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After Lubanga, Questions at UN on Ntaganda and Peter Kerim Go Unanswered

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 16 -- The conviction of Thomas Lubanga this week triggered a UN Security Council press statement, read out before two journalists on Friday afternoon by this month's Council's President, UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant.

  Inner City Press asked him about the narrow scope of the indictment, about the failure to arrest Bosco Ntaganda and the failure to even indict fellow warlord Peter Kerim, who not only recruited child soldiers but also kidnapped and killed UN Peacekeepers, before being made a Colonel in the Congolese Army, the FARDC.

  UNICEF had previously acknowledged to Inner City Press having counted up child soldiers recruited by Kerim, but has still not provided any information about where they now believe that Kerim is or what follow up they did.

  The spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he would look into it, and returned with a statement about how concerned the UN in the Congo is: but no more information.

  Peter Karim's impunity for killing UN peacekeepers was arranged under then Congo envoy Alan Doss and UN Peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno, both now "back in the game" as part of Kofi Annan's Syria team. Ah, accountability.

  So Inner City Press asked Council president Lyall Grant:

Inner City Press: There’s been some criticism to only indict Mr Lubanga on child soldier recruitment when he was actually thought to be responsible for the death of UN Peacekeepers in 2005. There’s also the issue of Bosco Ntaganda who was indicted at the same time, who is now in the Congolese army and who another ex warlord Peter Karim, who killed UN Peacekeepers also in the army. I understand you have to take victories where you can get them. What do you make of this idea that they should have gone further on Lunbanga and that it is something of an outrage that Bosco Ntaganda continues to be in an army that the UN works with in the DRC?”

Amb. Lyall Grant: Let me answer first as president of the security Council. I think that as this is the first verdict of the International Criminal Court is important. I think that the fact that the Security Council, although in fact only six members of the current Security Council are state parties to the Rome Statute, the fact that they have unanimously welcomed this verdict, I think is also important. So, let’s look at it as a sign that the International Criminal Court is coming of age, that international justice is seen as important, that it is making progress and that it is fully supported by the Security Council even by those members that themselves have not become state parties to the Rome Statute. I think it sends an important signal of the absence of impunity, the fact that the Security Council does not accept impunity for some of these most serious crimes.

On your other point about other, I’m now speaking in my national capacity, obviously the British government would like to see all those who are responsible for these most heinous crimes brought to justice. Obviously the decisions on who is brought, how long the cases take, which crimes they are indicted for, and are convicted of, is a matter for the court, not the matter for the British government. We would like to see more cases come to trial. We would like to see more cases come to conclusion with appropriate verdicts, so we’re not saying that the fact that Mr Lubanga has now been convicted, means that others have not been, or others should have been. We would like to see this as the first step in what I hope will be a number of convictions of people who are responsible for these crimes.

While the statement is appreciated, sometimes naming names is a required element in accountability. Earlier in the week Lyall Grant commented on accountability in Sri Lanka, but declined to comment on General Shavendra Silva, whose 58th Division is depicted in Ban Ki-moon's own Panel of Experts report as engaged in war crimes, being a Senior Advisor on Peacekeeping Operations to Ban and the UN.

Bosco Ntaganda is a known quantity, whose presence in Goma "at the finest restaurants and playing tennis" has been commented on even in the UN, by Patrick Cammaert and more recently. Ntaganda should be named, as should Peter Kerim. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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

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

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