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On CAR Rapes Report, Zeid Skips Stakeout for Gray Lady, Ladsous in Hiding?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 23 -- The UN report on rapes in the Central African Republic, released on December 17, finds 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.” It is also critical of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein.

  While Ladsous, typically, hasn't taken any questions about his role, not only from Inner City Press but apparently from anyone else, on December 22 UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq announced that Zeid al Hussein would be appearing that afternoon at the UN Security Council stakeout, for Q&A.

  Inner City Press ran to the Security Council -- but when Zeid al Hussein left the Council Chamber, he walked past the stakeout. Later Inner City Press was told this was because he had the flu.

  Now Zeid's counter-move to the report, saying that all OHCHR staffers have to report allegations of sexual abuse directly to him so he is not surprised by seeing it in the media, appears in the Paper of Record a/k/a Gray Lady.

 Zeid al Hussein should have, and should, take wider questions on this. Unless he is "going Ladsous."

 Or going OIOS. Back on December 18, Inner City Press asked the UN:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you again about yesterday’s released Central African Republic report.  What I wanted to ask, in reading it more closely, that given the finding about the now left the UN head of OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight Services)… first of all, can you say… you answered yesterday that Mr. [Anders] Kompass is still under investigation.  Given how pretty definitive the report is, is he under investigation in connection with the release of the CAR report or with the Western Sahara allegations or…

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:  I have no… I don’t have those details.

Inner City Press:  Given that Miss [Carman] Lapointe’s deputy, Mr. [Michael] Stefanovic, recused himself and spoke out basically against what she was doing and that a Mr. Finness continued, is there any… of Mr. Finness is the third one down…

Spokesman:  I don’t think Mr. Stefanovic is her deputy.  He’s the investigator chief.

Inner City Press:  Exactly.  I guess what I’m saying is the finding… I mean, for example, they looked at this chief of staff of Ban Ki-Moon and not Ban Ki-Moon.  They looked at her activities at the meeting in Turin, in setting up the meeting, whether if it was appropriate or not.  In the case of OIOS, is it… the things that OIOS did, is it entirely contributable to Ms. Lapointe or are they the continuing?  Is the continuing of the investigation of Mr. Kompass consistent with the directive of the report?

Spokesman:  The investigation, as far as I know, is continuing.  And I’m not going to analyse the rest of your question.

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.

Only this week, 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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