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Ladsous Won't Name DRC Rape Units, Nationality of Repatriated Peacekeepers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 17 -- After UN envoy Zainab Bangura answered Inner City Press' question on April 16 about the 126 rapes in Minova by saying that one of the two Congolese Army units involved had been trained by the United States, Inner City Press asked her if her Office dealt with sexual abuse or exploitation by UN Peacekeepers.

No, she said, that is not in my mandate. She told Inner City Press to “ask DPKO,” the Department of Peacekeeping Operations run by its fourth Frenchman in a row, Herve Ladsous. So Inner City Press did:

USG Bangura said she has no jurisdiction over UN peacekeepers, for example the Uruguayans in Haiti. Does DPKO believe her office should have jurisdiction? Please name the five more recent repatriations of UN Peacekeepers or police for sexual exploitation or abuse, or state why you will not.”

More than 24 hours later, and after Reuters claimed on the Minova rapes that it had gotten a “statement” “Tuesday” from the UN -- DPKO has said in writing that it was NOT a statement, only a reiteration of a three day old answer to Inner City Press -- the following came in from the UN, on this issue:

On the question on SRSG Bangura’s mandate as it relates to peacekeepers, and on recent repatriations of UN peacekeepers related to cases of sexual exploitation or abuse: The mandate of the Office of the Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict does not extend to conduct and disciplinary matters relating to personnel deployed in UN field missions. In 2012, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support referred 24 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse received in 2012 or earlier to 16 troop- and police-contributing countries. It was also determined that nine police and eight military personnel would be repatriated on disciplinary grounds and barred from participating in future field missions in connection with 13 substantiated allegations received in 2012 or earlier.”

While appreciated, why not state at least the nationality of the “nine police and eight military personnel... with 13 substantiated allegations”? There is no other way to know if these individuals were disciplined in any way by their countries.

But lack of transparency is growing, under Ladsous who refuses to answer Press questions about the Minova rapes (November 27, December 7, December 18, 2012 and since).

On April 16, Inner City Press also asked DPKO “please name the units subject to the ultimatum” and “that one of the two units was trained by the United States. Is that DPKO's understanding? Please confirm or deny.”

DPKO has responded:

On the question asking DPKO to name units of the Congolese army, MONUSCO will not be naming the units of the Congolese army that it is supporting. MONUSCO and DPKO are satisfied that the Government of the DR Congo has taken sufficient measures to meet human rights due diligence requirements for the units that we are supporting. MONUSCO is keeping this under constant review, and continues to support the Government in bringing the perpetrators of rape and other serious human rights violations in Minova to justice.

On the question of whether one of the units of the Congolese army was trained by the United States, DPKO refers Inner City Press to the US Government.”

Totally unaddressed so far by DPKO is this Inner City Press April 16 question:

that the general of one unit told her [Bangura] they have identified 33 suspected rapists. Please state if that is DPKO's understanding, and if so why the suspension of 12 (and arrest of 3) is considered sufficient by DPKO.”

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