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In Mali UN Says It Detains 3, After Ladsous Refused Qs on UN Killing 3

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 22 -- When UN Peacekeepers are determined, by the UN itself, to have killed three civilians in Mali by using excessive force, what accountability is there?  None - and UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous on April 2 refused to answer questions about his own responsibility. Video here. Vine here.

 Now on April 22 the MINUMSA mission issued a statement about having this time apprehended three people, accusing them of preparing an explosive attack. That sounds good - but why not release the UN report on the killings of Malians by UN Peacekeeping? On April 21, when Inner City Press for the third time asked, it was told the report is "internal." We'll have more on that.

  Ladsous meanwhile is in DR Congo for either five days -- according to MONUSCO''s transcript -- or three days, according to local sources. Tellingly, Ladsous refused an invitation to attend a "protection of civilians" high level event in Rwanda in May, click here for that scoop.

 Here is our loose translation of the MINUSMA press release:

MINUSMA on Wednesday said that after the discovery of mines it apprehended three individuals in Aguelhok on April 20, on suspicions of preparing an explosive attack.

   MINUSMA said that following UN procedures [!] the three suspects will be transferred to the Malian authorities by the end of today.

   In Mali the unexploded remnants of war, IEDs and land mines undercut the freedom of movement of the population, the economy, the deployment of national and international forces and the restoration of the state's authority.

  Since 2013 in Mali, more than 325 civilians, security personnel of Mali or MINUSMA have been wounded or killed by mines' explosions.

On April 20 the MINUSMA mission issued a statement about another of its drivers being killed by assailants near Gao.  Inner City Press also condemns this attack - while continuing to note that it is unacceptable to withhold the report on killings BY peacekeepers in Gao, and for Ladsous to refuse to answer questions about it - and about Haiti.

  On April 20 on Haiti, the UN merely read-out its summary of its report on its use of excessive force, while withholding the report as it did on Mali. When Inner City Press asked why, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric called them "internal" reports. On excessive use of force by "peacekeepers"?

 Here is MINUSMA's April 20 statement:

Today, at around 11:30 a.m., a convoy of civilian MINUSMA contractors was once again attacked by assailants 30 kilometers west of Gao.Preliminary reports indicate that at least one driver was assassinated and that his truck was burned afterwards. MINUSMA immediately sent a patrol to the site.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSMA, Mr. Mongi Hamdi, strongly condemns this new attack. “I am outraged by these heinous crimes against innocent civilians. We will readjust our security measures to prevent criminal acts like this from happening again. MINUSMA cannot tolerate them,” he said.
“I also call on the Malian security forces to reinforce their own security measures, particularly on this axis. The perpetrators have to be arrested quickly and be brought to justice,” he added.

From the UN's April 6 noon briefing transcript, video here and embedded below:

Inner City Press: While you were away or last week, the summary was released of the incidents in Gao.  And I wanted to know, since Mr. Ladsous did not answer this question, does the report contain a review of the deal that was struck between the UN mission and the MNLA in Tabancourt that gave rise to the protest in which three civilians were killed?  And I also wanted to bring to your attention that during the stakeout by Mr. Ladsous on Thursday, the microphone was grabbed by Mr. Ladsous' spokesman to avoid just this question.  Since you previously said it wouldn't happen, I wanted to know what you think of it.

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:  I think on the issue of the summary, what was released is released.  I have nothing to add to the summary.  My understanding is that Mr. Ladsous' spokesman pointed to another journalist to answer the question, and that's the way it happened.

Inner City Press:  He grabbed the microphone.

Spokesman Dujarric:  Go ahead.

Inner  City Press: I just wanted to make you aware of that.  But I'm saying is that the summary of the report was released, but it seems like the underlying incident that gave rise to the protest wasn't answered about in any way.  What does the UN understand…?

Spokesman:  The report looked at, at the incident, which is a very violent confrontation.  And I think we've made our recommendations clear, and I think the investigation was done rather swiftly.

Inner City Press:  And is the Haiti report about shooting at civilians going to be similarly summarized?  And if not, why not?

Spokesman:  The Haiti report is currently… has now been finalized.  [The Department of Peacekeeping Operations] and [the Department of Field Support] have been in contact with the relevant police-contributing country concerned, which has decided to repatriate the unit commander.  In addition, three officers have been placed on modified, nonoperational duty pending the final result of the inquiry.  So I will… I hope to have more on that for you.

  But Dujarric only referred to repatriation, not to any disclosure, as in Mali, of "excessive or unauthorized force" under Ladsous. Again we ask, why not?

Here is MINUSMA's April 18 announcement, which we've loosely translated:

A MINUSMA civilian supply convoy was attacked on April 17 at about 7 pm by two assailants some 15 kilometers west of Goa in norther Mali.

After stopping the convoy, the assailants killed two of the driver in cold blood before setting the trucks on fire.

The other members of the Mission's supply team, one injured by bullets, succeeded in escaping and are helping with the investigation.

The UN Mission immediately deployed a rapid intervention force to the site.

MINUSMA firmly condemns this new attack on innocent civilians and will put everything to work so that the assailants are apprehended and put before justice to respond for their acts.

