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As UN Conceals When It Invokes Immunity, Request for Data by India, ICP Asks PGA, SG

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video

UNITED NATIONS, October 10 – The UN, which invokes its immunity to evade responsibility for cholera in Haiti, rape in Bangui and censorship in New York, also has no Freedom of Information Act. This obscures even the UN's refusals to waive immunity. On October 6 in the UN's Sixth (Legal) Committee India made a request for such information. The Indian Mission's Yedla Umasankar said, "It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such
cases can be prosecuted by the host governments. We would like to have following data from the Secretariat: i. Total number of registered cases of serious misconduct committed by UN personnel; ii. Total number of cases where the host government asked for waiver of immunity of UN personnel; iii. Total number of cases where the UN refused to waive the immunity of their personnel; iv. Total number of cases where UN asked the sending state/host state to prosecute its personnel;
v. Total number of cases where UN consulted the sending state before waiver of the
immunity of their personnel; and vi. How many of cases where sending state refused to accept the request of the UN for waiver of the immunity of their national.
" On October 9 Inner City Press asked the spokesman for the President of the General Assembly, and on October 10 asked the UN Secretariat's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: last Friday, the representative of India in the Sixth Committee asked for some information from the Secretariat specifically on what you were just talking about, immunity, asking for data of total number of registered cases of serious misconduct conducted by UN personnel and whether the UN waived immunity or didn't.  I tried to ask Brenden yesterday, but I didn't hear back from him. Spokesman:  I'll check. 
Inner City Press:  Is the Secretariat going to provide the information? Spokesman:  I'll check with… Inner City Press: And could you provide it publicly? Spokesman:  I will check. Five hours later, nothing. Days after UN cholera victims told Inner City Press in Haiti that the "community projects" UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described to the Press would be useless to them, Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric dodged questions about what the victims said, from Inner City Press. Video hereNow the UN has again hidden behind immunity for killing 10,000 in Haiti with cholera, getting another case dismissed in Federal court in Brooklyn. This while the UN ignores and covers up the six guilty verdicts in the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case, claiming despite the evidence that the UN was the victim and should get paid. Shameful. On August 24, Inner City Press asked Antonio Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about another disparity: paying some victims, but not Haitians, never Haitians. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: on South Sudan, the UN’s own Radio Miraya has confirmed that a WFP [World Food Program] plane crashed into a house and a child was killed.  So, obviously, that’s a tragedy, but what I wanted to ask you about is it quotes the, the UN’s Adnan Khan said the UN would provide support to the grieving family, which is commendable.  I don’t know if it means financial support.  And, if it does, that’s also good.  But, obviously, people, for example, in Haiti are left wondering, what is the… what’s the… how is the decision made when a death is, is said to be attributable to the UN, people being compensated and… or not being compensated? Spokesman:  I think they’re, they’re two different issues.  The issue surrounding Haiti has been litigated.  Our position has been clear.  Our focus right now is on combatting cholera in Haiti and giving support to those communities impacted. WFP has confirmed that a 5-year-old girl was killed when one of its planes that had just done some airdrops landed at the airport in very bad weather.  It’s extended its condolences to the family, and it will provide all possible support to them...Inner City Press: It’s definitely a tragedy… What my question is, by you referring to litigation, is it, like, if this family litigated, then they wouldn’t be compensated…? Is there a SOFA in place?  Is there a status of forces agreement with a compensation panel… Spokesman:  "There’s a SOFA in place, and obviously, there needs to be an investigation.  What WFP is doing is providing some immediate support, and then the, it will run its course." The US nominated its UN Deputy Permanent Representative Michele Sison, formerly Ambassador to Sri Lanka, to be its next Ambassador to Haiti. In the time of MINUJUSTH. We'll have more on this. On July 13 a General Assembly resolution was passed, one that still does not ensure any individual restitution to families injured, with death, by the UN's cholera. After Voice of America reported that the "General Assembly passed a resolution Thursday to transfer unused funds from the peacekeeping mission in Haiti to help fight a cholera epidemic" under the headline "UN Approves Use of Unspent Funds on Haiti's Cholera Epidemic," Inner City Press asked if this is true. It is not. The UN has raised only $2.67 million, compared to the $400 million Ban Ki-moon spoke about. Inner City Press asked Ban's and now Guterres' spokesman Dujarric if any money will go to the families injured by cholera. There was no clear answer. #SellTheUNmansion - more on this to come. In introducing the resolution, Jamaica's Ambassador said "The crisis spawned by the introduction and spread of cholera in Haiti, which stemmed from the actions and inactions of the United Nations, is not one to which we can turn a blind eye. It stands starkly as a stain against the good name of the United Nations." This on a day that in US Federal Court, where the UN insisted on immunity for its cholera, the way the UN was bribed and bought by Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng was made even clearer - and Duajrric refused to answer Inner City Press' questions about it. On Haiti, without Dujarric announcing it, the UN has quietly disclosed yet another case of sexual abuse, alleged against UN Police from Bangladesh. @InnerCityPress tweeted photo here. As noted, there is also yet another case in the Central African Republic against a peacekeeper for "the Congo." But while Inner City Press asked Antonio Guterres' two top spokesman about this on July 2, "of the two new sexual exploitation and abuse complaints on the website, please explain why the one in Haiti is being investigated by OIOS, while the most recently listed one in CAR is not," the one line answer given was only to defer disclosing where Guterres was (Lisbon), with NOTHING about the new UN child sexual abuse in Haiti. Even the Congo CAR case, the UN answered on over the weekend: "On Saturday, a UN spokesperson confirmed that a new allegation had been registered against the Congolese but declined to clarify if the recorded case of sexual exploitation took place before or after the stated withdrawal of the battalion. 'The allegation was recorded in June [...] an investigative process has been launched as per standard procedures,' Sophie Boudre, a spokesperson for Department of Peacekeeping operations" told AJE. So the UN only answers some media. Or, only some part of the UN - pointedly NOT Antonio Guterres' main spokespeople - answer, even on Haiti. Where is Guterres on this? Nowhere - on July 5, after being back at the UN for less than a day, Guterres left again. In the interim his Security targeted Inner City Press and it was banned from staking out his "reform" speech, here. And his holdover spokesman Dujarric had no answer at noon, nor by six pm afterward. From the UN transcript: I'd asked and your deputy by mail just a couple of times, it has to do with the new sexual exploitation and abuse allegations in the database.  And what I wanted to know is, one of them is in Haiti and says child, the alleged perpetrators from Bangladesh, and it says 'pending, OIOS investigation.'  The other one is in the Central African Republic by the Congo, presumably Republic of Congo, no OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] listed.  Is there some… what's the reason that some allegations are investigated by OIOS?  And can you provide, particularly in the case of the Congo one, given the repatriation, when did it occur?

