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In Haiti, As Uruguay Repatriates 5 UN Peacekepers, New DPKO Chief Ladhous' Role During Aristide's Ouster Questioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 4 -- After video showing UN peacekeepers from Uruguay sexually abusing 18 year old Johnny Jean in Haiti surfaced, including unedited on a Uruguayan web site, that country's Minister of Defense Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro has announced five peacekeepers and their commander will be repatriated, sent back home.

  This action by the troop contributing country itself came two weeks after the UN and its MINUSTAH mission told Inner City Press that an investigation had found no wrongdoing.

  In fact, it is now reported that the UN "investigation" concluded despite the video footage that no violation occurred, only a joke (un broma) --

"Una investigación preliminar de las Naciones Unidas determinó que el video, pese a vulnerar varios reglamentos de la Misión de Estabilización para Haití de la ONU (Minustah), no registraba en realidad una violación sino una broma pesada llevada a cabo por los militares." (Translation of full article here.)

   Even when it is the UN which sends its peacekeepers home, the UN does not follow up to see if any discipline is imposed or even a trial held.

  Only last week when Inner City Press asked about 16 peacekeepers from Benin who were repatriated from Cote d'Ivoire after being show to have bought sex from underaged girls for food, new UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said that Benin has not told the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) what if anything has been done with the peacekeepers.

   DPKO on September 2 got a new chief, French official Herve Ladsous. As regards Haiti, further review has revealed that Hadsous was France's charge d'affaires in the country, and defended the coup against Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the extent of justifying the involvement of Dominique de Villepins' sister Veronique Albanel, which Aristide sought to sue in French court.

Ladsous, Bonnafont and selection process not shown

  Since the African Union called Aristide's removal unconstitutional and UN Peacekeeping and DPKO work mostly in African, often with the AU, some now wonder about the wisdom of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon handing the top DPKO post to a French official linked among other things to the deposing of Aristide. Watch this site.

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UN Denied Sex Abuse Before Video Came Out in Haiti, Where New DPKO Chief Ladsous Defended Ouster of Aristide

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 3 -- Video depicting UN peacekeepers committing sexual abuse in Haiti has surfaced, two weeks after the UN asked Inner City Press' August 17 questions about the abuse by saying on August 18 that its "investigation was finalized... these allegations were unfounded."

The UN never retracted this denial, or whitewash, even as the cell phone video Inner City Press asked about became public.

This classic UN cover-up comes at a time when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has just named as the new head of UN Peacekeeping a French bureaucrat, Herve Ladsous, who was a public face of France's call in 2004 for Haiti president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to leave the post to which he was elected.

One would expect Ladsous to be questioned about this, to face some form of confirmation process. But thus far, the UN has been unwilling to even describe the process by which Ban Ki-moon chose Ladsous.

On August 17, Inner City Press asked Ban's now departed deputy spokesman Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: in Port-Salut there are complaints against the Uruguayan peacekeepers of MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti], including on sexual abuse grounds --what is MINUSTAH’s response on this topic that Ban Ki-moon has recently said is so important to him?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: MINUSTAH is in fact looking into this to see about these allegations and whether there is any credibility to them.

The very next day on August 18, Haq began the noon briefing by reading out a denial:

"further to what I said yesterday on an investigation in Port-Salut, Haiti, the UN Mission there (MINUSTAH) tells us that the preliminary report of this investigation was finalized. After discussions with local authorities and members of the population in Port-Salut, the investigators found out that these allegations of misconduct could not be substantiated. The UN Mission in Haiti says that no supporting evidence was provided by anyone, and local authorities confirmed that these allegations were unfounded."

Inner City Press followed up about this one-day self-exoneration by the UN, asking Haq whether the Uruguayan UN peacekeepers

Inner City Press: ... took photos on their cell phone. When you say it has been disproved, did the UN check the cell phones, or are you saying simply that the NGO and local authorities couldn’t show you the peacekeepers’ cell phones? I mean, what was done to investigate that specific claim?

Haq answered that "no supporting evidence was provided by anyone. So, again, there was no supporting evidence on this and the local authorities informed us that the allegations were unfounded."

Inner City Press: Was a request for evidence made to the peacekeepers themselves rather than the people whose photographs…?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: They carried out an investigation.

It now appears that what the UN carried out was a whitewash, or cover-up.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

 The video is out -- here is a less edited version, that YouTube took off its site -- just as Ban while traveling in Australian and Kiribati has his new Deputy Spokesman announce, but not answer questions about, the naming of France's Herve Ladsous as new chief of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which overseas the mission in Haiti, and those in Congo, Sudan and elsewhere.

It was reported in 2004 that

International pressure mounted on the president of Haiti to resign yesterday as rebels tightened a noose around the capital, Port-au-Prince, and took a town crucial to their advance. France made a new call for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to step down after talks in Paris between the French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, and a Haitian government mission led by the foreign minister, Joseph Philippe Antonio. 'The minister [Mr Villepin] recalled that President Aristide bears a heavy responsibility in the current situation and that he should draw the conclusions from the impasse,' the French foreign ministry said....

A French foreign ministry spokesman, Hervé Ladsous, said France's proposals for an interim government and an international force to restore order had been discussed. The UN has said it can approve a civilian peace force when the government and the opposition reach agreement on sharing power and ending the fighting.

  Will Ladsous have to answer for this? Will be belatedly be vetted, even subject to some sort of confirmation process? Watch this site.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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