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On Syria as on Darfur Rapes Covered Up by UN, HRW Goes With Censors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 24 -- When the UN's Syria Commission of Inquiry took questions about their report on February 20, it was at the UN Security Council stakeout. Inner City Press asked the Kurds, the Free Syrian Army and the Coalition's airstrikes, video here and see below. At least it was a UN stakeout, just as Chair Pinheiro has previously taken questions in the UN Press Briefing Room.

   But others play a different game inside the UN. 

  As we noted on February 11, Human Rights Watch in reporting on the Tabit rapes in Darfur did not even mention the head of UN Peacekeeping, whose UNAMID mission covered up the rapes on November 9, and who previously stonewalled on rapes by the DR Congo Army in Minova.

 HRW "launched" its Tabit report in the clubhouse of the UN Censorship Alliance, UNCA, which has tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, FOIA document here.

  Why not hold a regular press conference, in the UN's Room S-237? Many NGOs do it. But HRW likes to cavort with the censors.

  Recently Inner City Press noted that HRW was meeting with the US State Department's Nisha Biswal, and publicly asked whether HRW would be raising the violence and now censorship in Bangladesh. No answer. Same thing on HRW's Ken Roth's meetings with Ban Ki-moon.

  We again ask, why is Human Rights Watch, which alongside its detailed work goes out of its way not to criticize the UN and especially Ladsous, for example on Central African Republic, as Inner City Press reported here, partnering to hold another privatized event, this time on Syria, not in the UN Press Briefing Room but among friends, as they say?

 Why have HRW and its hosts said nothing about posts in UN Peacekeeping under Ladsous being sold for money, exclusively exposed by Inner City Press on February 7, asked about February 9, and partially answered by the UN on February 10, here?

  Any country can sponsor such a briefing in the UN Press Briefing Room. But HRW hides behind and in the clubhouse of the UN Censorship Alliance, Board members of which in the past have ordered changes to articles about Ladsous - and about Sri Lanka, more here. Human rights? Hardly.

 HRW also only sends out its reports and even canned quotes only to friendly journalists. So we link here to the CoI's report (here).)

   Of this report, back on February 11, Inner City Press asked the Commissioners if, beyond the Government, Nusra and ISIS they cataloged abuses by the Kurds, Free Syrian Army or even Coalition.

 It was Vitit Muntarbhorn who answered for the other Commissioners, saying, We cover all sides: the authorities, their colleagues so to speak, the non-state armed groups in their variety, we cover the Kurds as well. One recurrent issues is the use of child soldiers particularly under ISIS.

  What about the Coalition? And the Free Syrian Army which is listed even by the UN as recruiting child soldiers?

 The other Commissioners, all present, are Paulo SÚrgio Pinheiro (Chair), Karen Koning AbuZayd and Carla del Ponte. Given her history with Kosovo, one wanted to ask her about the new organ trafficking allegations against ISIS in Iraq. But the rule was, Syria only.

  Similarly, the UN's monthly report on humanitarian access in Syria was not placed as before in the UN Spokesperson's Office for all, but only to some.

  Not (yet) asked is how to square this ninth released Syria CoI report with High Commissioner Zeid's recommendation this week to withhold a similar report about the 40,000 people killed in Sri Lanka in 2009.
  What did Human Rights Watch say about that? We'll have more on this.

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