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On CAR Rapes, UN Said Pansieri "Had" Resigned, Only Now Gilmore Takes Over

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 1 -- The UN's investigation into its cover up of rapes including of children in the Central African Republic by French troops, including that (French) head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous is listed as trying to get the whistleblower fired, was delayed for a second time on November 6, into this month of December -- the 17th, Inner City Press hears.

  On November 27, Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesperson how it was that Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri, of whom it was reported on July 23 by the New York Times, Guardian and others that she “had resigned” -- is still working for the UN human rights office. Inner City Press asked on November 27 about a report quoting her from earlier in the month; the UN Spokesperson's office answered other Press questions but not this one.

  So on November 30 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who replied that it had been said Pansieri would be leaving in December. He quickly turned to other questioners. On December 1, Inner City Press asked again, transcript here:

Inner City Press: Back to Flavia Pansieri and the reason I… yesterday you’d said… I mean, I went back and looked, and it was said in this room on 23 July that she has resigned.  And I think most media accounts reported that she had left and that this was one small piece of accountability for the Central African Republic rapes.  So I’m seeing today… it’s December.  She’s still presently the Deputy High Commissioner.  So what was the… was it mis… did your office always intend to say that she was resigning months down the road or what happened?

Spokesman:  We shared the information that we had, and I hope to have an update on that for you shortly.

  Later on the afternoon of December 1, this:

"United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Kate Gilmore of Australia as Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. She will succeed Flavia Pansieri of Italy, to whom the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights are grateful for her dedicated service to the United Nations human rights programme during the past three years, following a long and distinguished career in the United Nations system around the world. Ms. Gilmore [is] currently Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)"

  The New York Times of July 23 said Pansieri “has resigned from her post, United Nations officials confirmed on Wednesday. The official, Flavia Pansieri, the deputy high commissioner for human rights, based in Geneva, is stepping down for health reasons, said a spokesman for the human rights office.”

  The Guardian on July 22 said that “the UN rights official who admitted not following up for months on allegations of child sexual abuse by French soldiers in Central African Republic has resigned.The UN confirmed on Wednesday that Flavia Pansieri has left the post of deputy high commissioner for human rights “for health reasons”. No more details were given.”

France 24 on July 23: "I can confirm that Flavia Pansieri has resigned and she cited health reasons for her resignation,' UN spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci said."

  But she never left. And there has been no follow up, no updates, no accountability. Ban Ki-moon did not raise the issue of the French Sangaris troops' alleged rapes with Francois Hollande; Ladsous who tried to get the whistleblower Kompass fired remains atop UN Peacekeeping, speaking in that capacity this week. And still the report has not been issued.f

  First it was delayed to November. Then on November 6, UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced it will be pushed back to the third week of December. This is the UN. Inner City Press asked Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: given that this CAR panel is now delayed for a second time and it seems like it's a pretty pressing matter, rape of children in the Central Africa Republic, what is the rationale?  It seems like it is just kicking the can down the road.

Spokesman:  Well, I think nobody would argue with the importance of the focus on the panel, which looks at how we handle allegations of non- UN forces and regarding child abuse.  I think nobody's questioning that and that's why the Secretary-General appointed the panel.  It's independent.  It is up to the panel to decide.  What they have told us and where they've told the Secretary-General is that relevant material and documentation continue to be submitted after the target date, which was earlier this fall and they've asked for an extension.  I think it's not about kicking the can down the proverbial line.  It's about the panel feeling that they've gone through all the information that was submitted to them.

Inner City Press:  And if in December they are still getting information…?
Spokesman:  I can't speak to them.  My sense is that this...… again, I get in trouble when I give times.  My sense is that we are nearing the end, but I think it is a credit to the panel that they are asking for the time to look at all the documentation they received.

  On October 12, one month after UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous linked peacekeepers' rapes in the Central African Republic to "distraction" and R&R, here, Inner City Press  asked Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, and Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, former UN official and lead author of a new Global Study about what Ladsous said, sitting where they were, about rapes and R&R.”

  Both said they hadn't seen Ladsous' comments, so Inner City Press tweeted the YouTube link to @phumzileunwomen and @UN_Women asking for their comments, even as they answered. After Coomaraswamy responded generally about linking rape to recreation, Inner City began to say, Sent you the link -- but was cut off by the UN Women moderator, who said “Let others ask questions.” But there was only one more question.

  Then, Inner City Press showed Coomarswamy the beginning of Ladsous' comments on a laptop. But the UN Correspondents Association sidekick cut in, “Excuse ME,” to ask yet another UN official to come to a $90 fundraiser. This is the same UNCA which took money from South South News then both gave it an award and produced Ban Ki-moon for a photo op with SSN's controller, the now jailed David Ng. This is UN, this is the UN. But what will  Mlambo-Ngcuka and Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy now do about Ladsous' comments?

As of November 6... nothing.

Three days after Inner City Press asked French President Francois Hollande about it, Ladsous appeared for a Q&A stakeout about CAR. Video here.

