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UN Mis-Claims Its Sex Abusers "Will Be Charged" While Asserting Immunity

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 -- While the UN speaks of women's rights, it often does not promote them, especially from abuse by the UN's own personnel and peacekeepers. On March 8 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the press, "today is International Women's Day....or that reason, I am pleased to announce that Ms. Ann-Marie Orler will be the new Police Adviser for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations."

Inner City Press asked Ms. Orler for her position on the UN's policy in cases of sexual abuse or exploitation by UN Police and Peacekeepers of only sending the perpetrator back to their country, which is free to not prosecute.

  Ms. Orler began by acknowledging "there is an immunity for peacekeepers," adding confusingly that "if they've done something without the mandate." She then said without equivocation, "If it's serious, they will be charged for it." Video here, from Minute 12:22.

  Inner City Press asked, isn't it true that the UN only repatriates, and cannot assure prosecution, that "they will be charged"? Ms. Orler admitted, "the country has to follow up... if the country neglects it, it is more difficult." Video here, from Minute 14:37.

  So, it is not true to say of sexually abusing UN personnel that "they will be charged."

UN's Anne-Marie Orler, as got ready for job, charging not shown

  The lack of clarity comes from the top. On Monday Mr. Ban was asked

"we recently had this case of sexual harassment by a UN employee – [Cynthia] Brzak I think is her name – who was dismissed because your predecessor had not lifted the diplomatic immunity of the man in question. Is that not a policy you think you should tackle, to really put some teeth into your commitment to women's rights, lifting this policy of diplomatic immunity in the case where UN officials are accused of sexual harassment?"

Ban's response left many in the press corps, and those who heard it, shaking their heads:

SG Ban: I think that, as far as the United Nations is concerned, we have taken right and correct measures in that case. Now it is in the hands of the judiciary process. I have taken note of the decision of the US court here, not allowing for her to pursue this case by reason of immunity and privileges. That is the court's decision. We had taken all necessary administrative and legal measures at that time, when it had happened. But it will continue to be the firm policy and position of the United Nations.

  So -- is is the firm policy and position of the UN to assert immunity when one of its officials is charged with sexual harassment? Ironically, when UN system staffer Nicolas Baroncini, having been pepper sprayed after his job was given to the daughter of UN Congo boss Alan Doss, bit a security officer, he had no immunity, and faces a continuing trial.

But when a high UN system official is charged with sexual harassment, the UN aserts immunity all the way. Firm policy, that... Watch this site.

* * *

As UN Invokes Immunity to Defeat Sex Harassment Case, UN Claims It's in Its Interest

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- While the UN this week is full of talk of women's rights, the UN has repeatedly invoked immunity to fight of the sexual harassment lawsuit of Cynthia Brzak, most recently in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. The UN not only said it is "absolutely immune against such cases, it also gave the impunity to former UN system employee Ruud Lubbers.

  But when UN spokesman Martin Nesirky was asked about the widely reported case, he said that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has "no comment." Minutes later, when Mr. Ban's Advisor on Woman's Issues Rachel Mayanja was asked about the case, she claimed that the UN "does not invoke immunity easily." Video here, from Minute 11:10.

  In fact, when Inner City Press asked UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq about the UN's failure to invoke immunity when two national staff members were arrested and allegedly tortured by the government of Sri Lanka last year, Haq conceded at the UN "normally" invokes immunity, article here.

On March 3, Ms. Mayanja said that UN only invokes immunity "if the interests of the Organization are at stake."

So does the UN have an "interest" is sexual harassment?

Ruud Lubbers, immunity and Mrs. Annan not shown

  When Ruud Lubbers was questioned by the Press about the case, he offered to demonstrate. "Come here," he said on camera to a reporter, then patted him on the back. Video here, from Minute 10:30.

  Lubbers said he would do that same to Nane Annan, the wife of then Secretary General Kofi Annan. Video here, from Minute 15:25. Soon thereafter he resigned.

  Why then as the UN continued to insist that Ruud Lubbers should be immune? And why would it misspeak about it? We will continue to pursue answers, during and after the current Commission on the Status of Women meetings at the UN. Watch this site.

* * *

Sex Abuse by Peacekeepers UN-Solved Amid CSW Shindigs at UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 1 -- With the UN teeming with participants in the Conference on the Status of Women, Inner City Press on Monday asked the personal representatives of the president of the Congo and of the prime minister of Morocco about UN peacekeepers charged with sexual abuse or exploitation.

  "In the DRC," the Moroccan representative said, "there were accusations proven to be false." Video here, from Minute 23:30. The Congolese representative stared at her.

  But even as to the Congo, when a UN peacekeeper is accused, the most that is done is to repatriate the soldier back to his home country. After that, it is never clear if there is prosecution or punishment. Inner City Press asked the Moroccan representative about the case of more than 100 Moroccan soldiers repatriated from the UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire, UNOCI -- where they ever prosecuted?

  I am not sure, was the answer, then a reference to one person being prosecuted. The representative said that in Morocco the army and gendarmes take this seriously, the police less so. But where is the showing of what was done with the repatriated peacekeepers? The UN provide obscurantist statistics, saying the Troop Contributing Countries don't want to be exposed.

  The Congolese representative said that the repatriation is the most that can be done. Inner City Press asked about charges that Joseph Kabila, whom she represented, has done too little about rapes committed by his army, particularly by the units that came in from the CNDP. Video here, from Minute 19:45. This question was not answered. On this, and other UN system sleaze in Kinshasa, we will continue to inquire this week. Watch this site.

CSW meeting in UN on March 1, accountability for UN sex abuse not shown

Footnote: the CSW as not only filled the UN cafeteria, so recently the site of an anthrax scare, but at a more elite level has given rise to a string of receptions. On Monday, the UK's Mark Lyall Grant has invited heads of CSW delegations to the UK mission, while Egypt's Maged Abdelaziz makes a similar invite to his country's Art Deco mission on 44th Street..

  On Tuesday, Chile's Heraldo Munoz invites delegates and Permanent Representatives to his residence on East 57th Street. This competes with the EU reception on 72nd Street and Madison Avenue. On Wednesday March 3, Ambassador Susan Rice invites the same crowd to the U.S. Mission. Many parties, little accountability. Again, on this, and other UN system sleaze in Kinshasa, we will continue to inquire this week. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel 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.

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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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