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On UN Drones, HRW After Refusing to State Position Comes Out in Favor

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 13 -- With the UN and its head of Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous proposing using drones but refusing to answer who would get the video and information feed, Inner City Press twice last week asked Human Rights Watch and its director Ken Roth for HRW's position on the UN using drones.

  HRW, which previously answered Inner City Press' question about its payment of "transport fees" to people willing to testify against the M23 rebels in Eastern Congo, this time did not answer.

  The drone question, as before, was sent by e-mail on January 9 and then January 10 to HRW's UN director, to its press office and to Roth (and to another HRW official)

"Still waiting for HRW response to the Press question below for HRW's position on the proposed used of drones or UAVs, in MONUSCO and/or elsewhere. Please advise. Also, renewed request for disclosure of at least the TOPICS of HRW's / Ken Roth's meeting(s) with Ban Ki-moon and/or Herve Ladsous (if ever), and the dates of such meetings. On deadline."

  The latter question arose when HRW refused to provide the public with even a summary of the issues HRW and Roth raised to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a meeting on Ban's schedule.

  It seems clear HRW and Roth must tell their (big) donors what they raise to the UN. Why not the public?

   But that may be part of the issue here: under Roth and his current UN director, HRW has gone so "pro UN" that it may not want to openly criticize a UN proposal -- for the same reason HRW gave to Inner City Press for refusing to summarize the topics Roth raised to Ban: to maintain "access."

   In its silence on drones, HRW was ignoring a major UN issue, and the questions raised on January 8 by at least five members of the Security Council including Guatemala, including who would get the information, compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization rules, and how the procurement would be done (several C-34 members told Inner City Press they suspect Ladsous has French military contactor Thales in mind).

   HRW's strange silence on UN drones also seems to have a second explanation. Roth and HRW are "all in" with criticism of Rwanda for supporting the M23 rebels in the Congo. So much so that HRW has had nothing to say about the Congolese Army's 126 rapes in Minova in late November, and the UN's and DPKO's Ladsous inaction on their supposed Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.

   Human Rights Watch silent on the non-implementation by the UN of a Human Rights Policy? To some, this was proof that HRW has lost its way under Roth.

   To others, the definitive proof came on January 11 when Ken Roth tweeted, regarding the UN's UAV proposal, "Surveillance drones don't shoot people. They watch forces that do the shooting (or supply them). Why would Rwanda object?"

   So there IS a HRW position, it appears: in favor of the UN using drones. Watch this site.

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