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Ban Heads to Haiti After UN Dodges Legal Papers About Cholera

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 13 -- Four days after Inner City Press asked the UN about cholera and if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was traveling to Haiti mid-July (and the UN dodged), now Ban's spokesman announces Ban's trip to Haiti.

  One question is whether Ban will there be served with legal papers about the UN bringing cholera to Hispanola, another topic on which Ban's spokespeople dodged and worse.

  From the UN's July 9 transcript:

Inner City Press: yesterday there was a filing in the Haiti cholera case and it also included an attachment, a letter from OLA [Office for Legal Affairs] addressed to Samantha Power earlier this year, I mean, from this letter I wanted to ask you the following:  it said, the UN is basically claiming, “We’re totally immune unless we waive it.”  And so, I don’t know if, but I want to ask you this:  has the Secretary-General ever considered waiving the UN’s immunity, at least partially, in this case?  And also, can you, is it true that the Secretary-General is going to the Dominican Republic in the middle of July, and will he also go to Haiti and inaugurate a soccer stadium?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I don’t have any official announcement on travel at this point.  As far as Haiti and the legal standing, our position has not changed.

Inner City Press:  But did he ever consider, at some earlier stage, had he ever considered and rejected it?

Spokesman: As I said, what we’ve said about Haiti and the legal position remains the same.  And, as I’ve also said, our work with the Government in Haiti on addressing the cholera spread is continuing.  I think there was a meeting, in fact, this morning of the Joint Commission run by the UN and the Government of Haiti.  And, we continue to appeal for funds and we continue to work in partnership with the Government of Haiti on that.

  Now, this announcement.

 The UN almost certainly introduced cholera to Haiti; thousands of Haitians have died. On June 23, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman, YouTube video here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about the service of papers on the Secretary-General on Friday on the Haiti cholera suit. I e-mailed you on Friday, but still have yet to get an answer from you. Farhan Haq is quoted by some media as saying that he slapped them away or that his guard stepped in the way. What is the case? How would you explain what seems to be kind of an evasive approach to the Haiti cholera issue by the Secretary-General?

Spokesman Dujarric: I don’t agree with your description of evasive. I think the legal position of the United Nations has been clear, has been often stated from this from this podium, by myself and by Martin, so that position is clear and unchanged...

  Clear? Earlier this year when legal papers for a lawsuit were posted on the door of Ban Ki-moon's UN-provided residence on Sutton Place, his spokespeople repeatedly refused to confirm or deny to Inner City Press that the legal papers had been received. The Free UN Coalition for Access has protested the UN's increased stonewalling.

  Now, a new low.

   Hearing that Ban had finally been handed legal papers in a second Haiti cholera lawsuit while he went to give a speech about Syria at the Asia Society on Friday morning, Inner City Press e-mailed Ban's top two spokespeople to ask: “Can you please confirm or deny asap that the Secretary General got handed or served with legal papers in one of the Haiti cholera lawsuits, on information and believe this morning near the Asia Society?”

  Even as Ban's spokesperson's office murkily distributed a report on Syria which mirrored Ban's speech (review of speech here, of distribution here), neither spokesperson answered, even to confirm receipt of the question.

  Now it emerges that Haq replied to the Miami Herald to the same question, telling “the Herald he was standing behind ban during the alleged encounter and Ban did not take the papers. 'No one at the UN took the papers,' Haq wrote in an email.”

  The Free UN Coalition for Access will have more on this.


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