Spokesman:  "We'll try to get you a bit more details.  We're obviously, we're being as transparent as possible putting these allegations up as soon as they, as they occur.  As you know, there is a procedure where we ask the country to send an investigative, to help us with the investigation.  I'll send you… I'll give you more details as soon as I have them." Past 7 pm, after Inner City Press reported the exchange Duajrric's office sent this: "In response to your question at the noon briefing, we refer you to this page which provides further information on investigations into allegations: Regarding the allegations on an alleged incident in the Central African Republic which you asked about, we are awaiting the results of the investigation." The site intones, "It is important that investigations into allegations of possible misconduct are thorough and conducted in a timely manner, with sensitivity to any potential victims. Investigations can be carried out by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) or investigative entities in the mission, including the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), Military Police, United Nations Police and ad-hoc panels." But this doesn't explain why the Haiti case is under OIOS and the other under... no one?  
On June 30 Inner City Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: in the Council, there was the report on  the Council's visit to Haiti. [Periscope here.]  And the issue of cholera came up.  The re-investor reported, I guess, what was heard inside the meeting.  Outside the meeting was… things were… were spicier still in terms of the UN, you know, not living up to what people believe was said.  I've seen a picture of Josette Sheeran briefing, I guess, at the Canadian Mission.  Is it possible in early July to get her here to describe what her work's going to be and…

Spokesman:  We can see what we can do.

Inner City Press: to your knowledge, has anything been raised or does she have a position on individual reparations? [@InnerCityPress also asked on Twitter, here.]

Spokesman:  We'll see what we can do.

  Past 4 pm, nothing, even as approved peacekeeping mission budgets were still being withheld. On June 28 Inner City Press asked Dujarric if Guterres' supposedly "new" approach to the cholera the UN brought to Haiti meant he will continue to seek impunity. From the UN transcript: at least two federal court cases about the UN having introduced cholera to Haiti.  In this case that's in Brooklyn, where they're arguing that… that the UN essentially waived the immunities that it's claiming by having a mechanism to deal with negligence, which I think most people would say this was, as opposed to intentional, is there anything in the new Secretary-General's new approach to cholera that will be reflected in a response, or is it the UN's continuing response that it bears no legal responsibility at all?

