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Evading Haiti Cholera Case, UN Won't Confirm Refusing Papers, DRC Reprisals

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 21 -- With the UN now akin to a scofflaw, its spokesperson on Thursday refused to confirm or explain refusing even service of the court papers.

   When the lawyers in the class action suit for victims of the UN bringing cholera to Haiti tried to serve the complaint, they told Inner City Press on Wednesday, the UN "refused to physically receive process."

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Farhan Haq on Thursday to confirm and explain -- but he said there was nothing more to say, that previous statements explain it. Video here and embedded below.

  So did then UN lawyer Patricia O'Brien ruling the adminstrative claims were "not receivable" mean her successor Miguel de Serpa Soares wouldn't even "receive" the court case papers?

  The lawyers tell Inner City Press they aim to ask for permission for an alternate mode: service by publication. Those are the legal notices published in newspapers, often putting deadbeat parents on notice their wages will be garnished. How has the UN fallen this low?

  The victims' lawyers anticipate the UN, once it is served if only by newspaper publication, making a motion to dismiss on the grounds that it is immune. But, they say, no remedy has been provided, nor any alternative mechanism.

  Just as Sri Lanka military figure, now Deputy Permanent Representative Shavendra Silva successfully did, the US State Department will be asked to make a court filing supporting immunity.

  This time, the lawyers say, there will be a campaign to ask the State Department not to support impunity, with letters to Secretary of State John Kerry including from members of Congress.  Would newly appointed US Mission reform ambassador Leslie Berger Kiernan play a role in this?

  On Tuesday evening, Inner City Press filmed as State Department official Victoria Holt heard the UN's Edmond Mulet essentially blame the cholera deaths on Haitian under-development; when given the floor, Holt said nothing about this. Video here; longer form analysis by this author here, on Beacon Reader.

  In the UN Press Briefing Room, for seven days now Inner City Press has waited for a UN answer to a yes or no question: has UN Peacekeeping established any of the Standing Claims Commissions provided for its its Status of Forces Agreements.

  On November 14, UN acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said that actually setting these up depends on the request of the mission's host government. But that not only ignores the power relations, it does not answer the yes or no question: has any Standing Claims Commissions been set up?

  Haq referred to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. But its chief Herve Ladsous has refused to answer basic questions, such as about the 135 rapes at Minova by UN Peacekeeping's partners in the Congolese Army. Video here, UK coverage here. So would will this simple question be answered?

  Not on November 18. Asked again, Haq said the question had been put to UN Peacekeeping, but it's "not a yes or no question." Video here. If the answer's yes, can't it be said in four days? And if no - what's the explanation? Or does the UN Peacekeeping under Ladsous think they can just not answer?

  Waiting two days, and after filming UN Peacekeeping deputy Edmond Mulet Tuesday night, here, Inner City Press, on November 20 asked Haq again, saying it had been six days. Haq replied that counting days is not helpful. But how can UN Peacekeeping not answer a basic question in seven days? We will keep asking. Watch this site.

Footnote: also on Thursday, Inner City Press asked the UN's Haq for an update on previous answers that the UN Mission in the Congo MONUSCO was "verifying" reprisal attacks in Bunagana and Kiwanja. These was no update. So is the UN checking or not?


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