Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

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

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

More: InnerCityPro

Home -

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


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

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

As UN Proposes New SEA Strategy, ICP Asks of Criticism, Cameroon, Spokesman Haq Spins

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 10 --  When the UN announced the overdue idea of not continuing to pay peacekeepers accused of rape on March 9, Inner City Press asked how the proposal would apply to the 800 Burundian troops the UN is still paying in Central African Republic, despite substantive allegations of sexual abuse, and human rights abuses by the Burundian security forces in their own country. Video here.

   On March 10, Inner City Press asked UN holdover Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq again about criticism of the plan, and about a particular report of abuse against Cameroonian peacekeepers in CAR. Video hereUN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I’m sure that you’ve seen Code Blue and AIDS-Free World’s critique.  They say that the reforms are much less than what they seem, and they point out at least four major problems, one of them being that if civilian staff are charged that essentially all the UN can… can… can threaten is administrative, is termination of jobs rather than crime.  They say that the whole… that… that the UN has a conflict of interest in investigating its own personnel and should create an outside body.  Given that… given their role in some of the exposures along with Mr [Anders] Kompass of the sexual abuse problems, what’s the UN’s response to their detailed critique?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first of all, I would like to point out that it was, in fact, UN investigators, including a UN investigator… a human rights investigator on the ground in the Central African Republic, that brought the accusations to light, the ones that you’re referring to.  We ourselves have been doing a job policing ourselves from human rights investigators, from people working for UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), from officials in the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).  So a lot of the information that groups like AIDS-Free World transmit are information coming from us.  We have been doing this, and we believe that we have an effective way of investigating our personnel.  And the record over the last few years shows that there have been a wide number of investigations.  Regarding their criticism more in general, of course, we like to take in as much constructive criticism as we can from the outside, and we’ll try to respond to different groups that find objections.  And yet, at the same time, one thing I do want to emphasize is that we do not believe that UN peacekeepers or UN staff, in general, are… should be treated as if they’re inherently a criminal class.  This is a problem that has affected a small number of peacekeepers, a small number of civilian staff, and we need to make sure that it’s rooted out and that there’s zero tolerance for such offences.  But, at the same time, we very much appreciate the work of the countries that have contributed troops.  You have to remember, there’s, for years upon… year after year, there are more than 100,000 troops deployed around the world.  They place themselves at great personal risk.  Many of them have been killed in combat.  Many of them have been wounded.  They face tremendous hardship, and we are very proud of what they achieve.  And we want to work in partnership with the Member States to make sure that any wrongdoing is rooted out, but that’s in the context of appreciating the overall work that has been done.  We do not regard them as inherently a problem, as inherently people who cannot be trusted.  The… it’s far from the case.  Society after society has found a greater amount of peace, and many people have… owe their lives to the work that they’re doing.

Inner City Press:  Right.  I don’t think that’s what Code Blue was saying, but I want to ask you… and maybe you can get an answer on this, two specifics.  There was an Amnesty International report about… about sexual abuse in the Central African Republic in which they said a Cameroonian peacekeeper was killed, and the next day the contingent returned to the area.  And many people thereafter testified about sexual abuse, including of minors.  So, in the report, it says that there is, one, a sole allegation of sexual abuse against the Cameroonian contingent in [the Central African Republic].  This was some time ago as you remember in the… and there’s also another one in MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti).  Is it possible, in the spirit of the transparency you’re discussing, to say, what’s the status of this?  Why has it taken so long?  Why was there only one charge written in this report when, according to the Amnesty International one, they’re the contingent that went back and… and at the time frame?  And, of course, they’re not all criminals, but I’m asking you, can you get an update later today about this case reported on by Amnesty International?

Deputy Spokesman:  Ultimately, for us to get an update, we need to have progress in the investigation.  Once we have the results to deliver, we can provide that, but until that point, we’re allowing that process to continue.

Inner City Press:  Right, but it was said yesterday that things were going to move faster.  In the time frame given, given when these incidents took place, how is it still… what is… I guess, even a statement of what’s the status within the Cameroonian justice system?

Deputy Spokesman:  At this stage, there’s no update to provide.  Once we have an update, we’ll certainly provide it, but every process has its own momentum, has its own rate.

On March 9, Lisa Buttenheim, Assistant Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support, answered about the UN's inquiries and cooperation with the Burundian authorities. But on the same day, UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told Inner City Press, the Security Council heard of Burundi's Vice President Gaston Sindimwo saying that all UN staff in the country should be changed. So can continued UN payments to these forces be justified by the Burundian government's cooperation with the UN?

