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UN Experts Urge Transparency on Drone Deaths, UN Peacekeeping Withholds

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 29 -- After the US said it will review the deaths of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto by drone strike, the UN on April 29 announced that four of its Special Rapporteurs said the report should be released, subject to narrow national security exemptions.

 "The experts stressed that, subject to redactions on the grounds of legitimate national security, their results must be open to public scrutiny, and, where appropriate, adequate reparation to victims and their families must be offered," the UN said.

  But the UN itself doesn't live up to this. When UN Peacekeepers in Mali this year killed three civilians, the UN never released the report, and UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous refused to answer basic Press questions about it. Video here, Vine here.

  When Inner City Press asked the Office of the UN Spokesperson about this withheld report, and another one about UN Peacekeepers shooting at unarmed demonstrators in Haiti, the excuse for withholding was that these are "internal" documents. So much for transparency.

 Doctor, heal theyself.

The experts urging transparency on April 29 were Juan Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; and Gabriela Knaul, Special Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers.

 What do these UN Experts think of UN Peacekeeping's and Ladsous' performance?

On April 2 Ladsous appeared at the UN Security Council media stakeout but after reading a prepared statement refused to answer Press questions about the underlying Tabankort agreement with the MNLA which led to the Mali shooting. Video I here.

  Inner City Press also asked about shooting at civilians by Ladsous' peacekeepers in Haiti, caught on video, and asked if that withheld report would be released. Ladsous said, I do not respond to you. Video II here.

  Inner City Press asked if it isn't now a pattern, peacekeepers shooting at unarmed civilians not only in Mali but also Haiti, and if Ladsous will take responsibility.

  Ladsous' spokesman Nicholas Birnback then grabbed the UNTV microphone and moved it away from Inner City Press. This happened before with Ladsous and his previous spokesman. Video here, story here. At that time, after the Free UN Coalition for Access complained, the UN Spokesperson told FUNCA it would not happen again. Now it has. Accountability?

 Tellingly, the Ladsous scribe who angled for and got the first question asked pointedly if the peacekeepers in Mali weren't from Rwanda. Ladsous leered and said the Troop Contributing Country, then spoke again at the end to lay the blame on them. Video II, here, near end.

  In the public record is Ladsous' 1994 memo supporting the escape of the Hutu genocidaires who formed the FDLR into Eastern Congo, where now Ladsous' MONUSCO finds one excuse after another NOT to neutralize the FDLR as it did the largely Tutsi M23 armed group.



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