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Missing from ICC's Lubanga Verdict is Kerim, Given Immunity Under UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 14 -- Amid the backslapping and self-congratulation around the 593 page Lubanga verdict released today at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, there is no mention of another recruiter of child soldiers well known to the ICC, to the UN and former high UN officials who are now back in action in Syria: Peter Kerim, a/k/a Karim.

Kerim was the leader of a competing militia, the FPI, which inarguably recruited child soldiers, as well as taking hostage and killing UN peacekeepers.

 But when he negotiated an impunity deal with the government in Kinshasa, the UN under then top envoy Alan Doss either looked away or was involved.

  Then UN Peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno, the second of what's turned out to be four Frenchmen in a row to hold that post, told Inner City Press he thought Kerim was "on drugs... asking for boots and the return of his motorcycle" in exchange for releasing the MONUC Nepali peacekeepers.

  So what ever happened to Peter Kerim? Well, as part of the impunity deal the UN in essence signed off on, he was made a Colonel in the Congolese Army, and installed in a hotel in Kinshasa. Doss knew of this.

  Now both Guehenno and Alan Doss, who left the UN amid a nepotism scandal after asking or order UNDP to break the rules and give a job to his daughter, are visibly "back in the game" with Kofi Annan, traveling to Syria in what one disgusted Gulf diplomat told Inner City Press is their "old school, back room diplomacy" that sucks up to war criminals. Accountability, indeed...

For the record, UNICEF wrote to Inner City Press:

Dear Matthew, below are some of the answers to your questions. Child soldiers DRC:

19 April, 201 FNI members left the Centre de Brassage Initial in Kpandroma (where ex-combatants are retrained and integrated into the FARDC - the DRC Armed Forces) and went to Bunia.

On 13 May, a second FNI group of more than 177 members arrived in Bunia.

Since April, 542 former combatants have surrendered, including 51 children associated with armed forces and groups.

From January to the present, 101 children associated with armed forces and groups have left and 95 per cent of them have been reunited with their families. The others have been transferred to COOPI’s transit and guidance centre awaiting reunification with their families.

It is currently estimated that some 150 children are still in Peter Karim's army.

Footnote: the above is Congo-specific; one might also note that the UN has offered helicopter flights to ICC indictee Ahmed Harun, and Ban Ki-moon's envoy Ibrahim Gambari recently partied with ICC indictee Omar al Bashir at a reception for the wedding of Chad's Idriss Deby and the daughter of janjaweed leader Musa Hilal -- and has said, without repercussion from Ban, that he'd do it again. But that's another story. Watch this site.

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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