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As Minova Rapists Brag on BBC, UN's Ladsous Must Answer for This

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 11 -- Now that the more than 100 rapes by Congolese soldiers in Minova back in November have been more widely exposed last night by the BBC, the commanders who should be held to account include not only those in the Congolese Army, but the UN's Herve Ladsous.

  Ladsous openly refused to answer Press questions about the rapes on November 27, December 7 and December 18, when he went so far as to direct his spokesman to seize the UN Television microphone to try to avoid an Inner City Press question about the Minova rapes. Click here for that.

  Now, BBC Newsnight has run a long form piece about the rapes, narrated by Anne Mawathe. Rapists are interviewed, bragging with their faces obscured, saying their commander or Colonel ordered them to rape and participated in the rapes.

  Yet with only three lower level soldiers arrested, Ladsous waived the supposed April 1 deadline for Congolese action. The two battalions given the deadline have still not been named.

  After Inner City Press asked Ladsous on March 8, as he walked into the Security Council, to name the rape battalions, Tim Witcher of Agence France Presse filed a false complaint with UN Security saying that Inner City Press started shouting and “abusing” Ladsous, and that Ladsous did not respond.

  This was a lie. Inner City Press asked which battalions, and Ladsous responded that he was going to the Council to talk about Syria.

  In any event, it is disgusting that AFP has sunk so low as to file a complaint with UN Security leading off with how another more investigative media asked a question about these rapes of Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping.

  As to why Ladsous waived the deadline, especially now when BBC reports only three soldiers have been arrested, Inner City Press once again on April 11 asked:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about, again about these rapes in Minova in, in November. There is an article in the Guardian in the United Kingdom today saying that so, that only three individuals have been arrested by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and I know that Mr. Ladsous has said an ultimatum was given by 1 April and that some undisclosed assurances were given, but given that now it is reported in some detail that only three people have been arrested for a 126 rapes, I am asking, what are the assurances that the UN after having publicly set a deadline, dropped the deadline. What assurances are there?

Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey: Matthew, I have said everything we are going to say on that subject for the time being. If we have anything else, we’ll let you know.

Inner City Press: my question is Ms. Bangura, who publicly announced that she had signed an agreement with the Government of the DRC, is that agreement public? Can the document be seen?

Deputy Spokesperson: I’ll have to check with her office.

Inner City Press: is it related in any to the dropping of the ultimatum, because, you are saying you have nothing to say, but, yes or no,is it the UN’s understanding that only three people have been arrested, and did they drop their ultimatum on that basis? Is that the position?

Deputy Spokesperson: Matthew, I’ll have to check; I don’t have the number of people who were arrested in that particular case. We’ll have to check and get back to you on that.

  It is unclear if Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office check with Bangura's. By close of business Thursday, Inner City Press had heard nothing back from Ban's spokesperson's office, and nothing was inserted into the transcript.

  Inner City Press reached out to Bangura's office, was directed to a communique that does not mention Minova and finally was told that Ladsous' DPKO would answer. Inner City Press explained that this has not happened, then was told to expect something tomorrow.

  Does that mean via another end-around reach out by Ladsous' office to, say, Agence France Presse which filed a UN Security complaint against Inner City Press for him? Or the reading out of some canned statement at the noon briefing? Watch this site.

Footnote: It is now announced that the next of the Department of Public Information's appreciated brown bag session will involved Bangura. The session are one of the few improvements or reforms by the new DPI: meanwhile, twelve simple reforms proposed by the Free UN Coalition for Access have not been replied to, much less implemented.

Was stopping any reform the goal of DPI's March 18 raid on Inner City Press' office, or of the leaking (via an anonymous “Concerned UN Reporter” e-mail account) to BuzzFeed of photographs taken during the raid?

 What is the UN coming to? How it deal not only with the rapes, but with Ladsous and those pressed into his service, will be a litmus test. Watch this site.

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