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On Covered Up Darfur Rapes, Ladsous Says Lack of Access, Ignoring Nov 9 Press Release

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 17, more here -- With Darfur the topic of the UN Security Council open meeting and consultations on March 17, Inner City Press asked a number of Council members about the cover up of rapes in Tabit and the UNAMID mission's November 9 press release saying everything was fine.

  There were vows that UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous would be asked about the rapes, if only in the closed door consultations.

  In his open briefing, Ladsous in essence covered-up the cover up. He did not mention UNAMID's November 9 press release, but instead attributed the whole thing to a lack of access. Ladsous said:

"the Government's denial of access for UNAMID to conflict-affected areas continues to significantly impede the Mission's ability to implement its Protection of Civilians mandate. This has been the case in Thabit, North Darfur, following the allegations of mass rape in October."

  But UNAMID got to Tabit, and issued a press release that everything was fine.

  This happened after Ladsous refused to answer Press questions for months about rapes in Minova in the DR Congo, and amid unacted on sexual abuse by Ladsous' own UN Peacekeepers as exposed in the leaked report Inner City Press reported on the day before the Darfur meeting, on March 16, here.

 With UN Peacekeeping still providing few to no updates on its UNAMID mission's under-reporting of attacks in Darfur, including 200 reported rapes in Tabit, Inner City Press on January 26 asked Security Council ambassadors Mark Lyall Grant of the UK and Raimonda Murmokaite of Lithuania, "what happened with UNAMID going back for real investigation of rapes in Tabit?"

  Lyall Grant replied, "We continue to press DPKO to encourage UNAMID to revert on the Tabit allegations."

   Murmokaite added, "have been raising the issue at consultations, will continue."

 And so Inner City Press at the January 26 UN noon briefing asked Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here:

Inner City Press: two of the Security Council ambassadors this morning said they continued to ask DPKO to ensure that the Tabit site of alleged mass rapes is revisited. I want to know has any action been taken on that? Has there been any move by UNAMID?

Spokesman Dujarric: The request to visit Tabit stands. There's nothing to report.

 Nothing to report? Back on January 8 Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, video here:

Inner City Press: what has the UN system done in order to get access again to Thabit in Darfur, where there were allegedly 200 rapes, and then the Government didn’t allow any inspectors. What have you done since we last spoke on it?

SG Ban: As for the first part of the question, as you know, we tried to have a thorough investigation. This report might not have been sufficient because of the lack of full cooperation of the authorities on the ground. That has really hampered our authorities to go into the field and get a thorough investigation. It is important that we have to have a thorough investigation and as a matter of principle, there should be a clear accountability process and justice. I am firm about this matter. And we will, in the course of time, have better information on this matter.

  While appreciated, it is widely recognized that the more time goes by, the more difficult a credible rape investigation becomes. So why did UNAMID issue a cover-up November 9 press release?

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