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Of Mercenaries in Congo & Bahrain, Who Are UN's Guards in Somalia?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 1 -- In Somalia, which private armed guards were running around Mogadishu with UN Mine Action Service chief David Bax, as acknowledged but not named by UN envoy Nicholas Kay? Were they with South Africa-based Denel?

  In Eastern Congo, would Ukrainian pilots in helicopter gunships be considered mercenaries, while recently naturalized Bahrain "security" force members are not?

  These were the questions Inner City Press put to three members of the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries on Thursday, and unlike at the UN's own briefing in this room, each question got an answer. Video here, from Minute 40:24.

  On Somalia, Working Group rapporteur Anton Katz of South Africa said he and fellow member Faiza Patel of Pakistan had been there in December and would be reporting soon. He said Denel may be working for some other entity -- UNMAS? - but that the UN system does not employ Denel. Video here, from Minute 18:32.

This seemed strange, since three Denel employees were killed in the most recent attack on UN Compound on Mogadishu. An arms expert tweeted to Inner City Press that Denel mostly doesn't do armed guards. Then who were they? We'll await Kay's or less likely Bax's answer.

  On behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access, Inner City Press suggested to the Working Group members that they encourage UN agencies to publicly disclose which security companies they use, and for what.

On Ukrainian pilots in the Congo, Gabor Rona replied that if they were members of Ukraine's army, they could not be mercenaries, only parties to a conflict. On Bahrain, he said that naturalization is enough, legally, to come out from the definition of mercenary.

Can one be naturalized retroactively, Inner City Press asked, laundered so to speak? Video here from Minute 42:38.

Anton Katz asked, to some laugher, Are you thinking of becoming one?

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  Speaking of mercenaries, once again the UN Correspondents' Association asserted its "right" to have the first question, a right that 2013 president Pamela Falk has said can be delegated to any dues paying UNCA member, even one who ran for the Executive Committee and lost.

 This means that in exchange for money, someone is given a question at the UN.

   Particularly now with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky outright refusing to take some Press questions, this pay to play is unsavory, and the outstanding favoritism and rule of law questions must be answered. Watch this site.


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