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After CAR Rapes, UN Still Works With French Forces, Unlike DRC & FDLR

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 5 -- French soldiers in the Central African Republic allegedly sexually abused children, and after more than nine months, no action has been taken.

 No soldier has been prosecuted. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made that clear when he urges the perpetrators to turn themselves in.

 It now emerges that UN Peacekeeping did not suspend any collaboration with the French forces, unlike its decision to not support the Congolese Army fighting the Hutu FDLR militia in the DR Congo. Both decisions are attributable to UN Peacekeeping chief (and long time French diplomat) Herve Ladsous.

 On May 5 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric to compare the relationships between Ladsous' MINUSCA mission in CAR and the French forces, and his MONUSCO mission and the Congolese Army, with support suspended to fight the FDLR. Video here.

  Dujarric said every relationship is different - clearly - and then when Pressed added that the UN's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, cited by Ladsous to not fight the FDLR, applies "across the board."

 So, Inner City Press asked, how was it applied, or not, to the French forces once the UN had the child rape allegations, nine months ago?

  Dujarric paradoxically said that's under the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services. But OIOS is not in charge of the UN's supposed Human Rights Due Diligence Policy. Ladsous' refusal to answer questions, and misuse of UN Peacekeeping, is bringing UN Peacekeeping to ever-new lows.

On May 1 from Geneva the spokesperson for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zaid, Rupert Colville, sought to explain or bolster the reputations of the Office, and of France.

  At the UN's noon briefing in New York, UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq read out loud from Colville's statement. Inner City Press asked questions, such as had the UN told the CAR authorities what it knew about the rapes, and if not, why not.

  Haq never answered this question. He said that Colville is preparing a timeline -- clearly, Colville knows if OHCHR gave the report to CAR or only to France.

 Inner City Press also asked about the UN's investigation into OHCHR staffer Anders Kompass having leaked information about Western Sahara to the Moroccan government, and why that investigation took so long that leaking continued, to France of its victims' names. Haq would not say which investigation began first, a key point.

  Haq said that Inner City Press was cutting him off, and turned to the representative of the UN Correspondents Association to support him, and then to ask questions of which he approved. The UNCA representative began by saying that who the UN told, and when, wasn't important.

  Haq said, this is how questions are supposed to be asked -- apparently, the questions the UN wants, from the partners it selects, ignoring the UN's own role in problems. It was World Press Freedom Day at the UN; the Free UN Coalition for Access will have more on this.


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