Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

At UN, Happy Talk of Haiti Means Stonewall of Shootings and Sexual Abuse, Kidnapping

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 9 -- After Bill Clinton's pep talk on Haiti at the UN Security Council on September 9, the actual head of the UN mission in the country responded testily to questions from the Press. Despite the canned and glowing words in the Council, there is a far from marginal view in Haiti that the peacekeepers act like they are on vacation, may at times sexually exploit or even kill Haitian with seeming impunity, and have at times been involved at least as middle men in kidnappings for money in the country.\
    Inner City Press asked Hedi Annabi to report on how many of the 111 Sri Lankan peacekeepers who were accused of sexual abuse and repatriated to Sri Lanka were in fact disciplined in the country. Annabi complained that the question had been asked before, each time he is at the UN in fact -- but it has yet to be answered.

  Annabi's boss Alain Le Roy some months ago promised a transparent process for reporting how many repatriated peacekeepers are disciplined. But the promised web site is not online, and from Wednesday's stakeout answers by the Prime Minister, it appears that even the Haitian government has not been told what discipline was meted out. So the question will continue to be asked. Annabi said "a number" without specifying, then added that evidence is difficult in these cases. So this is the UN's zero tolerance policy?

  Inner City Press asked the Prime Minister for the outcome of the investigation into who killed the marcher on June 18 at the funeral of Reverend Gerard Jean-Juste. She said this was up to "the authorities," and refused to confirm reports that earlier on Wednesday police arrested students in Port au Prince who were protesting for a higher minimum wage and for the removal of UN peacekeepers. She called this a "marginal" view.

In Haiti, Clinton, UN's Ban and Annabi, zero tolerance not shown

  With Annabi still at the stakeout as it hit 9 p.m., Inner City Press prefaced a question on kidnapping by saying Annabi's answer was predicable. Annabi replied, then why do you ask the question? To get it on the record: have UN peacekeepers or UN police at any time been involved, even as protection for payment of ransom, in kidnappings in Haiti? Annabi appeared to answer "no."Video here. We'll see.

Footnote: in his impromptu stop for the media on the steps and hall outside the Security Council, Clinton provided no update on his commitments on the restavek system that enslaves Haitian youth, nor on holding the UN accountable. Click here, and watch this site.

* * *

Haitian Protester Was Killed by Bullet, Not "Blunt Object" As UN Claimed, "Mostly Rubber"

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, July 2 -- While the UN congratulates itself for naming Bill Clinton as envoy to Haiti, questions are multiplying about the June 18 death of a civilian mourner in a crowd policed by the UN in Port au Prince. On June 19, UN Spokesperson Michele Montas said that the demonstrator, who remains unidentified but was among 2000 marching with the casket of Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, was killed not by a bullet but by a "blunt object."

 In June 22, Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas if the UN peacekeepers policing the crowd has fired rubber bullets or live ammunition. Ms. Montas never answered the question, but instead insisted that "the demonstrator was not killed with a gun."

 Now it emerges from the autopsy that the demonstrator was killed by a bullet. In Haiti, the UN has acknowledged this finding to the local press corps, and that its peacekeepers used live ammunition. But nothing was said by the UN in New York, to amend its previous statements.

 On July 2, Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas about her statement that the demonstrator was killed by a blunt object.

Team Ban with Bill Clinton in Haiti earlier this year, bullets and updates not shown

  "MINUSTAH has said that, true," Ms.Montas replied, referring to the UN mission in Haiti by its French acronym. She then said, contrary to her UN counterpart in Haiti, that the autopsy was not yet out.

  When Inner City Press repeated its unanswered June 22 question about live ammunition, Ms Montas said "I didn't get an answer, I gather they are rubber bullets, mostly." Video here, from Minute 13:03.

  It seems to some that the UN Spokesperson should update claims she has made once they are contradicted in the public record -- particularly by local UN offices. We aim to have more on this.

