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March 1, 2011: Libya

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Sex Abuse by UN Peacekeepers in Cote d'Ivoire & Haiti Raised to UN Expert

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 10 -- When the UN's Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Rashida Manjoo took questions from the media on Monday, a list of nine bullet points from her report was handed to reporters. None of the nine points concerned her report's comment on the UN:

"Abuses against women and girls have also been committed by international personnel deployed in United Nations peace operations." [Paragraph 44]

  Inner City Press asked Manjoo about this line, and whether she thought the UN under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon does enough, given that it does not prosecute peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse but only sends them home.

  Manjoo's response included a reference to sex for food and to what the UN calls its "zero tolerance" policy, of "no impunity." But when it was said that a final question would be allowed, Inner City Press asked about a specific case revealed only in a Wiki-leaked cable, that of 16 Beninois peacekeepers charged with buying sex with underaged girls in exchange for food then merely sent back to Benin.

  The UN has refused to say what if anything ever happened to those charged. Lack of accountability has escalated, including in the past month with incoming Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous named but not in place while sex abuse scandals exploded in Haiti's MINUSTAH mission.

Manjoo acknowledged that often cases are not followed up, and said that such a complaint could be submitted to her office and she would inquire.

Manjoo & Ban Ki-moon, answers on sex abuse by DPKO not yet shown

  Less than an hour after the briefing, Inner City Press submitted information about this and another Cote d'Ivoire case, and that of the Sri Lankan peacekeepers repatriated from Haiti's MINUSTAH mission after charges of underaged sex to Manjoo's colleague Katarina Mansson, Associate Expert in the Human Rights Treaties Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, asking for inquiry and updates. Watch this site.

Footnote: Inner City Press also asked Manjour about the processing of rape charges against former IMF managing director Dominique Strauss Kahn, who is now citing his UN system immunity to try to defeat the alleged victim's litigation. Manjour declined to give her views, but CEDAW chairperson Silvia Pimentel responded by referring to a book she has writing about rape and double standards. We will have more on this.

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Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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

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