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For Mali, UN's Ladsous Proposes Grace Period for Child Soldier Recruiter Chad

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 10, updated -- Three weeks before the UN is slated to take over the mission in Mali, how to deal with Chad being on the UN's list of child soldier recruiters remains in play.

  The UN and its Department of Peacekeeping Operations led by Herve Ladsous claim to have policies of human rights due diligence and zero tolerance. Under that, Chad should be banned, at least until it is off the UN's Children and Armed Conflict list.

  But the UN needs troops in Mali, and both Chad and the Bamako-based Malian authorities are historic (colonial) allies of France, for which Ladsous served as Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN, notably during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, supporting the flight of the genocidaires into Eastern Congo.

  And so, NGOs and UN sources exclusively tell Inner City Press, Ladsous is working toward a so-called "grace period" on child soldier recruitment. It would be similar to the policy Ladsous stealthy adopted after 135 rapes by his partners in the Congolese Army in Minova in Eastern Congo in November 2012, dubbed "three strikes and maybe you're out."

  In that case, Ladsous never implemented the stated policy. Support continues to the 391st and 41st Battalions despite only three arrests having been made, for 135 rapes. A request by Inner City Press to Ladsous for an update on May 29 resulted in Ladsous saying, "You know I don't respond to you." Video here.

  Despite a second request by Inner City Press on May 30 to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Office of the Spokesperson, still no Minova rape update has been provided.

  Ladsous' lack of transparency undermines OCHA (whose new Assistant Secretary General on June 4 told Inner City Press the question should be put to DPKO), and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with operates jointly with DPKO on these issues in the Congo

  On Chad - Mali, DPKO's attempts to work around stated UN policies is undermining UNICEF and Ban's office on Children and Armed Conflict, led by Leila Zerrougui, both of which are quietly negotiating with DPKO.

  While in some cases such quiet negotiations might be merited, that is not the case now, on the undermining of a publicly stated human right policy, by a UN official like Ladsous who refuses to answer Press questions about mass rape, advice by an alleged war criminal, and cholera in Haiti.

  At least one NGO has been willing to say on the record, for publication by Inner City Press, that "after a 2-year period of inaction on the Action Plan, there should now be no short-cut to Chadís de-listing" and "we donít want any grace period to act as a loophole." (After the NGO provided and then agreed to this quote, we are nevertheless removing its name.)

  Inner City Press' view: that's how Ladsous has operated on the mass rapes in Minova in the DRC. Will he get away with it in on the issue of child soldiers, in Mali? Watch this site.

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