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Alleged Sex Crimes of Dead UN Liberia Staffer Raised in Council, U.S. Awaits Results

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 9 -- The American civilian employee of the UN Mission in Liberia accused of child sexual abuse until his recent and still mysterious death, Dale Fosnight, was belatedly a topic of discussion in and around the UN Security Council on September 9. Inner City Press asked U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, the Council's president for the month, for her views of the accusations against her country's national, and then asked the UN's head of Mission Ellen Loj for an update on the case.

  She said the body was flown to Accra, Ghana for an autopsy, accompanied by the Liberian National Police, whose investigation remains ongoing. She denied, however, that she or anyone she knows in the UN had heard of similar allegations against Mr. Fosnight in Sierra Leone, as has been reported in the local press. Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rice, as transcribed by the UN Mission:

Inner City press: one other thing on Liberia. There is this case where an American civilian employee of UNMIL (inaudible) was under investigation for child sexual abuse while employed by UNMIL -- (inaudible) -- is that something that, I guess, as the U.S. with your interest in peacekeeping, are you aware of that case? And what do you think the U.N. should do to make sure -- (inaudible) --

Ambassador Rice: Well, Ambassador Loj did refer to that in her briefing to the Council. Obviously, the U.S. is gravely concerned about any allegations of sexual violence or abuse. And we take them very seriously. We understand that the government of Liberia and UNMIL are currently investigating those allegations and we await their findings.

  Inner City Press asked Ellen Loj for an update on the case. She said "the investigation has been continued... after he passed away, unfortunately. I don't have the investigation done by OIOS yet. I have no knowledge and have not heard anyone in the UN [aware of] similar activities in Sierra Leone, but I'm sure it's part of the LNP [Liberia National Police] investigation."

Liberian National Police getting trained by UN, sex crimes investigation not shown

  When she said that the body had been transferred to Accra for autopsy, Inner City Press asked why. Ms. Loj said that until a year ago, Liberia had not capacity. Now they have a former UNMIL staffer, she said, employed by the World Bank.

  So again: why was the autopsy not done in Liberia? Loj said she hadn't seen the results of that, either, adding that even she she has she might not speak to the press. The U.S. says they are awaiting the findings. But will the U.S., which speaks of zero tolerance and of transparency, make the findings public? Watch this site.

Footnote: In light of the U.S. statements about the end of impunity and those who have supported war criminals, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: On Liberia, was there any discussion and what does the U.S. think of the truth and reconciliation commission? They were saying that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf should not be involved in public life for 30 years for having supported Charles Taylor. What's the UN, what is the Council's position, and what is the U.S.'s position on that?

Ambassador Rice: Well, the Council didn't discuss that in depth. I think we all recognize that President Johnson Sirleaf is the legitimately elected president of Liberia. The Council expressed strong support, members did in the broadest terms of the government of Liberia's efforts to improve the security situation, strengthen the security sector, enhance the rule of law and implement its poverty reduction and development strategy.

  Repurcussions for having supported Charles Taylor, anyone?

* * *

At UN, ICC's Map of Crimes Includes Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Zimbabwe, Unacted On by Victors' Justice

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 9 -- The talk was of war crimes at the UN on September 9, and those of Sri Lanka came up in discussion and on a color map. The President of the International Criminal Court's Assembly of State Parties noted that the UN Security Council has not referred Sri Lanka to the ICC.

  The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who has acknowledged receiving communications about Sri Lanka, spoke afterwards to the Press. On top of his file folder was a map, depicting by colors which countries have joined the ICC, which countries are being looked at (yellow dots), where prosecutions are ongoing (four red dots, all in Africa) and where Crimes Have Been Committed, noted with a green dot.

  There was a green dot on Sri Lanka, another on Zimbabwe and one on Myanmar.

Map in file of ICC's Ocampo, green dots for crimes, at bottom of India

    What does it mean, if the ICC's prosecutor acknowledges that crimes have been committed in three countries including by their governments but has actually put on trial so far only failed warlords in Africa? Inner City Press asked Ocampo and the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, who has never charged a member of the RPF government with a crime, to address charges that only losers are put on trial, made most recently by Sri Lanka itself.

   The ICTR Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, said that his focus has been on genocide and not war crimes, to which the court is now turning. Inner City Press asked if he will bring any prosecution against an RFP defendant before the ICTR's powers lapse. Jallow could not say. Ocampo said he focused on Ituri in the Congo first, but in the Kivus is looking at the government as well, and is still requesting information about acts of the Ugandan Army as well as the Lord's Resistance Army.

   Afterwards, Ocampo told the Press he is looking at nationals of 25 states for their acts in Iraq, which is not a state party of the ICC, and at acts not only of the Taliban but also of NATO forces in Afghanistan, which is a state party. He is traveling to Ecuador, at the invitation of President Correa, to look into allegations that support for the FARC passed from Ecuadorian territory into Colombia next door.

  As he spoke the map of entirely unacted on crimes, in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Zimbabwe, lay on the table next to him. When he was finished, brushing off a question about extraordinary rendition, he put the map back in his file and turned away.

The map in its position on the table

Footnote: the above took place during an event about the Consultative Conference on International Criminal Justice, about which Inner City Press looks to publish more. But as one journalist also present at the event told Inner City Press about the above, unlike most re-telling stories at the UN, it is actual first hand reporting.

