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On Minova Rapes, ICP's Privacy Question Garners MONUSCO Response: The Roots of #LADSOUS2013

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 3 -- Not only did UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous for four months cover up the 126 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army, his partners -- the UN also reportedly violated the victims' privacy.

  Click here for new video, Roots of #LADSOUS2013, with six refusals of Press questions, three of them on the Minova rapes.

  By contrast, Ladsous has repeatedly refused to name the two Army battalions which were involved in the rapes. The rapists are given privacy by the UN, but the victims reportedly are not.

  On April 30, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky about it:

Inner City Press: It has to do again with these rapes in Minova, but it is a different question; actually, quite different. It is reported in the French publication La Croix that in the course of investigating or looking into the rapes, that MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] staff encouraged doctors to give files of patients without their consent and then brought them a judiciary letter, tbasically doctors are quoted saying that they gave records that they shouldnít have given, that were covered by privacy. I wanted to know, although obviously investigation is important and the battalions still havenít been named, whatís the UNís response to that? You have two competing goods... but are they aware of this allegation that they violated patient privacy and what do they say about it? Do they intend to do it in the future? Have they learned anything from it?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Letís check with MONUSCO.

  But three days later, there was no answer. In fact, on May 2 Ladsous' spokesman Kieran Dwyer gave a five minute justification for Ladsous refusing to answer any of Inner City Press' questions, due to what he called "slurs." Video here.

  Yes, Inner City Press has questioned and reported on Ladsous' speeches and memos during the 1994 Rwanda genocide, when Ladsous was Deputy Permanent Representative of France, refuting those who opposed France helping the genocidaires to escape into Eastern Congo. That's not a slur - that's a fact.

  On May 3, Inner City Press asked the question again at the noon briefing, along with asking if new envoy Mary Robinson was looking into any follow-through on the Minova rapes. Inner City Press put the question to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well.

On Friday afternoon, the following came in:

Subject: Your question on the DRC
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at] un.org
Date: Fri, May 3, 2013 at 3:39 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com

We have the following from MONUSCO:

"In carrying out their investigations on allegations of human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, UN Human Rights Officers are guided by strict guidelines and basic principles that must be followed at all times. Such principles include 'do no harm', meaning that the safety and best interest of the victim always have to be prioritized, the right of victims to privacy and confidentiality and the informed consent of the victims prior to sharing information with a third party. Psychological and physical consequences of sexual and gender-based violence are also taken into account by UN investigators in the process of preparing and conducting human rights investigations, and thus such investigations are regularly coordinated with various partners with medical and psycho-social expertise.

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, is concerned about some inaccuracies contained in La Croix article, including mention to the fact that, under Congolese law, medical staff is allowed to refuse to disclose information to judicial authorities in the context of a criminal investigation. This is false."

   The two paragraphs -- privacy and compulsory provision of medical information -- are contradictory. Given Ladsous' months' long refusal to answer Press questions about the Minova rapes, it is difficult to know how to assess the Mission under his control's allegation of falsity. But we'll try. Watch this site.

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