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Amid Ebola & TCC Pull Out from Liberia, UN Won't Respond on "Death Squads"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 7 -- After Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe was quoted that his country's police and prison component of the UN mission in Liberia will be pulled out due to ebola there, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq on August 7 to confirm it.

  Haq did not confirm it. Inner City Press asked again for the UN Peacekeeping response to recent studies that it allows human rights abuses troops into its missions. As with pending questions about irregularities in Afghanistan including by the UN mission there and the UN Department of Safety and Security, Haq said the responsibility for providing answers -- or not -- lay outside of Ban's spokesperson's office. This is the tred.

UN Peacekeeping after 13 days has not answered Inner City Press' public question about a detailed report that it is using "death squad" soldiers. On August 5, Inner City Press asked about a new but related report, of a troop contributing country exposed for extrajudicial executions, on video:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about Nigeria and peacekeeping. Amnesty International has released not only a report, but a pretty grisly video showing Nigerian soldiers engaged in extrajudicial execution of suspected Boko Haram members. Since Nigeria is a major troop contributing country and I know there have been various questions in here about DPKO’s response to reports that have come out this summer about them using death squads from Bangladesh and un-vetted soldiers from other countries, including Nigeria. I wanted to know what is the response of the UN to this video and how it relates to the recruitment of not specifically Nigerians, but also the Bangladeshi question of how peacekeepers are in-turn sent to other countries by DPKO?

Associate Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci: Yeah, I think you’re doing a link here — there is nothing in Amnesty International that says that those specific people that are in the videos are going to be peacekeepers or were peacekeepers. I just want to be clear; you’re asking a more general question. You know that there is a vetting procedure for every peacekeeper, and you know DPKO works closely with all troop-contributing countries to make sure that the people that come into our peacekeeping missions hold up to international standards when it comes to human rights.

Inner City Press: Was there a response to the Asian Human Rights Centre did a very detailed report about Bangladesh where they did link human rights violations…

Associate Spokesperson Maestracci: Yes, and I remember you asking. I’ll see what I can… I’ll ask again. Thanks.

  But why hasn't Ban's spokesperson's office, and DPKO, answered in 11 days? During UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous' tour to troop contributors Nepal, Bangladesh and India, Inner City Press on July 24 asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: USG Ladsous has been in Nepal, Bangladesh and the region.  In Bangladesh, while he was there, the Asian Center for Human Rights put out a pretty detailed report called “ Bangladesh, Sending Death Squads to Keep the UN’s Peace”.  And they detail incidence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and elsewhere in Bangladesh, and tie it to particular units that have contributed troops to UN peacekeeping.  So, I wanted to know, one, what’s the Department of Peacekeeping Operation’s response to that report.  Two, did it come up while he was in Bangladesh?

Deputy Spokesman:  On Bangladesh, the basic point is always the same — that if countries contribute troops to UN peacekeeping, they have to go through the proper vetting procedures to make sure that they are in compliance with human rights and other requirements by UN peacekeeping.

Inner City Press:  This report names particular units.  So, I’m just wondering, I’ve seen in the past, the UN has issued some kind of response to Human Rights Watch reports, Amnesty International Reports.  Is kind of viewed as a regional group?  Or is there going to be a response to the units, some of whom are barred from outside military aid?

Deputy Spokesman:  I know that my colleagues in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations are aware of this particular report from this non-governmental organization and if they have a response, I’ll find out what that is.

  But Haq and Ladsous' DPKO have given no answer. Instead, while in India Ladsous who openly refuses to answer questions from the investigative Press gave a canned interview in which he lauded his drones and said, "The most important is that we must be available to support the political processes. The second is human rights."

  Human rights? Ladsous' DPKO has answered a detailed human rights report, Ladsous refused to answer about peacekeeper killings in the Central African Republic and stonewalls for months on the 130 rapes in Minova by his partners in the Congolese Army, video here.

   Back on July 16 in New York, Ladsous said he would take questions about peacekeeping in the Central African Republic, Inner City Press arrived early to ask about reports the current MISCA peacekeepers have killed civilians, for example in Bozoum, here.

  Ladsous however refused to answer the question. Video here.

  So on July 17, Inner City Press put the same question to UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq: what does the UN know, and what has it done about, allegations of killing by MISCA peacekeepers, proposed to be "re-hatted" in September?

  Haq told Inner City Press to "ask MISCA." So the UN has no role, and will automatically put UN "blue helmets" on these troops?

  Inner City Press also asked about media reports in Nepal that Ladsous will visit that country on July 11, ostensibly to "acquire information on the latest political situation [and] the progress made in terms of constitution writing."

  But do Ladsous and DPKO have any mandate to review constitutions? Shouldn't Ladsous if there review cholera screening, in light of bringing the disease to Haiti? Ladsous did not answer, and neither did Haq.

   On July 16 at the Security Council stakeout, first Ladsous sought out a softball question in French; then when the Press question about MISCA in Bozoum was asked, he shook his head and said, “I give the floor to Madame.”

  Earlier in the afternoon at the same UN Television stakeout, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Rwanda had answered Inner City Press' question by stating that Ladsous' Department of Peacekeeping Operations not only flew a sanctioned FDLR militia leader in the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- Ladsous has also refused to answer Rwanda's formal June 26 complaint. Video here.

   So Inner City Press asked that question, politely but audibly. Again Ladsous refused to answer, looking desperately around for a friendly question.

 Ladsous has adopted this position -- video compilation here -- since Inner City Press asked him about his history during the Rwanda genocide in 1994, as France's Deputy Permanent Representative in the Security Council arguing for the escape of genocidaires into Eastern Congo, sample memo here.

  It was and is a straightforward question, the type public officials answer every day. But Ladsous has refused, and has gone further.

   Because Ladsous is protected -- was nominated -- by the French government which has controlled UN Peacekeeping four times in a row now, this anamoly is allowed to go on inside the UN.

  Here's how it look from outside, in the UK New Statesman. And here is a video of Ladsous ordering his spokesperson to take the microphone away so that questions about rapes by his partners in the DRC Army could not be asked.

  Here is a video of Ladsous taking the friendly scribes atop the UN Correspondents Association into the hall for a private briefing. To this has the UN descended.

  More seriously, UN Peacekeeping by most accounts brought cholera to Haiti, which has killed over 8,000 people. Inner City Press asked Ladsous, loud and clear (but nothing but polite) if his DPKO now belatedly screens peacekeepers from cholera hot spots before deployment.

  Ladsous refused to answer. To this has the UN descended. The new Free UN Coalition for Access has formally proposed that UN Under Secretaries General not be allowed to take this approach. Watch this site.


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