* * *

Uganda Won't Implement ICC Warrant on Bashir Until "Verified" by AU, Can Kony Copy?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 22 -- Uganda's foreign minister Sam Kutesa told the Press on Wednesday that his country is "obligated to implement International Criminal Court warrants" such as the one against Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, but that as a member of the African Union, Uganda is not implementing the al Bashir warrant until the AU "verifies" it. Video here, from Minute 1:24.

   While some might welcome a process for regional appeals of ICC indictments, it raises the question: why for example can't Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, who Uganda referred to the ICC, forestall execution of the ICC warrant against him by commissioning a study such as the one of Bashir? That is, how prominent does the study group have to be, to justify an ICC member not acting on an ICC indictment?

On July 17, Inner City Press asked the President of the ICC's Assembly of State Parties, Liechtenstein's Ambassador Christian Weneweser, about Uganda's positions on al-Bashir. Some in the administration of President Yoweri Museveni had said Bashir would be arrested if he came to Uganda, then Museveni said no and reportedly apologized.
  Wenewaeer said
that on July 16, he had a long conversation with Uganda's Ambassador who gave assurances was committed "to its obligations under the Rome Statute" -- that is, to arrest al Bashir. Since Museveni had invited al Bashir to Uganda, Inner City Press asked Wenaweser if this might be a set up. "Ask him the question," Wenaweser said, referring to Uganda's Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda. Video here, from Minute 6:42.

   While Inner City Press later that day did ask Uganda's Ambassador the question -- click here for the answer -- on July 22 his boss, foreign minister Kutesa, was at the UN to debate post-conflict peacebuilding. Afterwards Inner City Press asked him to clarify Uganda's position. "Uganda's position is very clear," he said, adding it is obligated to implement ICC warrants but as a member of the AU it will await the findings of the AU group headed by South African's former president Thabo Mbeki.

Ugandan minister Kutesa, AU study trumps ICC warrant, for now

   Then you will implement the warrant? Absolutely, Kutesa said, once the AU has verified the indictment.

    And if it is not verified, Inner City Press asked, then what?

"Then the AU will take a position," Kutesa said. So apparently, the African Union trumps the ICC, at least for Uganda. Watch this space.

Footnote: Minister Kutesa held a lunch for ambassador at which, one attendee told Inner City Press, he spoke in more detail about Somalia that at the Council stakeout. There, when Inner City Press asked about peacebuilding and the DRC and Somalia, he answered vaguely that both are ready for peacebuilding. Since al Shabaab is throwing at least parts of the UN out of Somalia, its readiness for the PBC is in question.

  Kutesa appeared with the suddenly omnipresent Chilean Ambassador Geraldo Munoz, chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission, head of the investigation of the murder of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, and speaker for pro Responsibiliy to Protect NGOs now at the UN. Some say Munoz is looking for a UN job. Watch this space.

At UN, Rapp Raps on Taylor Trial, Dodges on Johnson Sirleaf and Obama War Crimes Post

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 16 -- Already nominated to become President Obama's Ambassador at Large for War Crimes, Iowan Stephen Rapp came to the UN on July 16 to cautiously discuss the Charles Taylor trial ongoing at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague. In a nine-minute stakeout interview which only Inner City Press attended -- call it an exclusive -- Rapp and the Court's President Renate Winter took five questions and answer three and a half. Video here.

Inner City Press asked about the 227 witnesses that Taylor has called for his defense. Will the prosecution be trying to whittle the list down? Renate Winter said that will be up to the presiding judge. Rapp noted that in the case of the interim leader of the RUF, the defense named 330 possible witnesses and ended up calling 59.

  Inner City Press asked about the missing and perhaps dead indictee Johnny Paul Koroma. Rapp said that either an internationalized court could be set up within the judicial system of Sierra Leone -- but then amnesty might apply -- or that the case could be transferred to other countries which would have jurisdiction. He said that discussion have begun with two such countries, which he would not name.

Stephen Rapp at UN on July 16, 2009, 2 countries not shown

  Since the recent press coverage of the trial has revolved around the skulls Taylor acknowledges authorizing his forces to display at roadblocks, Inner City Press asked what probative value if any this might have, and if Rapp thinks the media is focused on the wrong things at the trial. Rapp said he will not comment on anything under judicial consideration, but that skulls could constitute a "gruesome display of human remains" and have some probative value.

  As it has asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson, the UN envoy to West African Said Djinnet and Congo envoy Alan Doss, Inner City Press asked Rapp to comment on the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendation that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf be barred from public life for thirty years, in part for providing financial support to Charles Taylor. Rapp said "what happened in Liberia... is up to Liberians," and noted that Liberia's parliament must consider the TRC's recommendations.

  Now that Rapp has been nominated for his new U.S. job, Inner City Press asked Renate Winter what provisions are being made to replace him. She said there will not be a day with out a prosecutor. Rapp added that if he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he will begin arranging for a transition, seeing how much notice he should provide.

  Rapp is a lawyer's lawyer, but whether his soft spoken style is best suited for the Obama Administration's Ambassador at Large for War Crimes, as the Administration considers joining the International Criminal Court, remains to be seen. The fact that only one reporter waited to question him even after the nomination speaks either to lameness within the UN press corps, or to a perceived lack of news value. Rapp knows the system, and could well advise a more public face of the fight against impunity. We'll see.

* * *

On the morning of June 5, Inner City Press obtained the draft resolution that, as a must-credit exclusive, it puts online here. 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.

* * *

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

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