Spokesman:  Our legal position is unchanged.  The UN's effort as outlined by the Secretary-General is focusing on preventing the spread or resurgence of cholera in Haiti and helping communities in a first instance.

Inner City Press: And what's the status of his discussions with countries about the $40 million that…?

Spokesman:  I've nothing more to say than what the Secretary-General himself announced.

 From the UN's June 27 transcript: Inner City Press: in Haiti, as the Security Council made its trip, various people approached the… the Press that was part of the trip and said very clearly that they interpreted what Amina Mohammed and Mr. [António] Guterres had said as a retrenchment, as a stepping back from the idea of possible individual reparations that was in the November 2016 report by then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.  And one gentleman, 57 years old, who has had cholera and his spouse died, said: "Community projects are useless to me, do nothing for me."  And I wanted to understand more clearly,  Farhan [Haq] ended up saying that there's still some consideration of  individual reparations.  That's not really the way that I read what the Secretary General said.  What is the current thinking of the Secretary-General on attempting to make at least some type of reparatory payment to people whose relatives got cholera and died and have to educate their children?

Spokesman:  First of all, our hearts go out to all the people who suffered from the cholera epidemic, either personally or through the loss of loved ones.  I think the Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General were very clear in outlining the way forward.  The focus will be initially on community-based projects, and we're taking things one step at a time.  But, I can't really go any further than what the Secretary-General himself said.

Inner City Press: But, he seemed to say that individual was not being considered.

Spokesman:  Things are progressing.  We're taking things one step at a time. 

  So what has been the United Nations' real impact on Haiti? There will be longer answers to that questions - watch this site - but for now a vignette. After two days of speed meetings with the President, parliamentarians, police trainers, proud peacekeepers from India and Brazil, some civil society reps followed by businessmen with flash drives, a UN bus raced over ragged streets on June 24.

