, here. The new Free UN Coalition for Access, interested in the responsiveness and objectivity of UN (social) media, has twice asked Radio Okapi when it itself will dig into the Group of Experts report. So far, no answer.

  And with Roger Meece gone, and Martin Kobler not coming until August, @FUNCA_info's questions to MONUSCO have gone unanswered.

   What a bad time to leave a mission without a chief. Then again, see what Ladsous has done with DPKO, video here. Watch this site.

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