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HRW Soft on UN, Puts Rwanda Peacekeepers in Somalia, Ladsous' Rumors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 23 -- While even the normally oblivious UN has a debate about the non implementation of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's stated Human Rights Due Diligence Policy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere, the group Human Rights Watch issued a report on DRC on July 22 which did not even mention the UN's rights policy.

  HRW's focus was entirely on the M23 rebels, of which it said "M23 officers told Human Rights Watch that some of the Rwandan fighters in their units told them they had served in Somalia or Darfur as part of the Rwandan army’s peacekeeping contingent."

  Beyond HRW's increasing partisanship and softness on the UN, there may be a problem: it seems Rwanda never send peacekeepers to the AMISOM mission in Somalia. While HRW and its director Ken Roth have been typically one-way media since the release of the report -- triggering, after a delay, this follow up article -- maybe they will now explain this.

  What they should also explain is their omission and lack of work on the UN's own Human Rights Due Diligence Policy. As explained by Ban's outgoing chief lawyer Patricia O'Brien at a July 9, 2013 meeting on which Inner City Press exclusively reported:

"First, the UN cannot provide support to non-UN security forces where there are substantial grounds for believing there is a real risk of those forces committing grave violations of international humanitarian, human rights or refugee law. Secondly, where grave violations are committed by non-UN security forces that are receiving support from the UN, the UN must intercede with a view to bringing those violations to an end. And thirdly, if, despite such intercession, the situation persists, the UN must suspend support to the offending forces."

  At latest since the November 2012 mass rapes, as to the 391st Battalion of the Congolese Army there have been "substantial grounds for believing there is a real risk of those forces committing grave violations of international humanitarian, human rights or refugee law."

  Ladsous tried to cover these grounds up, by refusing to disclose which FARDC units his MONUSCO mission was supporting, and which units were in Minova. He openly refused Inner City Press questions on this topic at stakeout after stakeout, video here.

  But when it came out, he claimed to "intercede with a view to bringing those violations to an end." This resulted in only two arrests, for 135 rapes, and the cited dozen "suspension."

It could have been foreseen that this low level of accountability would not bring violations to an end. And it did not: the same 391st Battalion, in July 2013, was involved in abuses including the desecration of corpses, which Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky about on July 16.

  Clearly stage three of the Policy has been reached: despite intercession, the situation has persisted. So the UN "must suspend support to the offending forces" -- but has not.

   The Policy has been killed by Ladsous and the 391st Battalion. Immediately, DPKO must be made to disclosure which units it supports, not only in the DRC but at least the two other countries the Security Council has applied the Policy to, South Sudan and Somalia.

But HRW is silent on this, choosing instead to be a backstop to Ladsous, who was unable in Security Council consultations to articulate any factual basis for what he had said, admitting that it was "based on rumors we've heard." From whom - HRW?

Ladsous' admission about rumors is ironic given that he has justified his refusal to answer Press questions by calling reporting on his statements as France's Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN during the Rwanda genocide "innuendo."

   But Ladsous' statements, and a memo, are matters of record. And they should have precluded the UN, or really France, from installing him atop thousands of soldiers and now drones and an Intervention Brigade in the Eastern Congo.

Footnote: HRW's July 22 missive listed three contacts, on two continents: Carina Tertsakian, Ida Sawyer and Sarah Margon. It's understood they were only doing the job they have taken. But others have noted the International Crisis Group advertising for a "Congo analyst" -- maybe a good spot for "refugees" from HRW's increasingly embarrassing one-sided (and soft on UN) approach?


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