* * *

For UN, Clinton Will Work on Haitian Children Reporting, Not of Sexual Abuse

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 15 -- The depths of Haiti's problems emerged at Bill Clinton's UN press conference on Monday. After Clinton spoke of the need to make a registry of non-governmental organizations to better coordinate their work, Inner City Press asked about the lack of registration of the children that are born, particularly in rural Haiti. Video here, from Minute 29:12 to 33:59.

   During the Security Council's recent trip to Haiti, a representative of UNICEF told them that the lack of registration leads to illegal adoptions and even the sale of babies for organs, one Permanent Representative told Inner City Press, urging that this too be asked of Clinton. He was responding to Inner City Press' June 12 question, at a briefing on child labor, about Haiti's restavek system.

   After Clinton's opening statement, Inner City Press asked about restavek, registration and the UN's failure to disclose any discipline meted out to the more than 100 peacekeepers repatriated to Sri Lanka after being accused of sexual abuse and exploitation. On punishment for sexual impropriety, Clinton said he would not answer, that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would.

Bill Clinton and UN's Ban on June 15, outcome of repatriation not shown

  But on restavek, he said he knew well of the problem. He said, parents were promised their children would be educated in exchange for work, but the schooling never happened. Some restavek victims are in the United States, he said. He will try to work on the problem.

   On sexual abuse, Mr. Ban said the UN has received assurances that some discipline took place after repatriation. But the UN has never said what this was. Inner City Press asked Haitian Foreign Minister Alrich Nicolas, also present, but he did not know, either. How can the UN claim a zero tolerance policy when it won't report this basic information? We will continue on this.

From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: President Clinton, you had mentioned the registration of NGOs in Haiti. But there are parts of the country where babies' births are not being registered. We are told this leads to illegal adoptions, something called the restavek system of forced labour and even of trade in organs. This is something that one of the Ambassadors on the recent Security Council trip there raised. I am wondering, what, as part of your work, you can do? And also on the theme of, first do no harm, recently more than 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers were repatriated from Haiti under charges of sexual abuse and exploitation. Thus far, the UN hasn't announced what happened to them once they got back to [Sri Lanka], whether any discipline was imposed. Do you think the UN should release that kind of information, and what do you think of that? Will part of your job involve making the UN either more transparent or more accountable, including to the people in Haiti?

Special Envoy Clinton: Well, first, I think the Secretary-General should answer the question about the peacekeepers. But I will answer the other questions.

The restavek system is one of several kinds of mechanisms around the world where desperately poor people earn money by, in effect, by putting their children in conditions of involuntary servitude of all kinds. In Haiti, much of it was originally pitched as “I'll send your kid to school if your child will work in my home”, but as we all know, more often than not, it doesn't work out that way. I believe the most important thing that we can do is to raise the economic conditions in those areas, increase the reporting and the accountability, and then encourage the Haitian Government to take appropriate legal action. But, I am sad to say, we have even had the example of restavek children being found in the United States, in Haitian communities. And so, yes, it's one of those things I know about. I care a lot about it. I am going to do what I can to create the conditions in which we can bring an end to it, and the other abuses that you mention.

But, I think it is important for those of us who have never been there. Keep in mind that this country is close to the United States. It is in our hemisphere. It is a Caribbean country. But its per capita income is quite low. Probably one of the 35 lowest in the world, and in the rural areas, even though it is not a large country comparatively, there are almost no systems of the kind that you and I take for granted, even in other relatively low income Central American countries to stop these kinds of things from happening. So, we have go to build out these systems, and I am very aware of all this. I will do what I can to help end it. But I assure you, most Haitians would like to end it too. We just have to give them the power to do so. I can't comment on the Sri Lankan soldiers; I don't know, maybe?

