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On Rapes, ICP Asks UN Why Pushed Back Report Due January into March

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 -- Amid a litany of rape charges against UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, Inner City Press on January 27 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Spokesman to confirm new allegations in the Central African Republic by Republic of Congo and DR Congo troops.. The spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, declined. But on February 4, it was confirmed.

 On February 11, Inner City Press exclusively reported and then asked the UN about, member states went to the UN's 38th floor to ask where Ban's response to the issues and Deschamps report is. It was due by the end of January, as Inner City Press has asked.

  Now, the sources told Inner City Press, Ban is trying to delay it until March. Ban in fact wasn't there to meet the member states on February 11 - he is in Canada -- and neither was his Deputy Jan Eliasson. The task fell to Chief of Staff Edmond Mulet, who replaced Susana Malcorra before she issued the promised response. So it goes at the UN.

At the February 11 noon briefing Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: on the sexual abuse allegations,  I want to ask you to confirm that a number of Member States met this morning on the 38th Floor with Mr. Mulet about the still-not-released or completed response to the Deschamps Report.  And I wanted to know, is it true that this is, in fact, now being delayed until March?  And if so, why is that?  A number of them said it's kind of a legacy issue for Ban Ki-moon, and so what can you say to those who would say it was supposed to be the end of January and now it's going into March?  Why is that?

Spokesman:  It's obviously, it's not that it's a legacy issue for the Secretary-General.  It's an issue that is very close to the Secretary-General's heart, and he wants to be very firm in dealing with the issues raised by the Deschamps Report.  I think an important step… a number of steps already have been put into place, whether it's quicker reporting on the ground, whether it's putting the right procedure, you know, improved procedures in the Office of Legal Affairs on how to deal with issues that may arise to make sure that their cases are treated promptly.  As you will have seen, the Secretary-General has appointed Jane Holl Lute to be his sort of coordinator and point person on the issue of sexual abuse within the UN system.  All of that flows from the Deschamps Report.  Obviously, when we are ready to announce things more officially, we will do so, but I think it is something we are working on as quickly as possible and as thoroughly as possible.

Inner City Press: is there some reason for the delay?  Because a number of the people there…

Spokesman:  There are, you know, we've announced a number of steps since the Deschamps Report has come out.

The head of UN Peacekeeping who has on video linked the rapes to R&R, Herve Ladsous, remains in place. The UN has done nothing. Will new French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault belatedly take action on Ladsous, put in place by France as the fourth French head of DPKO in a row? Watch this site.

 More than a week after Inner City Press' January 27 question, and nearly two weeks after the UN learned of the rape charges, the UN announced them on February 4. Dujarric's Deputy Farhan Haq read them out, and Inner City Press asked questions, transcript here.

On January 29, first High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid then this same UN spokesman issues statement about (what else), new rape charges in CAR. But even these lists do not appear to be complete, omitting alleged rapes that UN officials have spoken about involving UN peacekeepers from Burundi, the Republic of Congo and Gabon.

  Inner City Press asked now departing Assistant Secretary General Anthony Banbury about these still unreported cases, and why it was him and not the head of UN Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, who was answering for the charges at the UN's January 29 briefing. Banbury said reporting is getting fast; he also said he “doesn't buy” that anyone fears retaliation if they report sexual abuse charges. Video here.

  Given that even an official at the rank of Ander Kompass was pursued in the UN “legal” system for reporting, the claim seemed strange. Another reporter said it was not credible; the spokeman said that's not a question and the briefing was over.

  Banbury, visibly upset, shed tears during the briefing. But again, why isn't Ladsous as the person responsible, named in the Deschamps report as having failed to vet contingents subsequently charged with rapes, the one answering questions?

  In the briefing, the UN set aside the first question for a representative of the UN Correspondents Association, and then two UNCA board members: none of these questions involved the head of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous. We'll have more on this.

Having been told by sources of more rapes by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, Inner City Press on January 26 reported them and on January 27 asked the UN's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric to confirm them - but wouldn't. UN transcript here. Video here.


  So what is the protocol of UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, who linked the rapes to "R&R," here? How many more do they know about?

The UN report on rapes in the Central African Republic, released on December 17, found that UN Peacekeeping's Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous “illustrate[s] the UN's failure to respond to allegations of serious human rights violations in the meaningful way.”

 Ladsous has yet to take any questions about the report -- this as Inner City Press exclusively hears from sources of yet more sexual abuse cases in CAR, involving DR Congo AND Republic of Congo, and changes of abuses will in detention.

 On January 27, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about these new charges, transcript here.

On January 5, Ladsous mission in CAR issued a press release about yet more allegation of sexual abuse of minors by its peacekeepers, below.

 On January 18, Inner City Press managed to ask UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson about the report -- the UN Deputy Spokesperson appeared intent on not allowing the question, but Eliasson to his credit took it. Video here. , UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: The UK Ambassador mentioned sexual abuse.

DSG: Yes.

Inner City Press: He did. And so I wanted to know…

DSG: I did also.

Inner City Press: So, since that report came out about the Central African Republic, what has the Secretariat or the 38th floor done to ensure that in the future if a UN staffer becomes aware of child rape, that it goes to the right people?

DSG Eliasson: This is very serious. As you know, the Special Representative in Central African Republic resigned, was asked to resign. One of the others who were named by the Deschamps group, panel, was considered to have abused authority has left the United Nations, retired.  And we have a group set up right now, led by the Chef de Cabinet - Edmond Mulet - that is going to work very, very quickly on following up the recommendations of the panel. Mr. Mulet and his group will report to the Secretary-General by the end of this month.

We will look into both issues of individual responsibility, but also primarily on the systemic problems. This reminded me of my reaction to the Sri Lanka tragedy back in 2009. The panel came to the conclusion that it was systemic failure, so we drew the [conclusion] to that – we need to have a systemic response. That was the origin of Human Rights Up Front.  This time also the Deschamps report talks about, almost in the same language – systemic reactions. I also expect, or we also expect, Member States again to draw the conclusions from this.  In so many cases we have passed on to the Member States very damning reports, but very little sometimes has been done by Troop Contributing or Police Contributing countries. So we need to have nation states following up these [inaudible].

  We will have more, too, on DSG Eliasson's reference to the UN's failure in Sri Lanka. At the January 19 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq if Mulet's report at the end of January will be made public. Video here.  We'll see.

Earlier in the month,  Inner City Press asked the Permanent Representative of New Zealand and of Uruguay, President of the Security Council for January, about the report(s). Video here.

 Back in December, once the report came out from under embargo at the noon briefing Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric what Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will do about the findings against Ladsous, and that he escaped the “abuse of authority” moniker only because “the mandate of the Panel is to assess whether an abuse of authority has occurred in connection with the Allegations.”

 Since the abusers Ladsous let into MINUSCA were not the French troops who are accused of rape -- these troops are not in MINUSCA -- Ladsous' malfeasance is not “in connection” with the Allegations. But is it acceptable?

  Dujarric seems unfamiliar with the report; he implied that the third person found to have abused authority was the Ethics Officer, when it was a lower level official in CAR. Inner City Press asked what this all says about Ban Ki-moon's management, along with the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng and Bernardino Leon scandal, a question Dujarric did not allow Inner City Press to asked Ban himself on December 16. “Those are your words,” Dujarric replied. Yes, they are.

  When the Panel's three members held their press conference, Inner City Press asked about Ladsous' failure to vet and his linking of rapes to “R&R.” Video here.  Marie Deschamps said pointedly she wouldn't comment on Ladsous' remarks; Yasmin Sooka said these are crimes for punishment, not recreation.

  As the last question, Inner City Press asked what it had wanted to ask Ban, and tried to ask Dujarric: what does this say about Ban's management? Video of Q&A here. Didn't Ban's chief of staff Malcorra, criticized in the report, do it for Ban? Didn't the “senior official” who ostensibly let the rape information die on the vine in the 38th floor work in an atmosphere created by Ban's nine years? We will pursue this.

And this: if OIOS' Lapointe was wrong, isn't James Finness, who continues the OIOS campaign? While the UK has spoken, where is France, given Sangaris and Ladsous?

  As to Ladsous, the finding was made even though the three authors of the report do not mention, and apparently have not yet seen, the notes from Ladsous' October 1, 2015 meeting about the CAR mission with Burundi's Vice President, in which Ladsous said he is “pragmatic” on human rights, in Burundi and by extension elsewhere, nor Ladsous' September 11, 2015 on-camera comments linking the rapes to “R&R,” video here.

  But Ladsous still as of December 17 holds the senior UN position into which France, which has chosen the last four heads of UN Peacekeeping, put him in September 2011. How much longer?

By contrast, the former head of OIOS Carman Lapointe, of whom the panel finds an abuse of authority, is conveniently gone, as is Babacar Gaye, who worked for Ladsous at the CAR mission.

  Perhaps it was easier for the panel to make the formal finding against people who had already left the UN by the time the report was released.

  One wonders: if responses like Ladsous' legalistic (and largely false) November 2 letter were received so long ago  by the panel, why did they withhold the report all the way until December 17, the day AFTER Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's rare (and last of the year) press conference?

  High Commission Zeid, of whom it is said he was slammed in the report, in fact gets the same treatment -- critical, but no formal abuse of authority -- as Ladsous, who is airbrushed out and conditions access to information and answers about Peacekeeping on positive / false coverage.

 The same finding is made with regard to former Chief of Staff Susana Malcorra. Will the critical language hurt what chance she has, as a non Eastern European, to try to follow Ban Ki-moon as Secretary General?

 More generally, how does all this criticism reflect on the tenure of Ban Ki-moon? The report does not mention the concurrent scandals regarding UN Secretariat documents purchased by now indicted Ng Lap Seng through former President of the General Assembly John Ashe, nor Ban Libya envoy taking instruction and a cushy job with the UAE while representing Ban on and in Libya.

  In December 2015, Ban allowed those who cover him, at least the UN Correspondents Association, to sell seats with him for $6,000. And it is these same who have airbrushed out Ladsous and others.

  The Panelists -- Marie Deschamps, Hassan Jallow and Yasmin Sooka -- leave unnamed a senior officer in Ban Ki-moon's office (finding that he misspoke when he said he had informed Deputy Jan Eliasson), without saying if the officer remains in the same position. We'll have more on this.


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