  Inner City Press also asked about the place of whistleblowers in bringing to light the type of abuse the UN says it wants to root out, specifically the case of Anders Kompass who was fired after he went public with allegations of sexual abuse by the French Sangaris peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.  Christian Saunders, Director of the Office of the Under Secretary-General of the Department of Management, said he worked on the UN's new whistleblower policy but that the key is "culture," and assured that whistleblowers will be protected. There are, of course, the cases at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of Miranda Brown and Emma Reilly. We'll have more on this.

(Inner City Press asked asked ASG Buttenheim, previously the head of the UN Mission in Cyprus, about the recent video-tape depicting UN peacekeepers stealing from a watch store. She said she would look into it; later a UN Peacekeeping spokesperson told Inner City Press, But you have the language. What, that the UN is looking into a clear video tape? UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq indicated that he would provide any update to Inner City Press, which has often not been the case. Watch this site.)

  Back in the UNreal world, UN Peacekeeping not only continued to pay the Pierre Nkurunziza government for 800 more Burundians in CAR - but is even training these abusive forces in the use of drones. Are these proposals just hot air? Will incoming head of UN Peacekeeping, the fifth Frenchman in a row Jean-Pierre Lacroix, actually repatriate the Burundian which Herve Ladsous refused to do? This is just one test.

 And it is a test the UN has been failing. Three times Inner City Press has asked the UN's holdover spokesman about Burundi bragging about the UN drone training, and they have refuse to answer.

  The UN on January 17 wouldn't tell Inner City Press what percentage it is allowing to be taken from what it pays for the Burundians in the Central African Republic. See below.

   At the confirmation hearing for Nikki Haley, nominee as US Ambassador to the UN, on January 18 Haley three times said that countries whose peacekeepers abuse should not keep getting paid.

  Inner City Press asked the UN and UK about this, with the example of the UN having chosen to keep paying Burundi for 800 troops even after the UN's own inquiry charged 25 rapes by Burundian soldiers in the Central African Republic.

  UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft signaled agreement, that sexual abuse by peacekeepers should be met by repatriation. Tweeted video here. But simply to be replaced by troops from the same country, to get paid?

(During Rycroft's answer, there was a smirk at the mention of Burundi, from US state media that's had John Kerry on its Board - perhaps a flashback to Liberians, here. We may have more on this.)

 UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq called it a "case by case" decision, tweeted video here. But who decided it, and why? Look to Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping.

From January 17: Video here; UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: You may have seen that Burundi has announced it's going to withdraw 5,400 troops from AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia].  They're saying they're not being paid.  The European Union says that they, in fact… the soldiers are being paid, just the Government is not able to take a cut of it because they believe the Government is in violation of various human rights issues.  What has the UN, which itself has peacekeepers… what does it think about the standoff?  Does it believe that it's legitimate for a funder of a peacekeeping operation to say we'll pay the people directly so that the Government doesn't get a cut, particularly in the case of Burundi where the UN has decided not to use Burundian police officers in CAR [Central African Republic]?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding the question of how these troops are to be paid, that's a matter that needs to be resolved ultimately with the European Union, which is responsible for the payment issue, and with the African Union.  So, that's not really something which we would comment on.  Of course, we believe that all troops performing such tasks need to be paid.

Inner City Press:  But, you have… I guess my question is, in the Central African Republic, the UN is still paying the Pierre Nkurunziza Government for the use of these 800-some peacekeepers, and you have another major, you know, admittedly, not the UN, but the EU saying this is a Government that would, you know, predictably use this funding to commit human rights violations.  Does the UN disagree?

Deputy Spokesman:  We… if we were to receive reports of problems with payments getting to our peacekeeping troops, we would act upon that accordingly.  Whenever we pay Governments, as a general policy, we do that on the assurance that those… that that money will go to the peacekeeping troops.

Inner City Press:  Just one final question.  What… what's the UN's understanding of the percentage that's kept by governments before they pass it through to… because it's not 100 per cent.  I think you know that.  So, what percentage of withholding is appropriate, according to the UN?

Deputy Spokesman:  That not something that we calculate or advise on.  That a decision made by different Governments.

  So there are no limits at all? Except if a government takes 100% and the peacekeepers complain they got nothing? We'll have more on this.

As Burundi "facilitator" William Mkapa reconvened talks, the attendees list obtained by Inner City Press shows not only Ken Vitisia, of whom we're previously written, but also Francis Mnodolwa.

   Inner City Press previously on December 29 asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric to comment on the inclusion of an individual listed in the November 2009 DR Congo sanctions Group of Experts report, without answer. (Dujarric answered only two and a half of the 22 questions Inner City Press submitted: and those only to defend Ban Ki-moon and himself.)

