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After UN Accepted Nepalese Arrested for Torture, Ban Waives Immunity

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 10 -- It was confirmed to Inner City Press on January 7, by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky, that a Nepalese "expert on mission" in the UN Mission in South Sudan was arrested in London, for torture.

 Since then, Inner City Press asked Nesirky, "does the Nepalese Colonel from UNMISS have immunity? Has the Secretary General been asked to waive immunity?"

  Inner City Press cited the relevant UN provision:

"SECTION 23. Privileges and immunities are granted to experts in the interests of the United Nations and not for the personal benefit of the individuals themselves. The Secretary-General shall have the right and the duty to waive the immunity of any expert in any case where, in his opinion, the immunity would impede the course of justice and it can be waived without prejudice to the interests of the United Nations."

  The UN replied to Inner City Press:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 3:47 PM
Subject: Your question on the Nepalese Colonel
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

The Nepalese Colonel is an expert on mission serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Although experts on Mission are entitled to the privileges and immunities under Article VI and VII of the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, in light of the facts of this case, the Secretary-General has determined that the Colonel does not enjoy immunity from legal process in respect of the alleged acts, which do not relate to the performance of his official functions as an expert on mission, and indeed are alleged to have taken place long before he joined UNMISS. The Secretary-General has also waived the Colonel's immunity from personal arrest and detention.

  But why didn't the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations vet this torturer before deployment to South Sudan? 

  Inner City Press has  asked how can it be that the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations does not vet those it sends to countries like South Sudan, but rather leaves it up to the Troop Contributing Country, which obviously would not agree that it own soldiers were war criminals?

  Nesirky replied that the person at issue -- he has been named as Colonel Kumar Lama -- was an "expert on mission" in UNMISS, and the DPKO expected Nepal to vet him.

  Inner City Press asked if there is any class of peacekeeping personnel which the UN itself vets. The question was not immediately answered. Instead, reference was made to a forthcoming or "being rolled out" policy on vetting.

  Where is the policy? Inner City Press asked if this new policy would apply to the Congolese soldiers in Minova during the 126 rapes in late November, about which DPKO chief Herve Ladsous has three times on camera refused to answer Press questions.

  Nesirky replied with "three words," or two words: vetting UN personnel. So although Ladsous' DPKO supports and works with units of the Congolese army which it will not specify, this new vetting policy will not apply to them, even if they committed mass rape in Minova.

  Ladsous' DPKO and its missions are getting weaker and weaker. Recently UN whistleblowers complained to Inner City Press that the mission in Darfur, UNAMID, gave the Sudanese government veto rights over its Civil Protection Strategy.

  "It went to the Country Team then to the Sudanese government in September," a source told Inner City Press. "And nothing since. There is no leadership from headquarters."

  The "strategy" has not been heard from since.

 Inner City Press asked on January 7; as of January 10 there has been no answer. Watch this site.

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