Inside, European staffers of the UN's MINUSTAH mission fretted about the addition of a vague paragraph about the cholera the UN brought in a statement soon to read out at the MINUSTAH Logistics Base. Outside the bus, Haitians pushing heavy cartloads of fruit, riding in in backs of pickup trucks pushed ot the side by the UN convoy, stared out, some in anger. The Press, along for the ride, heard the day before from residents of Cite Soleil who lost relatives to the cholera the UN brought, with criminally negligent inattention to sanitation for troops brought in from a cholera hot-spot in Nepal, who got cholera themselves. “The UN has to pay for this,” one said. “What good would a community plaza be fore me?” But it is community projects that new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is offering, as he told Inner City Press back in UN headquarters. The Security Council delegation that visited Haiti June 22-24 repeated over and over they support the Secretary General's “new” approach. But what is new about it? We'll have more on this.  When the UN Security Council visited Haiti's Presidential Palace on Thursday, they heard about the cholera the UN brought, specifically that the $40 million remaining in the MINUSTAH mission's budget should remain behind. On Saturday morning, the Security Council's president for June Sasha Sergia Llorentty Soliz held a press conference at the MINUSTAH mission's "Log-Base." Periscope video here. Inner City Press asked him about the UN cholera victims it has spoken with the day before, who said that the UN must pay individual reparations, not community project that are of no use to them. He said that messages had been heard. We will follow up on this in New York - and in Haiti on the intimidation and under-payment of judges. The Security Council got a briefing from India's Assam Rifles, complete with a slide about the unit's history in Sri Lanka. (More on that to follow). Outside, rifles and riot suppression equipment was displayed. A short bus ride led to the Brazilian camp, fruit juices and what felt like the wrap up of the visit. Should UN peacekeeping contingents buy more of what they use from the countries they deploy to? More on this to follow, too. Back on Friday when the Security Council met at the country's Cour de Cassation, invitee Massillon told them and then the Press that some judges in Haiti can't even afford any law books, work surrounded by garbage and are subject to intimidation and corruption. Another invitee told Inner City Press that while Massillon "said what had to be said," he had offended UN Envoy Sandra Honore with his criticism of MINUSTAH's performance. Who will head MINUJUSTH? (In a bad joke, some call it Mini-Jupe or mini-skirt, as some in the Congo have ajudge MONUSCO to be MONUSELESS.) We are putting Massillon's and a colleague's later audio up on sound-cloud; Inner City Press asked again about Haitian judges' paltry salaries. Earlier on Friday there was a protest while the Security Council met with the "private sector." A bus full of UN cholera victims was pressured to leave - but then returned, along with advocate Mario Joseph, and spoke with the Press. Long Periscope with Mario Joseph near the end here; second Periscope turned into YouTube here. Uniformly, the call was for individual reparations. Of a 57 year old victim who can now barely walk it was asked, what good would a community plaza do for him? But that is what the UN, when Inner City Press last asked, is offering. Done with the private sector, the Security Council drove a short way to the Cour de Cassation. The UN stands for justice? Cholera was less pointedly raised after the meeting with President Moise by his acting (for a day?) foreign minister, and was the subject of the sole questioner allowed. Video here. Friday when after a closed door meeting with Parliamentarians - the Army came up, wit the US - the Security Council had lunch with invited civil society members, there was a place set for cholera advocate Mario Joseph, next to Camille Chalmers. At first he wasn't there, and those who'd specifically invited him wondered why. Then he rolled in. But the Press was already told to wait outside, under a beautiful red flowering tree, and wait for the "private sector" to arrive. Earlier on Friday, the Security Council drove uphill to the Parc de Martissant and each placed a white rose at the earthquake memorial. FOKAL President Ms Duvivier brought up the UN's cholera and how little money the UN has raised; the artist Ms. Monnin explained her hanging heads of concrete and metal, with shattered mirrors on top. It spoke for itself. A small drone buzzed overhead. At the Council's next meeting, the Press was not even left in for five minutes. Earlier the delegation was escorted (run-up Periscope here) to the Haitian National Police School, where just as a meeting including the Prime Minister began, the Press was ushered out. For now, tweeted photo here. In the School courtyard, roosters could be heard crowing, and cadets singing during training. "Vous est journaliste?" a man asked, hand on his sidearm. Oui, je suis journaliste. Nothing yet on cholera, except finally some talk of new UN (part-time) envoy Josette Sheeran and her past. We'll have more on this.  On this too: in the MINUSTAH mission the talk is of re-applying for posts in the new, smaller MINUJUSTH replacement set to start October 16, 2017. The UN's presence become routinized. There is a former star of the UN Budget Committee, now working on political affairs; there's Security from other Security Council trips - one in which a UN Security officer fired a bullet inside the UN plane, leaving Ambassadors and the press on a bus ride from Goma to Kigali in Rwanda. There are long-time UN communications people and ex-pat journalists. There is a dismissive or perhaps fatalistic view of those Haitians protesting the UN's presence and impact. Then there are Haitians striving, setting up small businesses in nooks and crannies by the side of the road, while French business people fly in for contracts, assisted by their country's ambassador Elisabeth Beton, who spoke June 22 on TV Metropole about Bollore, Total and Suez. What is the UN's role in this? After the June 22 meeting, Haiti's acting foreign minister spoke on cholera, that the $40 million unspent by MINUSTAH should remain in-country. But will it? In the UN Budget Committee there's talk against it, as a bad precedent. Wasn't bringing cholera, and then denying it for six years, a worse precedent? Sui generis. Earlier on Thursday morning, the country's booming voiced Ambassador to the UN was at the airport to greet the Council members. Protests, too, awaited - although MINUSTAH staff, and a Haiti-based European journalist, mocked the protest as small.  In the minibus that took the Council members up into the hills to the Royal Oasis Hotel, the talk was of the wind-down of the MINUSTAH mission, begun after the ouster of President Aristide in 2004, of access for interpreters but barely - five minutes at each meeting? - for the press. a meeting was held with the UN Country Team.  The Press was ushered about amid generic statistics from the Deputy SRSG. Civil society, however, has been chiming in with the Press. When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres held a press conference on June 20, Inner City Press about the UN having brought cholera to Haiti under his predecessor Ban Ki-moon but now reneging even on what Ban belatedly proposed for individual reparations. Inner City Press mentioned upcoming protests in Haiti that it will be covering from there, June 22 and 23, accompanying the UN Security Council mission which took off from JFK airport early on June 22. Photo here, Periscope video here. Guterres announced that he was just then - minutes later the announcement went out - naming as a new special envoy on Haiti Josette Sheeran, formerly the director of the UN World Food Program and now the head of the Asia Society. Video here. Transcript here. He seemed to say the UN was never going to compensate individuals or families impacted by the cholera the UN brought. And the demands are for more than that: here's a sample list, in advance of the protest(s): "1. Close the MINUSTAH acknowledging its failure
2. Cancel the MINUJUSTH articulated following the ques Chapter 7 is a contradiction with the mandate defined
3. re-articulate globally the concept of relations between the UN and Haiti and especially among Latin American countries and Haiti. Recalling the generous internationalist commitment of the founders of our country and concrete, substantial and decisive solidarity offered to Miranda and Simon Bolivar
4. Launch a process of compensation, justice and reparation contemplating the numerous victims and destruction caused by this military occupation of 13 years.
5. Compensate victims of rape, men, women and children were raped or processes used in sexual exploitation
6. Support the thousands of women who have babies and children / children without parents because soldiers and police of MINUSTAH left without parents assume their responsibilities without leaving their addresses
7. compensate the families of citizens / citizens killed by the introduction of cholera by Nepalese MINUSTAH troops. We're talking about at least 20,000 bodies (the official figure underestimated speaks of nearly 10,000 dead)
8. Compensate survivors were infected by cholera by but did not die but their lives were severely affected (we're talking about more than 800,000 people)
9. To compensate the country for the huge economic losses caused by the presence of cholera during these long 7 years.
10. Invest to universalize access to drinking water for the entire population
11. To strengthen the system of public health and sanitation." On June 21 Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to clarify.
UN Video here, from Minute 16:21. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: this was something that the Secretary-General said on the record when I asked him about the seeming change in the cholera in Haiti plan.  And he said that that policy was announced by his predecessor and had two dimensions; one is fighting cholera, and the other is the possibility to support communities impacted.  It was devised not as individual support.  And just, since then, I went back and actually looked at the November A/71/620 document, and there’s a whole section on individual support.  It was called track 2B.  So I just wanted to--

