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On Cameroon, ICP Asked SG Guterres of Killings, He Didn't Hear, Deaf by Diagne?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photos, Video

UNITED NATIONS, October 18 – When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced his Central African Republic trip on October 18, Inner City Press asked him about the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation - and about Cameroon. He answered on the former. Video here. Despite how audible Inner City Press' question about the killing in Cameroon was, Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric on October 19 told Inner City Press that Guterres told him he hadn't heard the question. Tweeted video here. Inner City Press suspended disbelief as long as possible - even as Guterres' propaganda unit in his Department of Public Information, Maher Nasser UNder Alison Smale (who 36 hours ago implied there'd be an answer which there hasn't been), attacked Inner City Press which asked about transparency about UN sexual abuse as not being positive enough - but sources closed to Guterres demanded to be heard. They say Guterres, already "prejudiced" toward Paul Biya's government because it took refugees, have been (mis) advised by the person Guterres brought in to head his executive office: Khassim Diagne. Mr. Diagne, as it happens, was UNHCR's boss in Cameroon, often praising the government there. The sources tell Inner City Press that even as Guterres' Executive Office under Diagne has received gruesome videos from Southern Cameroon, Diagne and an UNdisclosed aide Matthew Willis have provided false assurances that everything in Cameroon is OK.  We'll have more on this. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: on sexual abuse and exploitation, even in the last month, there have been at least four separate reports of alleged abuse by peacekeepers from Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan. So, I'm wondering, do you think your new approach is yet having an impact? What...would you repatriate some, some battalions if they don't punish them? And, since everyone else is [asking a non-CAR question], I need to ask you about Cameroon. I'm sorry to ask you, but since October 1, there have been hundreds of people killed there. Your envoy, François [Louncény] Fall, has said he was going to go but hasn't gone. People are extremely concerned. And I'm just wondering, are we missing something? Are you preventing conflict in this instance or, or what is the UN doing? Thank you. Secretary-General:  First of all, we have already repatriated one of the forces that was present in the Central African Republic, so these are things that we are taking very seriously. And this visit with our Victims' Rights Advocate is exactly to demonstrate, and to demonstrate to the countries, our total commitment. And I have to say that I am having a very positive response. We have presented to Member States, namely troop-contributing countries, a compact with a number of very important things to ensure prevention and also to ensure training and to make sure that there is no impunity. I can announce that 72 countries have already signed our compacts and 19 are seriously considering it, in the process of preparing the signature, and that 57 Heads of State have joined the Circle of Leadership to commit themselves to fight sexual exploitation and abuse.So, we are building an alliance with Member States in order to make sure that we all work together for the zero tolerance policy to become a reality. This, of course, will take time to produce results on the ground. There is a lot to be done, but we are totally committed to this policy and to achieve results in it. Spokesman:  [France 24]. France 24:  "Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General." A month earlier on September 13 when Guterres held his pre-General Assembly week press conference, the majority of questions were about Myanmar. Inner City Press asked about reform, in light of the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery guilty verdicts and new reports of peacekeepers' sexual abuse. Guterres responded on the latter. From the UN's transcript: Inner City Press: Matthew Lee, Inner City Press, on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, hoping for readouts of your diplomatic merry-go-round upstairs during the GA week.  I want... you speak the lot about reforms. It's something I tried to ask at the stakeout but thanks for giving me the question. This case of John Ashe, who I know has deceased~-- may he rest in peace, but there was a court decision this summer in which basically it painted a picture of the UN as being quite susceptible to bribery. There was a Chin... a Macau-based businessman, Ng Lap Seng, was found guilty. So, I won't go through it all except to say, I wanted to know what your view of whether the UN... beyond just some reforms to the PGA's (President of the General Assembly) office, whether it has instituted enough reforms. Your... your... the former PGA yesterday sitting here said that there are crows picking around the side of the UN. There are a lot of business interests... basically, they try to buy their way into the UN by hooking up with a small state.  So, I wanted to know whether your reforms will address that. And there's also a Code Blue report out today about sexual abuse where they say that, of cases they've uncovered, many of them are not disclosed in the conduct and discipline website. What's your plan during this GA week to try to address the sexual abuse issue of peacekeeping? Secretary-General:  Well, in addition to the sexual abuse, as you know, we have taken already a number of measures. A global victims advocate was appointed, and four victims advocates were appointed in the four situations that are more dramatic in several African contexts.  We are preparing a compact to be signed with Member States in order to make sure that there is effective commitment in relation to this. I'm creating a circle of leadership with Heads of Government and State to assume engagement of states in making sure that everything is investigated properly. And so, we are really committed to make the best we can in this area, knowing the difficulties and the problems and sometimes even the... especially, my main concern is with the victims that sometimes have an enormous problem in coming with their cases because of the risks that they might face in different conditions with the community or even with the country or even if the UN Mission is not properly organised. So, we are deeply committed to that.  But the best protection in relation to abuses is the whistleblower policy protection. We have introduced a first group of measures to enhance the whistleblower protection when I assumed functions immediately in January. So, it's probably my first measure.  And after that, we have introduced a number of other reforms, which I believe are bringing our whistleblower protection policy to the state of the art. And if that's not the case, if there are other things to be suggested, we are ready to introduce them, because that is the best guarantee that people can detect and denounce things that happen and that they will be protected if they do so. This is, for me, an absolute must and the best possible guarantee an organisation can have in relation to the risks of abuse of power or abuses of any other kind or of corruption or whatever.  So this is a big concern for me, and I think we are acting as we can but with total determination to address the problem." We'll have more on this.


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