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In South Sudan, UN Helps State Broadcaster Despite Ladsous Pledge

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 -- On South Sudan a year ago on March 18, 2014, UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous told the Security Council, "UNMISS would suspend activities dedicated to extending State authority."

  But now UNMISS is using its equipment - and its Japanese engineering unit - to do construction work on the compound of state broadaster South Sudan TV -- even as the UN Human Rights Council hear from High Commissioner Prince Zeid how press freedom is declining in South Sudan.

 So on March 13 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here:

Inner City Press: On South Sudan, it’s now reported that the Mission, UNMISS, was performing construction work on the State-owned broadcaster South Sudan TV, so some see it as inconsistent with the statement by Mr. Ladsous a year ago that the Mission would no longer be working in support of extending Government—

Spokesman Dujarric:  Well, let’s… let us check on the veracity of the report.

Inner City Press:  On UNMISS’s website, there are pictures of that.  But I also… when do you respond, if you do respond, there’s also a theory under which it’s inconsistent given criticisms of the deterioration of the freedom of expression in South Sudan and this is a State broadcaster—

Spokesman:  Obviously, and this is an issue that the SRSG has spoken about.

  And? Five hours later, there was nothing from Dujarric's office, and certainly not from that of Ladsous, who refuses Press questions, here and here.

Back on February 27 after UN Spokesman Dujarric read out a vague summary of the UN's investigation into the deadly downing of one of its helicopters in South Sudan last August, Inner City Press asked for specifics:

Inner City Press: you said that they were unable to determine who did it, that it came from an area between In Opposition and the Government.  But there was this audiotape of Peter Gadet threatening the UN to shoot down helicopters that was… you know, days before it was shot down.  So, can you say or find out whether these Board of Inquiry people listened to the audio and whether they found it not credible or… why it's not part of the report?

Spokesman Dujarric:  They had all the information that was available to them.  As a general point, a threat is a threat.  I think what they were looking at is for hard evidence to figure out who had shot the helicopter, they were not able to come in with any conclusive information.

Inner City Press: Do they use a different standard of proof than even a court because usually like it seems like --

Spokesman:  A Board of Inquiry tries to establish what happened.  Obviously, they looked at the helicopter and all the information they had.  That's the conclusion they came up with.

  But why? Beyond Gadet, the International Crisis Group, for example, implies that the government itself shot the copter down:

"an UNMISS helicopter was shot down on 26 August, killing three. Although the results of its investigation have not been released, initial reports suggest this was done from territory controlled by the government and by a weapons system know to be in the hands of the government [n. 100:  Crisis Group interviews, UN officials, Nairobi, November 2014; defence and security adviser, Nairobi, December 2014.]"

  For UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous to remain silent is consistent with its approach to the Tabit rapes in Darfur, the Minova rapes in November 2012 by the DR Congo Army, and the shooting at unarmed protesters in Haiti (to say nothing of the killing by cholera there.)


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