Deputy Spokesman:  And I was here at the time.  And I remember the discussions that the former Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, had about this.  And, at that point, it was not determined whether it would be individual or community-based.  Even at that point, I believe the discussion was towards community-based.  So that’s something that’s… a process that’s been crafted.

Inner City Press:  I wish I’d had that document in front of me when he answered, because there are many people that are in Haiti that have seen the new announcement made by Amina Mohammed as a retrenchment, as a taking back of that before even consulting people.  Mario Joseph and others have put out a press release; they’re protesting on Thursday.  So I wanted to just get your quote before that protest, that at one time the idea of individual reparations to people harmed by cholera was in a UN document as being considered and it’s now not being considered at all?

Deputy Spokesman:  I wouldn’t say that it’s not being considered at all.  And I wouldn’t say that initially it was something that was devised as the primary idea.  This is something that’s been under consideration.  It remains under consideration, but the primary focus, for reasons that were described at the end of last year and again at the start of this year, have been community-based.  And if you look at what Ban Ki-moon said in December, again, it mentions the community-based approach.

  But the UN document in November 2016 has a Track 2B, individual. Here's the beginning of the press release for the protests: "Port-au-Prince: Haitian cholera victims and their advocates called on the UN Security Council to deliver on the promise of a new, victim-centered approach to cholera during its visit to Haiti this week, by meeting directly with victims and committing to funding the $400 million initiative before MINUSTAH --the peacekeeping mission that caused the cholera epidemic—pulls out in October. 'The UN’s apology and promises were promising in December,' said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) that has led the fight for justice for cholera victims. 'But seven months later, with only a pittance raised for the so-called "New Approach" and not a single promised consultation with the cholera victims, they look like empty public relations gestures. It is time for the UN to deliver.' The 15-member Security Council is in Haiti from June 22-24 to finalize the transition from MINUSTAH to a new mission focused on supporting justice that will be known as MINUJUSTH. The BAI announced two protests during the visit: one at the UN logistics base in Haiti on Thursday at 11 am, and a second one in Champs de Mars on Friday at 11." We'll have more on this: Inner City Press will be accompanying and covering, in as much detail as possible, the UN Security Council's visit to Haiti from June 22 to 24. Watch this site.

Footnote: on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, to which Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric does NOT "lend" the briefing room and which has never and will never ask for a journalist to be thrown out or restricted, Inner City Press urged Guterres to more routinely take questions, for example on his way in and out of the Security Council. We'll see.


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