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As New UN Rapes In CAR Revealed in Feb 11 Emails, UN Says DRC Troops Still In Place

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Must Credit

UNITED NATIONS, February 13 -- Amid a litany of rape charges against UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, Inner City Press exclusively obtained and on February 12 published UN emails showing another round of sexual abuse of minors in Ouaka prefecture in the Central African Republic by UN Peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Click here to view.

 The emails, dated February 11, 2016, describe at least four underage victims, two of whom were impregnated by the rapist UN peacekeepers.

  Middle management at the UN, further up the email chain, notes that the majority of sexual abuse in CAR has been committed by the battalions from the DRC and the Republic of Congo. And so Inner City Press posed these questions to UN spokespeople in both New York and the CAR:

"This is a request for your comment on, and any update on, the sexual abuse and exploitation cases in the Feb 11, 2016 emails now here

Also, what will be done with the Republic of Congo and DR Congo contingents? We are interested in if the UN and DPKO can, as currently be configured, be reformed.What is the status of the sexual abuse and exploitation cases that have been listed, including in the UN Press Briefing Room?"

  The response received by Inner City Press on Saturday afternoon in New York was from Bangui-based MINUSCA spokesman Vladimir Monteiro:

"Regarding your questions on DRC and Congo, here is Minusca's position:

"On DRC contingent, a decision to repatriate them has already been taken. It will be completed without delay by the end of the month. It is just a matter of planning it properly.

"On the 120 troops from Congo, they have been cantoned in Berberati to permit investigations by national investigators before their repatriation to their country  which will occur on 20 February 2016. For further details on this matter please contact HQ."

  But of course Inner City Press has already contacted "HQ" or UN Headquarters, including for example Ismini Palla of Ladsous' DPKO, who gave Agence France Presse the response to questions Inner City Press has publicly posed to UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, to the DPKO spokesman Nick Birnback, also cc-ed.

  So where ARE the updates on the cases the UN's Diane Corner listed in the UN Briefing Room? Why was it reported in early January that the DRC contingent had "been dismissed" when, in mid February, they are still in place? What is the status of the Burundian contingent in CAR? Follow up questions have been submitted to UN officials and spokespeople in CAR and headquarters in New York.

  Well placed sources tell Inner City Press these two countries' soldiers have been in the UN MINUSCA mission nearly entirely due to Ladsous and, more outrageously, the / his French government due to its political relations with the Republic of Congo and DRC.

  Ladsous, as Inner City Press has reported, told Burundi's Vice President that he is "pragmatic" about human rights; even on camera, Ladsous linked the rapes to "R&R," click here for video.

  While Ladsous' DPKO and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Office of the Spokesperson announced that the DRC contingent would be pulled out of Bambari and CAR in late Janaury, Inner City Press is informed this never happened: they are still there.

  Ladsous' DPKO, and now the UN Spokesperson's Office, are engaged in misleading the press and public, and doling out what information they provide to only the friendliest media.

 For recent example, Inner City Press for weekly has reported on and asked about the repatriation from CAR of Burundian troops charged with abuse during the crackdown on opponents of Pierre Nkurunziza's third term. Even after Inner City Press obtained and published on February 9 proof of three repatriations, all UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press is that he would seek an update.

  Simarily, Ladsous' lead spokesman Nick Birnback told Inner City Press DPKO would have something to say about the particular Burundian officers in CAR Inner City Press asked him about.

  Then Ladsous' spokespeople including Ismini Palla gave their limited confirmations to Reuters and Agence France Presse, who published it without credit or context. (Neither media reported on Ladsous linking rape to R&R).

 In a February email by UN official Anthony Banbury, soon to leave the UN after some heartfelt tears of outrage at peacekeepers' rapes, it is said:

"We have a pack of predatory criminals and rapists, preying on young girls,
under the banner of the United Nations. How can we stand by? In my view that battalion should be ordered to cease operations today, same with the RoC battalion, and be confined to camp and guarded full time so they cannot continue to abuse children. While we would pay a short-term price in terms of operations, we would gain so much in terms of the integrity and reputation of the UN, in the CAR and internationally, and we would almost certainly prevent more rapes of minor girls. We simply cannot sustain the argument that the benefit these troops are bringing to the UN and PoC is greater than the harm they are doing."

  What will the UN do? What will France, with new foreign minister Jean Marc Ayrault, do? How long can Ladsous - and the Congolese contingents - remain in place?

Exclusive: UN Emails Show New Rapes in CAR, Ladsous' Contingents by Matthew Russell Lee

  Back 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 about it, UN transcript here.

 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.  Video here.

  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.

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. We'll have more on this.


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