  Now, from Paragraph 74 of that report:

"The Group has been informed by several sources, including a source close to Mr. Ndagundi, that he has close links to the ruling Counseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) party in
Burundi.. Mr. Ndagundi.s Burundian telephone records also show 27 communications from April to September 2009 between himself and the number used by Francis Ndoluwa, the ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to Burundi, a former general in the Tanzanian military. A source close to Mr. Ndagundi informed the Group that he works closely with the Ambassador."

  So there is yet another of Mkapa's team that is close to the CNDD-FDD.

On January 16, Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesman Farhaq Haq, video here, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: these Burundian talks facilitated by Mr. Mkapa, I'd asked this in December, I guess, in writing to you, but the… one of the… one of his team members that's being deported by the UN is a person that’s listed in the November 2009 DRC sanctions report as being a supporter of CNDD-FDD, and there's actually some allegations that he was involved in helping to arm them.

So I'm just wondering, what is the relationship between the UN's support of these talks and what many are calling a lack of inclusiveness and the inclusion of people that are… are, you know, listed in UN sanctions reports?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, obviously, the sanctions are, remain in place, and it's a matter for the Security Council and its relevant sanctions committees to make sure that those sanctions are implemented.  We at the UN, of course, respect those sanctions.  That's a separate issue from the need for mediation.  Of course, we need to make sure that all mediation efforts, including those under former President Mkapa, are supported, and we're continuing to do so with our officials in the region.

Inner City Press:  But have you seen the response by large parts of the Burundian opposition that this… the most recent round is the least… the most one-sided yet and it's virtually… I mean, they're not really included.  What's the UN's role in these talks?

Deputy Spokesman:  We're certainly aware of the objections by the various sides.  We're trying to make sure that, as the process continues, it can be as inclusive as possible.

  On January 11, long after the UN Security Council ostensibly mandated the deployment to Burundi of 228 UN Police, no progress had been made. Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: Has there been any progress in deploying the 226 police that the Security Council also mandated for Burundi to Burundi?  Do you have any update on that?

Spokesman:  No.  None that I can report.  Go ahead.  Last one.

   While corpses are found in Burundi and the government blocks the deployment of both the UN Police and UN Conflict Prevention staff ostensibly called for by the UN Secretariat and Security Council, the government's supporters try to side with either UN censors like Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach, who evicted and restricts the Press which reports on Burundi, or more generally UN staff.

It is more than a little ironic. UN staff are being PNG-ed and having visas denied from Burundi.
   A list of some recent finds:

On 2 January 2017, two( 2) persons namely Gilbert Bandika aka Juma and Nestor Nkeshimana were killed in Nyamaboko in the District of Kanyosha;

On 4 January 2017, a dead body of a person identified as Donatien Ndereyimana was found at the edge of Lake Tanganyika;

On 5 January 2017, a teenager was shot dead and another wounded as police quarreled with farmers in Mahwa in the District of Ryansoro;

On 8 January 2017, a dead body of a 50 year-old Habonimana Cyrille aka Mujos was found in an abandoned house in Musaga, 1st street. Testimonies suggest he was tortured and several parts of his body amputated before his remains were dropped in an abandoned house.

   While the UN says little and does nothing about this, they made a point of ordering Inner City Press to stop broadcasting on Periscope, with voice-over, a Town Hall meeting with new Secretary General Antonio Guterres, which was on the UN's public UN Webcast website. And the government supporters, saying Inner City Press entered the meeting (it didn't) and picking up on the anti-Press maze Cristina Gallach of Spain and DPI has created, piled on. The UN of Gallach has brought this on; this is how the UN is perceived and to this has it sunk.

   There is also a strange announcement of a 500 Euros loan being arranged from a shadowy, seemingly dormant company “Biz Planners.” We'll have more on this.

 Benjamin Mkapa as Burundi mediator has kept his mind on his money, and his money on his mind, even as amid assissination of minister, closing down of NGOs. Well placed sources exclusively teold Inner City Press that Mkapa demanded a raise -- up to $1500 a day -- and was rejected.

Mkapa then took his demand to the East African Community heads of state. Will he get the payday? By declaring Pierre Nkurunziza legitimate because Ambassadors still present their credential to him, Mkapa is working for the money. But $1500 a day?

   There are other of his advisers gunning for up to $500 a day, including one who is said to have previously help arm CNDD-FDD related groups. Yes, we'll have more on this.

On January 4, Inner City Press asked about the Security Council's (lack of) Follow through on Burundi, to Ambassador Delattre of France, the "penholder" on Burundi. Tweeted video here.

More here.


Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

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 2006-2015 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for