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Congress Requires UN To Put Peacekeeper Sex Abuse Info Online, Cromnibus I

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 11 -- A little noticed provision of the US Continuing Resolution / Omnibus or CRomnibus set for adoption this week in Congress is that for the $2.1 billion for UN Peacekeeping, the Appropriations Committee must be told that the

"United Nations has in place measures to prevent United Nations employees, contractor personnel, and peacekeeping troops serving in the mission from trafficking in persons, exploiting victims of trafficking, or committing acts of illegal sexual exploitation or other violations of human rights, and to bring to justice individuals who engage in such acts while participating in the peacekeeping mission, including prosecution in their home countries of such individuals in connection with such acts, and to make information about such cases publicly available in the country where an alleged crime occurs and on the United Nations’ Web site."

  But as Inner City Press established as recently as November 20, the UN refuses to say if peacekeepers it sends home or repatriates are in fact prosecuted. This information is not provided even in response to Press questions, must less put on the UN's website.

  So will the $2.1 billion be withheld? Particularly as the head of UN Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, continues to cover up alleged mass rapes in Tabit in Darfur, and refuses to answer Press questions about it?

  Tales from the Cromnibus will continue.

On November 20 amid unanswered questions in Darfur about UN Peacekeeping's investigation of and reporting on attacks on civilians, including 200 alleged rapes in Taabit,  UN Police Adviser Stefan Feller and UNAMID Police chief Hester Panera took question from the Press.

 Inner City Press asked Panera about her Mission's (in) action on Thabit, including issuing a November 9 press release claiming the residents get along well with Sudanese security, without mentioning that the interviews were conducted with these security officials present.

  Panera told Inner City Press, "We have to realize we are working in a sitution with very strong spoilers... There were statements by the Secretary General in this regard. We are going to follow up further, we are sending teams to try and get more information." Video here.

   So is the allegation that those reporting rape are "spoilers"? Or the UNAMID whistleblower? And how can it be said UNAMID is sending teams, when the government has blocked access for a second time?

  One year (or 364 days) ago, Inner City Press asked Feller about accountability, specifically, a UN Police officer who after being charged with sexual abuse and exploitation in Haiti fled by plane to Canada. Inner City Press first asked about this in April 2013 and was told "DPKO says that the case is still under investigation by the Canadian authorities."

  Feller on last year did follow through, like his Police Adviser predecessor Marie Orler, and provide a response to Inner City Press' question. Feller is significantly more responsive that the overall boss of UN Peacekeeping, video compilation here, Vine here. But the lack of accountability is pervasive.

   A year ago, the answer, through Police Division Communications Officer Zoe Mentel, was: "Regarding the case you asked the Police Adviser about this morning, we did check into this matter and it is currently under investigation with the police-contributing country."

  And on November 20, 2014, Feller gave a "generic" answer but did not provide any specific information about this case, whether the defendant who fled was cleaned or disciplined. Is it any wonder people doubt "zero tolerance" at the UN?

   That's seven months after Inner City Press was given in essence the same answer. UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous allowed the Congolese Army to go a full year on the 135 rapes in Minova by the 41st and 391st Battalions, to which the UN still provides support.

  Is his Department's cover up in Darfur, including on the rape allegations in Thabit, really any surprise? What will the Ramos Horta review panel do about this?

  Some might wonder if the hope isn't just that the Canadian case goes away. But that is not accountability; it is not transparency or the rule of law. Given the wider UN's attempt to evade substantial charges of bringing cholera to Haiti, MINUSTAH's reputation is already in question in the country. The questions will continue.

  Watch this site.

Footnote: While the moderator, the Ladsous spokesman who in September tried to block Inner City Press' filming from the General Assembly stakeout, called first on UNCA then AFP, he did as third question call on Inner City Press, or rather, as he said, "Foonca," the Free UN Coalition for Access, which is fine. And the question asked was of the type that, when put to Ladsous, Ladsous has said "I do not respond to you Mister." But the questions will continue to be asked, and should be answered. We'll see.


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