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Cholera in Haiti Damages UN Legitimacy, Says Report by IPI Where Ladsous Wouldn't Answer

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 16 -- When the UN under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous claimed total immunity - or impunity - for cholera in Haiti, "the episode and the arguments advanced by the UN have damaged the organization’s legitimacy and moral standing."

 That verdict is from a just-released study of UN Peacekeeping, Sara E. Davies and Simon Rushton, “Healing or Harming? UN Peacekeeping and Health,” New York:
International Peace Institute, March 2015.

  Ladsous has appeared at IPI, purportedly to answer questions on his tenure as the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping. But as elsewhere, Ladsous at IPI refused Inner City Press' questions, here; here on DR Congo; here on covering up rapes.  What was that again, about lost legitimacy and moral standing?

   More than three months after the UN promised an investigation of its peacekeepers in Haiti having fired pistols and tear gas at protesters, the report has yet to be released. This is called a cover up, and has become a pattern in UN Peacekeeping under Ladsous.

 On February 19, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: often these investigations are never released.  So I wanted to ask you about the Haiti investigation of the shooting by peacekeepers at unarmed demonstrators that took place last year and has been said repeatedly that it would be almost finished, that it is finished.  Where is it?

Spokesman Dujarric: I think — my understanding is it's close to finished.  My understanding too is that the peacekeeper, the Jordanian peacekeeper that was shown in the video, has been suspended.  But I will try to get you more details.

  "Close to finished" four weeks after the UN said the same thing? Inner City Press also asked on February 19:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about cholera, because I saw that the Deputy Secretary-General met with Mr. Medrano yesterday at 4:30.  Obviously, some kind of a readout, but what I've seen is that Mr. Medrano has done interviews saying that he wishes that the issue of Haitians with cholera — 23,000 or something new cases last year — were higher profile and there's a danger of forgetting it.  So I want to I guess ask you if he's in New York, why doesn't he do a press conference or a stakeout or — I mean, Mr. Nabarro did a stakeout, he's doing a press conference.  Can you ask?

Spokesman:  I'll find out where he is.

  The question and scheduled made clear - he is in New York. But why will he not answer questions? It's being called Ladsousification.

   Here's on Inner City Press' exclusive uncovering of the sale of posts in the Ladsous-run Haiti mission MINUSTAH, on which we continue to report.

  All this is four weeks after Inner City Press on January 20 asked Dujarric about the Haiti report, and a similarly promised probe of the deadly downing of a UN helicopter in South Sudan, video here.

   While Dujarric had no answer on January 20, and provided nothing in writing in the 24 hours that followed, at the noon briefing on January 21 his deputy Farhan Haq read out this answer:

"Yesterday, Stéphane [Dujarric] was asked about the status of an investigation by the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).  I can tell you that MINUSTAH confirms that the investigation has been completed and the report is now being reviewed by the Mission’s leadership.  Appropriate actions have been taken on the initial recommendations for improvements in compliance with established operational procedures.  At the same time, the concerned individuals have been suspended from operational duty and the Member State concerned has been informed about the investigation.

"We were also asked about a Board of Inquiry report into a helicopter crash last year in South Sudan.  We were informed that the draft report is currently in the last stages of being finalized."

  Regarding Haiti, Inner City Press asked this follow up: "on the answer you gave on Haiti, I want to know what has MINUSTAH done to track down or to look into people actually injured by the videotaped firing into the crowd of demonstrators?"

  Haq replied, "Well, that update we gave you was what we have at this stage.  Like I said, that report is still being reviewed for follow-up activity.  We’ll provide any further details on the question of that incident in Haiti as we get them. "

  The nothing for four weeks.

 Nor what the UN is caught doing on film: in Haiti, shooting into crowds of people protesting the failure to hold elections, and blocked the camera of media trying to cover it. Video here, from 0:18; a second video is here.


  On Haiti more than a month ago on December 16  Inner City Press asked Dujarric, whether the peacekeeper filmed shooting a pistol and pushing back a cameraman -- like his boss Ladsous -- had been interviewed yet.
 Dujarric would not answer even this, saying he will only speak when he hears from MINUSTAH. Video here.

This might be called a cover up, or a hope it goes away -- even as Ban Ki-moon, in tuxedo, goes to the ball of his UN Censorship Alliance where an award about Haiti will be given out, with no answers on shooting protesters there.

  Back on December 15, Inner City Press also asked UN Spokesman Dujarric about the incident, which the UN mission MINUSTAH has said it is investigating itself. Dujarric repeated this, adding that he didn't want to "pre-judge." Video here. But MINUSTAH's short press statement already characterized as "violent" the demonstrators that were shot at.