SG: On the second portion of your question, it is a consistent policy of the United Nations, when those soldiers commit crimes, they are repatriated to their own homes. We demand the national authorities of the countries concerned to take administrative and judiciary punishment, procedures, corresponding to the seriousness of the crimes. This is exactly what we did in the case of the Sri Lankan peacekeepers. I understand that they have taken the necessary domestic measures.

Inner City Press: [Maybe] the Government of Haiti was told what happened with the peacekeepers that were repatriated. Because I know that here it was never said how many were convicted, or what discipline was imposed.

Foreign Minister Nicolas: It is the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Planification and Cooperation are working on that.

We'll see.

* * *

On Haiti, UN Council Members Blame Aristide, Blur Sex Abuse, Pitch Development

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 6 -- In the run-up to a Haiti donors' conference on April 14, the UN Security Council heard speeches for five hours on Monday. Afterwards, Inner City Press asked Hedi Annabi, the chief of the UN's mission in Haiti MINUSTAH, about collapsed school buildings, UN peacekeepers returned to Sri Lanka charged with sexual abuse, and the food price riots of a year ago. Video here.

  Annabi said that one third of Haitian still suffer from malnutrition and perhaps relatedly that fully 111 Sri Lankan soldiers were repatriated under what he called the UN's "zero tolerance policy on sexual abuse." Inner City Press asked what had been done in and by Sri Lanka about the 111 soldiers. Annabi said that he is not well informed of what is filed with UN headquarters, but that Sri Lanka filed something. But what? The UN's policy for now, to paragraph the advertisement for Las Vegas, seems to be "what happens in Haiti, stays in Haiti."

   Costa Rican ambassador Jorge Urbina, who had said he would raise the sexual abuse issue when he led the Council's trip to Haiti last month, likewise had no factual update on any discipline meted out to these soldiers in and by Sri Lanka. He spoke of nation building. When Inner City Press asked if he thought that the upcoming elections should include the party of Aristide, he answered that the exclusion was due to Aristide himself being unwilling to sign for either of his party's candidates. Still, he said, legitimacy would be enhanced by the inclusion of these "important" groups, adding, "I don't know how important" they are. Video here.

UN's Ban and Annabi and Bill Clinton in Haiti, sex abuse follow-up not shown

  Security Council president Claude Heller of Mexico told the Press it is up to Haitians to interpret the Council's Presidential Statement, that the elections should be "inclusive." Inner City Press asked about an incident early in the resumed Council session in the afternoon in which Chile's Ambassador appeared to complain about UN agencies speaking to the Council before member states like his. Heller replied that he thought it important that the agencies speak when they did, immediately after the 15 Council members. Video here. We'll wait to hear from Chile.

Footnotes: on the UN's flimsy "zero tolerance of sexual abuse" policy, its previously proponent and defender, Jane Holl Lute, was recently grilled in the U.S. Senate confirmation process for her Deputy of Homeland Security post about lack of follow-through on sexual abuse, and about her role in steering a $250 million no-bid contract to Lockheed Martin's PAE in Darfur. Her defense, according to Capitol Hill sources, was to blame the UN for refusing to release documents, even to Congress. Zero tolerance, indeed... Just taking the repatriation from Sri Lanka as an example -- one could just as easily choose the repatriation to Morocco from Ivory Coast, or the ongoing spat between the UN, DR Congo and India on this issue -- it is imperative that the UN be questioned for the actual follow-up results, and release them. Watch this site.

Posing seemingly obligatory North Korea questions, Inner City Press asked President Heller for an update (consultations continue) and Ambassador Urbina of Costa Rica if the non-permanent members other than Japan have any involvement. Urbina replied that the process will soon include them, and they hope for a resolution. A resolution, and not a presidential or press statement? That is our position, Urbina said. And that day at the stakeout was done.

  President of the General Assembly D'Escoto to his credit took a North Korea question from Inner City Press -- click here for his answer -- while at a press conference about the human right to food, which Inner City Press is covering in a separate dedicated story, click here to view.

  Click here for a new YouTube video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -