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As France Covers Up CAR Rapes, UN Spox Reads All About It, Action in DC, ICC & UNSC?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up on Exclusives

UNITED NATIONS, January 5 -- French soldiers accused in detail of sexual abuse of children in the Central African Republic have all been cleared by French prosecutors. Given the obvious cover up, or failure of the French justice system, will the International Criminal Court get involved in this crime of war?

   When the crimes were first revealed by whistleblower Anders Kompass, the reaction of just-left Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's UN was to have Kompass fired. This was the retaliation for which Ban Ki-moon's UN became known. So the UN's hands are by no means clean in this cover up.

   Kompass is Swedish, and Sweden is the President of the UN Security Council this month. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom was previously the UN's expert on sexual violence in conflict. 

  It would be well within their rights to call for a meeting about this failure of accountability systems, as such a meeting - or open debate - could be called. That and the ICC -- and hearings in capitals like Washington -- are among the suggestions of the Free UN Coalition for Access.

Also to be considered: the role of French head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, who linked the rapes in CAR to... R&R.

On January 5, Inner City Press asked holdover UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the French (non) action, and he said he's read an interesting article about it in his native French. Video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: the French judicial inquiry into Sangaris, Central African Republic peacekeepers charged with sexual abuse of minors, has resulted in no charges at all.  And throughout this process, you'd said that the UN is watching it but leaves it up to the French authorities.  Given the level of detail that people came forward and people have seen the memos that Mr. [Anders] Kompass, who was fired, released, what does the UN think of a judicial process that results in no accountability whatsoever…?

Spokesman:  You know what?  I read in detail the rather long and interesting piece published in France.  From what I gather, the… it is now up to the prosecutor to decide whether or not to go forward, with the investigative judges having submitted their results.  So, obviously, we'll keep an eye on this.  But it's… as we've said, it is the responsibility of Member States to fully investigate and hopefully prosecute crimes.  The fight against impunity for these horrendous actions has to be a partnership between the UN and Member States, and we hope every case is fully and thoroughly investigated.

Inner City Press:  What's the status of the… the 25 Burundian cases referred by OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight Services) back to the Government, given the UN's decision to bring in 800 more Burundian peacekeeper…

Spokesman:  If my understanding is correct, they still have some time with which to submit information back to us, and we look forward to receiving that information.

In April 2016, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about inaction on sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, UN retaliation against whistleblowers and what US Senator Bob Corker called Ban's inept response.

Dujarric was dismissive - and days later, Inner City Press was evicted from its long time UN office, and required to have UN escorts or minders to cover UN General Assembly meetings including budget meetings.

  On November 9, after the US election, Inner City Press tried to ask Ban (Vine here) and did ask his spokesman Dujarric about Corker's criticism and whether anyone charged with sexual abuse has, in fact, been convicted or even prosecuted. Dujarric said only the the UN's “reporting systems” have improved.  Video here.

   Notably, the US Mission to the UN, which did nothing about the UN's eviction of Inner City Press when the Government Acountability Project asked it to, has also done little on UN rapes, except praise what it calls Ban's “zero tolerance” policy. We'll have more on this.

Back on July 28, Senator Bob Corker the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which the UN told it has "no record" about evicting Inner City Press while telling Nobel winner Jose Ramos Horta it has an "internal report," put out this statement:

"I am horrified by allegations that U.N. peacekeepers witnessed women and girls being raped and failed to act. The U.N. must get to the bottom of these reprehensible charges immediately, and if true, swift and forceful action must be taken. The U.N. has shown a callous disregard for actions such as these, and we must use every tool available to end these abuses. Our nation’s leadership at the U.N. must immediately use its influence to restore accountability and oversight of peacekeeping missions, which are being subsidized by American taxpayers. Peacekeepers continuing to fail to protect the most vulnerable, including when security forces use rape as a weapon of war on innocent civilians, fundamentally violates why they are there and must not be tolerated.”

On the UN watching rapes, Inner City Press got a quote from the UK on July 28. Where is the US Mission to the UN, on this as on the UN's retaliatory Press eviction?


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