 Dujarric said they'd have to see if the peacekeeper felt threatened. Video here. After the web-cast UN noon briefing, Inner City Press was contacted by viewers who noted this subjective idea of an armed authority feeling threatened is that invoked in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner on Staten Island in New York.

  As on its impunity for bringing cholera to Haiti, the UN is on strange and untenable ground in seeking to justify shooting at unarmed people. And the head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous is conveniently in former French colony Senegal during all this.

 UN Peacekeeping's chief is Herve Ladous, and tellingly he himself tried to block the camera of the Press, right inside the UN, in September 2014. Vine here.

When a subordinate carries out the same act as his or her ultimate supervisor publicly did, it is  case of command responsibility. So who should be held accountable is known - but will it happen?

  Back on December 2, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about MINUSTAH and protests:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Haiti, since there's the Mission there.  There have been protests about the failure to hold elections and they've been put down by police.  I wanted to know, first, whether there's been any MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] involvement; and also what the Mission's thinking is as the 12 January deadline imposes when the Government will be dissolved and Mr. [Michel] Martelly will rule by decree.  Is that the fact?  And what’s the UN doing?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I don't believe there's been… I don't believe there's been any involvement of MINUSTAH in the demonstrations.  Obviously, it's important that people have the right to demonstrate peacefully and it's up to the authorities to ensure that right is respected.  The political situation in Haiti obviously remains a concern.  It is one that we're following closely.

   So what happened December 2 ("no involvement of MINUSTAH") and December 12 - MINUSTAH shooting into the crowd? Inner City Press has asked Dujarric about the UN's rules of engagement, so far without answer.

   With questions unanswered, UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous had the gall on the afternoon of December 13 to rebroadcast MINUSTAH self-congratulations that ignored its filmed shooting at protesters and threatening media. Inner City Press initially asked the UN Spokesman:

"What were the rules of engagement? Who gave the order to use pistol(s) and, separately, tear gas? What is the UN's understanding of injuries caused? What was the role, and is the comment, of the Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous?"

  Inner City Press twice, in two media, asked for an explanation or comment from the UN Spokesman, and Saturday afternoon received this:

"The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, (MINUSTAH), has been informed of an alleged excessive use of force, while responding to violent demonstrators targeting law enforcement personnel supporting the Haitian National Police (HNP) and causing injuries and destruction of property, during the demonstration in Port-au-Prince today. The Mission takes this allegation very seriously and immediately opened an investigation to establish the facts."

  Artfully, or inartfully, the MINUSTAH statement does not state that it is the UN's own alleged (filmed) excessive use of force - so is the UN investigating itself? We've asked the UN Spokesperson and weekend duty officer this:

Because the MINUSTAH statement leaves it unclear, can you confirm that it is the UN's own “alleged excessive use of force” that the UN is now investigating?

What is the time frame for the investigation?

Who is doing the investigation? MINUSTAH's human rights unit?

Can to state now that the results of the investigation will be made public?

Since the MINUSTAH statement expresses conclusions about the demonstrators (“violent,” “and causing injuries and destruction of property”) please provide similar preliminary findings as to UN Peacekeepers' action shown on this video:

   Hours later, no answer, even as the second video emerged. Others in the UN system have been asked; we'll have more on that.

   Inner City Press has also sought comment from prospective UN-related awardee Andrea Bocelli, slated to accept without reference to the UN bringing cholera or now shooting into crowds there an award from the UN's Censorship Alliance next week -- and continues to await response.

  The MINUSTAH mission has just published this: "MINUSTAH has been informed of an alleged excessive use of force, while responding to violent demonstrators targeting law enforcement personnel supporting the Haitian National Police (HNP) and causing injuries and destruction of property, during the demonstration in Port-au-Prince today. The Mission takes this allegation very seriously and immediately opened an investigation to establish the facts."

  But UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous is already accused of cover-ups. This MINUSTAH statement doesn't even say against whom the allegations are.

  Inner City Press, before the December 12 protests and footage of the UN firing into them, asked the UN Office of the Spokesperson about the failure to hold elections, and if the MINUSTAH mission was involved in cracking down on demonstrations. On the latter, the answer given then was no.

  Now, this video, by Le Nouvelliste. Who will be held accountable? UN Peacekeeping is run by Herve Ladsous, a former French diplomat and spokesman during the ouster of Aristide. We will have more on this.




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