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At UN, Questions of Moreno Ocampo's Competence and Silence on Congo's Bosco

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 3 -- As International Criminal Court prosecutor Jose Moreno Ocampo prepares to denounce Sudan for not turning its president over for what would be a lengthy trial, questions arose Thursday at the UN about Ocampo's competence and double standard in not devoting comparable energy to calling for the arrest of previously ICC indicted war criminal Jean-Bosco Ntaganda, with whom the UN Mission in the Congo collaborates, according to Congolese Army documents and the UN's own experts' report.

   On the issue of competence, Inner City Press asked Human Rights Watch's Richard Dicker about a leaked HRW letter to those who ostensibly oversee Ocampo, raising concerns about the International Labor Organization's award of over 200,000 Euros in damages after finding that Ocampo denied a whistleblower due process. Video here, from Minute 45:40.

   Dicker acknowledged that the letter was sent, claiming that HRW has publicly criticized Ocampo, but did not explain why the letter was marked confidential and only became public when leaked. "We don't kiss and tell," he finally said -- ironic, in that the underlying claims against Ocampo, raised by the whistleblower before Ocampo fired him, were of sexual harassment by Ocampo. But HRW does not kiss and tell.

UN's Ban and ICC's Moreno Ocampo, whistleblowers not shown

   On Ocampo's relatively silence about Bosco, HRW's Dicker was noticeably more forthright, saying that "the Prosecutor need to make affirmative" statements "on this issue," but also only so far responded to queries. But why then doesn't HRW, and groups like it, affirmatively critique Ocampo for his silence, rather than waiting for Press questions in order to do so?

   Dicker said the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has a blindspot or weakness in that it has not prosecuted any RFP or Tutsi worngdoers. Afterwards, Inner City Press asked the ICTR's Prossecutor Jallow to response. He said the HRW is misinformed, that it is that he relies on the Rwanda justice system to go after such suspects. But when Inner City Press asked Mr. Jallow about one of the highest profile suspects, Rwanda General Karake Karenzi, Jallow said he hadn't heard the name, it didn't ring a bell. Blindspot indeed.....

On Sri Lanka, No Answer on Nambiar's Role in Deadly Surrender, IDP Counting Questioned

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 3 -- As doubts grow about what the UN did and didn't do in Sri Lanka's killing fields, the UN left a simple factual question unanswered on June 3. Inner City Press asked, at the day's UN media briefing in New York

Inner City Press: There are media reports quoting Vijay Nambiar on 17 May as having said that he spoke with these two LTTE leaders, not the founder, but the two that tried to surrender, that he spoke to them through this one person called KP and conveyed it to the Government and conveyed back through KP that they should come out with a white flag. By all accounts, they were then shot. And what I am wondering is whether… In this media account it says that Vijay Nambiar was invited to go and witness this surrender, somehow to go to northern Sri Lanka and become more involved. Can you confirm that these communications, you know, there are quotes that are out there, so the UN can either deny or confirm them? But did it take place and what’s its role?

Spokesperson Michele Montas: Let me… I’ll ask Mr. Nambiar.

   Nine hours later, no response has been provided. The UN's Vijay Nambiar has been quoted that "as for the insinuations in a section of the Press about me and my brother, I do not deem it warrants even a response." While Vijay's brother Satish has written an op-ed praising the Sri Lankan general who conducted the controversial offensive in northern Sri Lanka, the more fundamental question is whether given Sri Lankan history Ban Ki-moon should have sent a former Indian diplomat as his envoy. Even some of Ban's closest advisers think not.

UN's Kofi Annan in 2004 with Vijay Nambiar, then India's Ambassador

   And now, no answer in nine hours about possible involvement in a violation of the Geneva Conventions, to whit, the shooting of people surrendering waving white flags. Some UN sources describe the additional involvement of presidential brother Basil Rajapaksa, who met with Ban Ki-moon in January in New York and on May 23 in Kandy, the Buddhist shrine town where Ban consented to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

  On June 3, Inner City Press also asked

Inner City Press: on Sri Lanka, there are these OCHA reports they put out, you know, situation reports. And the one of 30 May says that, you know, in essence it says that, it decreases the number of IDPs in the camps by 13,000 and it says, in a single line it says this decrease is associated with double-counting. In the previous report [27 May], which had 13,000 more IDPs, it said that the system was improved systematic registration. So what is the UN doing to make sure that people aren’t actually disappearing from the camps when its own numbers reflect 13,000 people missing?

Spokesperson Montas: Well, I have to say that it is a rather an unusual situation. There is such a massive influx of people, which can explain that the registration process -- which is still ongoing, by the way -- there was some double counting that was involved. And, as soon as they found out they rectified the numbers to reflect that. So, the UN can, you know, we’re there… They’re not our camps, you know. We’re there to assist for better treatment of the IDPs.

Inner City Press: Since the numbers were so specific, can the… is the UN then by saying that the entire 13,130 that are missing are just double counting, is it saying that no one has been taken out of the camps?

Spokesperson Montas: That is what OCHA is saying. It is double counting, they went through it several times, and it is double counting. It is not about people missing.

   We'll see -- watch this site.

On Sri Lanka, Ban Will Brief in UN Basement June 5, Of "Missing" IDPs and Ms. Butenis

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 2, 11 am -- Two weeks after his fly-over the shattered "No Fire" Zone in Sri Lanka, on June 5 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will finally brief the UN Security Council, albeit in the basement, on par with Sri Lanka's ambassador. The format will be an "informal interactive dialogue" of the Council, of the type held before Mr. Ban's one-day trip.

   Now, with public reports of the number of civilian dead climbing past 20,000 and Mr. Ban fending off allegations in mainstream newspapers that he and his envoy Vijay Nambiar downplayed the carnage in Sri Lanka, Ban will descend to the basement and give a closed-door briefing, as Mr. Nambiar previously resisted.

In Sri Lanka, UN's Ban's banner, some IDPs not shown

   The UN seems to hope that this will be the final briefing, at least at the Security Council. But with the UN now on the hook to fund what some call ethnic cleansing camps, and a new controversy about over 13,000 camp detainees suddenly gone "missing" in the UN's own reports -- click here for Inner City Press' exclusive story -- the UN will be under pressure to do something, anything. If the recent past is any guide, it will try to resist this pressure, and even to attack the messenger.

 In Washington, President Obama has put forward a nomination for the next US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Patricia A. Butenis of Virginia. More on to follow -- watch this site.

 Channel 4 in the UK with allegations of rape and disappearance

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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