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In Haiti, UN Shot at Civilians, Didn't Tell UN Spox, Who Calls ICP Rude for Qs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 2 -- When UN Peacekeepers are determined, by the UN itself, to have shot at civilians by using inappropriate force, what accountability is there? None, with Herve Ladsous atop UN Peacekeeping. Even the supposed reporting in the incidents is inconsistent.

 Now, at least as to Haiti, possible killings by UN Peacekeepers are not even reported to UN headquarters in New York. This is a new low.

On April 30, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: On Haiti, you may have a statement on this.  There's some footage that has come out of UN peacekeepers, they're described as the Brazilian, but in any case Blue Helmets, shooting at people in Cite de Soleil, and there's a gentleman on the ground dead; that supposedly took place Tuesday, or the publisher of the video says it was on Tuesday, and there are people with… against MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] signs.  So I wanted to know, do you have anything on the death or the kill… of a civilian by MINUSTAH in Haiti on Tuesday?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  No, in fact we have not received any report from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti concerning any sort of violent incidents in recent days.  We will check with them on this, but… but as far as I'm aware, they have not reported any such incident.

  The next day on May 1, making it clear that MINUSTAH never even told the UN Headquarters about its shooting(s), Haq came back with this answer -- then called Inner City Press rude and an "obnoxious child" for asked follow up questions. Call it the Ladsousification of the UN, or at least this part of it. On Haiti Haq said on May 1:

"In response to a question asked yesterday about Haiti, we can say that on April 28th around 6 p.m. in Cité Soleil, MINUSTAH troops, while carrying out a routine patrol, came under fire by unidentified individuals and responded in self-defence. Subsequently the Haitian National Police’s Public Order Unit arrived on the scene and took the lead in the response. 

"It was later reported that a Haitian citizen, who died from gunfire, was found in the area where the exchange of fire involving all the parties took place.  The Haitian National Police has recovered the body and has launched an investigation into the circumstances of the death of the individual. MINUSTAH for its part has launched a preliminary investigation to ascertain the circumstances of the events."

  But as seen in Haiti and Mali, UN Peacekeeping refuses to release reports of its shooting at civilians, even when the civilians are killed.

Haq on May 1 also said to Inner City Press, video here:

Inner City Press: I'm going to ask a question because you just said —

UN Deputy Spokesperson Haq: You must have been the most obnoxious child.

 Welcome to today's UN.

From the UN's April 6 noon briefing transcript, video here and embedded below:

Inner City Press: While you were away or last week, the summary was released of the incidents in Gao.  And I wanted to know, since Mr. Ladsous did not answer this question, does the report contain a review of the deal that was struck between the UN mission and the MNLA in Tabancourt that gave rise to the protest in which three civilians were killed?  And I also wanted to bring to your attention that during the stakeout by Mr. Ladsous on Thursday, the microphone was grabbed by Mr. Ladsous' spokesman to avoid just this question.  Since you previously said it wouldn't happen, I wanted to know what you think of it.

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:  I think on the issue of the summary, what was released is released.  I have nothing to add to the summary.  My understanding is that Mr. Ladsous' spokesman pointed to another journalist to answer the question, and that's the way it happened.

Inner City Press:  He grabbed the microphone.

Spokesman Dujarric:  Go ahead.

Inner  City Press: I just wanted to make you aware of that.  But I'm saying is that the summary of the report was released, but it seems like the underlying incident that gave rise to the protest wasn't answered about in any way.  What does the UN understand…?

Spokesman:  The report looked at, at the incident, which is a very violent confrontation.  And I think we've made our recommendations clear, and I think the investigation was done rather swiftly.

Inner City Press:  And is the Haiti report about shooting at civilians going to be similarly summarized?  And if not, why not?

Spokesman:  The Haiti report is currently… has now been finalized.  [The Department of Peacekeeping Operations] and [the Department of Field Support] have been in contact with the relevant police-contributing country concerned, which has decided to repatriate the unit commander.  In addition, three officers have been placed on modified, nonoperational duty pending the final result of the inquiry.  So I will… I hope to have more on that for you.

  But Dujarric only referred to repatriation, not to any disclosure, as in Mali, of "excessive or unauthorized force" under Ladsous. Why not?

  On Mali, after Ladsous' MINUSMA like France, for which Ladsous was a diplomat including during the 1994 Rwanda genocide, urging the escape of Hutu genocidaires into Eastern Congo, reached side deals with the MNLA rebels about Tabankort, there was a protest in Gao.

  UN Police ultimately under Ladsous' command shot and killed three civilians. In this case, because the Malian government wanted an investigation of the killing of protesters which supported its positition, the UN did an investigation and at least released a summary. (Ladsous refused to answer Inner City Press' questions including about the roots of the protest, his mission's deal with the MNLA in Tabankort.)

   But in Haiti, where Ladsous' peacekeeping mission was filmed shooting at protesters who oppose Michel Martelly, the report has not even been summarized. MINUSTAH chief Sandra Honore told Inner City Press the report is finished and "with DPKO" - that is Ladsous. But no summary is being released. Ladsous refused Inner City Press' question about this, and scribes ignored that these are two incidents of shooting unarmed civilians, in two countries, under Ladsous. Who is responsible?

   Vine here. These questions took place at the UN Security Council stakeout, but Reuters and Agence France Presse did not mention it, only blaming Rwanda. Both previously tried to censor Inner City Press coverage of Ladsous and French colonialism, to the extent of moving to ask the UN to throw Inner City Press out.

Which approach is journalism?

AFP wasn't even AT this stakeout - Ladous sought to avoid questions by repeating his talking points in French, but no AFP. Then Reuters told UNTV to give it the microphone, to ask about Rwanda. Ladsous leered. Then a retired Reuters reporter was pointed at by Ladsous' spokesman Nick Birnback, who then grabbed the UNTV microphone to take it away from Inner City Press.


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