  After asking CAR's foreign minister about refugees' voting rights, and getting an answer as it has throughout the UN General Assembly week, Inner City Press asked Ladsous of an update on the rapes. He gave none. In fact, he had a staffer instruct the UNTV boom microphone operator to move the mic to the other side. As he left, Inner City Press asked about his R&R comment, which in many countries could get him fire. Not at the UN, at least not yet.

  After Ladsous fled, Inner City Press asked CAR's economy minister if there was any legal proceedings against the peacekeepers accused of rape. She said yes, in CAR - then acknowledged that her government does not even have the names of the accused. What kind of legal procedure? The kind where the defendants have no name.

  Ironically, Ladsous had talked about accountability in his stakeout - but only for Africans, it seems, not the French troops of Sangaris. He'll do a stakeout on another Francophone peacekeeping mission, in Mali, later on October 1. Watch this site.

 On September 28, on the day of the UN Peacekeeping summit at the UN, Inner City Press managed to ask French President Francois Hollande about alleged rapes by French troops in the Central African Republic (CAR) and about French head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous having linked rapes to “recreation” and R&R. Video here.

  Hollande replied that when French troops are charged -- as they have been, in CAR -- France pushes for prosecutions, but also due process. Does that explain the one-year delay in the Sangaris CAR case?  The question was not taken.

  Later on September 28, Inner City Press went to cover the High Level Meeting on Peacekeeping, and found Ladsous slouched in his hair, wanly applauding pledges then glaring up at the photographers booth where Inner City Press was. Something is very wrong at the top of UN Peacekeeping - until it is addressed, the various commitments ring hollow.

A year after French President Francois Hollande tried to privatize the UN Press Briefing Room by having non-French journalists removed, his team on September 27, 2015 adopted a different strategy for the same result. At 8:40 am the UN said there would be a press conference by Hollande in just five minutes, at 8:45 am. Call it innovation.

  Apparently in his press conference, Hollande had many of the seats in the front of the UN Press Briefing Room “reserved” - because Brazil cited this as a precedent for their 11:30 am press conference by Dilma Rousseff (that's another story).  France, returning with Hollande for a session scheduled for 2:15 pm, again tried to control spaces in the front rows, as did the old UN Correspondents Association, which ejected a visiting journalist from “its” seat.

 And the question for Hollande? For Inner City Press, it would be what actions have been taken on the French soldiers alleged to have raped children in the Central African Republic. Watch this site.

Update: After Hollande came in, two people who had sat next to Inner City Press through the entire Japanese briefing from 1:30 pm got up, to give their seat to Laurent Fabuis and Royale. Then a lady approached Inner City Press, in full view of UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, and told Inner City Press to move, she's a "minister." Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access said Non, je suis journaliste, je veux poser ma question.

Meanwhile Ban Ki-moon said Peru's President Humala regretted not being present. But he WAS present, next to Hollande. Inner City Press asked Humala about the Trans Pacific Partnership on September 27: watch this site.

Back on September 23, 2014 the entourage of French President Francois Hollande repeatedly ordered the UN accredited Press to leave the UN's Press Briefing Room.

  A briefing by Hollande had been scheduled for 11 am, then was canceled. But at 10:55 am as a previous briefing about climate change was ending, Inner City Press was told to leave the room.

  The question, On whose orders? was not answered. Instead a woman in the French delegation said the room was "reserved."

   This is not a restaurant, Inner City Press replied, now on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access, which advocates for the rights of journalists and for a Freedom of Information Act covering the UN.

  Another member of the French delegation said loudly, "They'll take away his accreditation." It was not necessarily an idle threat: the UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric had looked into the room as this happened.

   Inner City Press said, if UN Media Accreditation -- or UN Security -- tell me to leave, I will. But not before. Video here.

  Meanwhile the representative of the old UN Correspondents Alliance meekly left; previously, UNCA did nothing when previous French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud in this room told a Lebanese reporter, "You are not a journalist, you are an agent."

  After a time, the woman from Hollande's entourage said that the chief of UN Media Accreditation, whom she made a point of saying she knows well, was not answering the phone. A French security guard told Inner City Press to leave. But this is not their role, in the UN briefing room.

  Finally the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and the new Permanent Representative to the UN came and sat in the front room with Inner City Press and FUNCA.  Hollande appeared from the doorway Spokesman Dujarric had looked out of.

  Hollande said he had come mostly about climate change, but that a French citizen had been taken hostage in Algeria by a group linked with ISIL or "Da'ech," as he called the group. He said arms deliveries would continue; he noted the previous night's air strikes, by others, on Syria.

  Hollande said he would meet in the afternoon with the Syrian Opposition Coalition's Hadi al Bahra, who he called the only legitimate leader of Syria. Then he left without taking questions.

  The day before, UNCA hosted al Bahra (as they had his predecessor Ahmad Jarba) in the clubhouse the UN gives this group, publicized only to those which pay it dues. Given that UNCA did nothing when Araud told the Lebanese reporter "you are not a journalist, you are an agent," why didn't Hollande hold his press conference in the club of UNCA, the UN's Censorship Alliance?


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