Prison Riot Highlights Swedish UN Wardens, Mystery Guests, One
October 18 -- When reports emerged Monday morning about UN
peacekeepers in Haiti putting down a prison riot, in which three
inmates died, some viewed it as a rare affirmative act by UN
Peacekeeping, accused this summer of inaction in the face of mass
rapes in the Congo, and the killing of civilians in Darfur.
aspect of the
Haiti prison riot seemed incongruous: that there were five UN
personnel, and two “guests,” inside the jail even before the
rioting or escape attempt began.
asked acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq what the UN personnel had
been doing inside the jail, if the UN was now in the business of
running prison systems.
directly answering, saying instead that there were “five UN staff
and two guests” and that everything the UN Mission MINUSTAH does is
“in support of local authorities.” Video here, from Minute 12:05.
is the UN
running prisons or not?Click here for
Inner City Press previous coverage of the UN and Haitian prisons.
Also, what was the role of UN Peacekeeping in
the deaths of three inmates, if any?
Chelsea Clinton in Haiti, UN wardens and 3 dead
inmates not shown
We note that,
despite a follow
up question, the investigation of the death of a young Haitian who
did odd jobs for the Nepali formed police unit in Haiti is either
still ongoing, or its results covered up. Inner City Press asked
first, then a follow up was put in last week.
six of the seven inside the jail were from Sweden, one from the UN.
It appears that Sweden had contributed police wardens, through the
UN, to Haiti. While a training function could be helpful, one wonders
what exactly the Swedes were doing in this jail, and who their
visitors were. Watch this site.
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Why Did UN Conceal Jail Slaughter, Shoot Into University?
May 26 -- Since the January earthquake in Haiti, the UN has
said publicly that it is partnering with the Haitian National Police,
and that it is unaware of evidence of HNP abuses of human rights
including summary executions.
made by the head of the UN mission Edmund Mulet, and by deputy Tony
"Rape Elates Me" Banbury, in press conferences and
video links with the Press at UN Headquarters.
of a slaughter of prisoners by the Haitian National Police in
January, in a semi collapsed jail while UN peacekeepers stood
outside. The question is, when did the UN know it, and why did the UN
come clean, but rather wait for the press to disclose it?
UN's Ban and Banbury, 4 months non disclosure of
prison murders not shown
noon briefing, Inner City Press asked:
Press: In Haiti there was this incident where UN peacekeepers
reportedly fired teargas and rubber bullets and then chased students
into the campus of the university. What, I guess, what are the UN’s
policies both on the use of these two non-lethal crowd control
measures, and what training is given in terms of not violating local
customs of not having armed military — armed, in this case,
peacekeepers — going onto college campuses?
Well, first of all, the UN Mission in Haiti has issued an
apology concerning this incident. The troops went inside the
university to arrest a student who threw rocks at UN troops. But as
you know, and as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative has
said, UN troops should not enter university grounds. When it comes
to the question of use of teargas and rubber bullets and so on, I
would need to ask DPKO for more information on the rules for the use
of those kinds of…
Press: [inaudible] and then on this, and I know that yesterday
you made this announcement that the UN is going to conduct a joint
investigation with the Government of the prison alleged killings. But
what I couldn’t figure out is when did the UN know? It seems
to many that this only became public because the New York Times ran
an exposé of it. When did the UN become aware of it, that there
an issue of how, that some of the prisoners may have been killed by
the Haitian National Police while peacekeepers were immediately
outside the jail? And why didn’t the UN go public at that time?
certainly — a number of things. First of all, the Mission
was aware immediately [that] this incident took place. That’s the
first point. The second is that they immediately, the Human Rights
Section in that town, in Les Cayes, immediately began looking into
this. What you have to also remember is precisely when it took
place, 19 January, was very close to when the earthquake took place,
and therefore MINUSTAH — the Mission — and the rest of the UN
presence as well as, of course, the entire population of Haiti were
still digging themselves out of the rubble, metaphorically and
literally. Therefore I think you could probably understand that that
was the immediate first focus. This is taken extremely seriously,
and there already has been an investigation within MINUSTAH into what
happened in that prison. And there are already preliminary findings.
And it’s precisely because there were repeated requests for an
investigation by the Haitian National Police — and precisely
because that investigation has not yet been forthcoming — that
MINUSTAH went ahead with its own investigation and, secondly, has
also now, through Mr. [Edmond] Mulet, agreed with President
Préval that there should be an independent commission to look
Press [inaudible] because there have been a series of press
conferences and video hook-ups with Mr. Mulet where questions of
killings by the Haitian National Police have come up. And I think in
one of them he said he wasn’t aware of any; then they have
described the Haitian National Police as a good partner of MINUSTAH.
Were any steps, again, [inaudible] I guess go back over and look at
those things, it wasn’t, I mean when you say MINUSTAH was aware,
was Mr. Mulet aware of this all the way back to January 19?
understanding is that the Acting Head of the Mission at that
point, Mr. Mulet, was aware from early on — I don’t know
precisely which day. But as I say, there were many other things that
needed to be contended with at that point. And he takes it extremely
seriously. And I think that it has been pursued consistently and
seriously behind the scenes to try to ensure that the Haitian
National Police conduct an investigation. And that did not happen,
or not to the extent that was necessary, and that’s why both
MINUSTAH launched its own investigation with its own resources, and
has now additionally agreed with President Préval that there
be an independent commission. And the details of that are still
being worked out.
PRESS: And just one last one on this. Were any steps taken to
not have MINUSTAH work with a particular unit or units of the Haitian
National Police that the UN had reason to believe were engaged in
this killing of prisoners?
have to find that out, I’d have to find that out, but it’s
standard practice in other operational areas to take precisely those
kinds of measures.
We'll be waiting. Watch this space.
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