And the UN?

Here was MINUSMA's April 7 announcement, which we also loosely translated:

In the late afternoon of April 6, a MINUSMA vehicle hit a mine 30 kilometers from Kidal as it was driving toward Gao.

   The explosion injured two peacekeepers, one seriously. Both were immediately evacuated to Gao by MINUSMA for medical treatment.

   MINUSMA strongly condemns this terrorist act which it says was intended to paralyze the UN mission's operations in northern Mali. MINUSMA says it is working, along with the UN Mine Action Service, to identify, mark and clear mines in Mali to protect civilians.

  Two days ago on April 5 the MINUSMA mission issued a statement, initially in French only, about one civilians killed by terrorists in Gao - with no mention of the UN's own three killings and the underlying UN-explained French moves in Tabankort, on which we will have more. From MINUSMA, translated:

"At approximately 6 am at least three rockets were fired on Gao. Preliminary reports indicate that one of the rockets hit a house, causing the death of a woman and wounding two other civilians, taken for treatment to the Gao hospital. A MINUSMA team immediately went to the site and will help the Malian authorities with their investigation."

 And then refuse to answer questions about it, a la Ladsous?

On April 2 Ladsous appeared at the UN Security Council media stakeout but after reading a prepared statement refused to answer Press questions about the underlying Tabankort agreement with the MNLA which led to the Mali shooting. Video I here.

  Inner City Press also asked about shooting at civilians by Ladsous' peacekeepers in Haiti, caught on video, and asked if that withheld report would be released. Ladsous said, I do not respond to you. Video II here.

  Inner City Press asked if it isn't now a pattern, peacekeepers shooting at unarmed civilians not only in Mali but also Haiti, and if Ladsous will take responsibility.

  Ladsous' spokesman Nicholas Birnback then grabbed the UNTV microphone and moved it away from Inner City Press. This happened before with Ladsous and his previous spokesman. Video here, story here. At that time, after the Free UN Coalition for Access complained, the UN Spokesperson told FUNCA it would not happen again. Now it has. Accountability?

 Tellingly, the Ladsous scribe who angled for and got the first question asked pointedly if the peacekeepers in Mali weren't from Rwanda. Ladsous leered and said the Troop Contributing Country, then spoke again at the end to lay the blame on them. Video II, here, near end.

  In the public record is Ladsous' 1994 memo supporting the escape of the Hutu genocidaires who formed the FDLR into Eastern Congo, where now Ladsous' MONUSCO finds one excuse after another NOT to neutralize the FDLR as it did the largely Tutsi M23 armed group.

  Accountability? Video here.

  Inner City Press, which has been asking the UN Spokesperson - since UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous refuses Press questions -- about the killings since they occurred in January, on April 2 asked UN spokesperson Farhan Haq if the report will be made public, and if any verdict or sentence against the peacekeepers would be made public. Haq did not say yes to either.

  A report on Ladsous' peacekeepers in Haiti firing at unarmed demonstrators hasn't even been summarized, much less released.

As to the killings by peacekeepers in Gao, Haq would not even publicly state the nationality of the peacekeepers. Talk about impunity. He said the Ladsous will briefing the Security Council -- behind closed doors, of course -- about the report, then will come to the UNTV stakeout. But Ladsous refuses Press questions, on his cover up of rapes in DR Congo and Darfur and every other question. Video here, Vine here.

This is a new low in UNaccountability.

 Here is the UN's summary as read-out by Haq, video to follow:

The Inquiry launched by the Secretary-General to determine the facts surrounding the violent demonstration that took place on 27 January 2015 in Gao, Mali, in front of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Regional Headquarters has submitted its report.

The Inquiry determined that members of a MINUSMA Formed Police Unit used unauthorized and excessive force on civilian protesters during the demonstration, resulting in the death by gunfire of three protesters and the wounding of four others.

The Inquiry also established that some protesters and organisers of the demonstration bear responsibility for the violence of the protest, which included Molotov cocktails, stone throwing and attempts to breach the perimeter of the Regional MINUSMA Headquarters in Gao. The Inquiry noted that MINUSMA security forces were left to face the protesters on their own in violation of the Status of Forces Agreement with the host country. Five MINUSMA police officers were wounded during the event.

The Secretary-General profoundly regrets the casualties among civilians resulting from the excessive use of force during this event by the MINUSMA personnel concerned.  He condemns it as a violation of the MINUSMA Directive on the Use of Force. The Secretary-General is committed to ensuring that the responsible individuals are held fully accountable for their actions.

Steps are being taken in this regard with the authorities of Mali and the relevant police-contributing country. The Secretary-General encourages the Government of Mali to take the appropriate steps to prevent future such incidents.  Communications, management and crisis procedures within MINUSMA will also be examined to prevent the recurrence of such acts.

The Secretary-General is committed to ensuring justice for the victims and their families according to local customs and appropriate United Nations procedures. MINUSMA is in contact with the local authorities and with the individuals and families concerned in this regard.

On behalf of the United Nations, the Secretary-General expresses his deepest apologies to the victims and their families.

The United Nations, and MINUSMA in particular, remain committed to supporting the stabilisation of Mali.


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