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After Meeting Bashir, UN's Ladsous Tells AFP “I Cannot Accept Impunity"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 6 -- For UN Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous has been the worst of both worlds.

  He is soft on France's historic and colonial allies -- the army of Chad which recruits child soldiers, the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo and militias they support, on the rapes in Minova and most recently the Group of Experts report the full text of which Inner City Press exclusively put online.

  To try to make up for or cover it that up, Ladsous now talks and plays rough, bragging about a killing in Darfur and “keeping the body.” This is not the UN; at least, it is not what the UN is supposed to be. But it is what Ladsous is turning UN Peacekeeping into.

At the UN's July 5 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked about Ladsous' extraordinary and ghoulish quote in Khartoum, where he met ICC indictee Omar al Bashir, that a “UNAMID patrol...kept a body of one of the assailants.” But even worse was coming. From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: Mr. Ladsous said of an attack on a UNAMID patrol in East Darfur that the UN kept the body of one of the assailants and hopes to identify, using that body, the gunmen who attacked the peacekeepers. And I just wonder, is that common? What's the legality of keeping the body of an opposing, I guess of an assailant?

Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq: Well, regarding the question of the body... one assailant was killed and the body was handed over to Government authorities.

  Then Agence France Presse, among with Reuters at the UN Ladsous' go-to place for unquestioning coverage or mere transcription of what he says, ran an interview -- exclusive, to be sure -- of Ladsous in Khartoum.

AFP allowed Ladsous to say, without any question, that "I cannot accept impunity.” This is laughable. When two units of the Congolese Army which Ladsous' DPKO supports, the 41st and 391st Battalions, committed 135 rapes at Minova in November, Ladsous spend four months trying to cover it up.

Ladsous refused to answer any Press questions about it. He took AFP, Reuters and Voice of America (which on July 5 mis-reported Nyala as “Nyla”) into the hallway for a private briefing after which nothing was reported about the Minova rapes. Video here.

Even when forced to say something about the rapes, he did it to favored scribes -- and then didn't follow through, continuing DPKO support to the units even thought only two soldiers have been arrested, for 135 rapes. Ladsous very much CAN and does accept impunity.

A week ago Inner City Press asked all four of Ladsous' spokespeople -- Kieran Dwyer, Andre-Michel Essoungou, Josephine Guerrero and Anayansi Lopez -- a simple question.

Inner City Press asked whether Congolese Army units listed in the Group of Experts report the full text of which Inner City Press exclusively put online, as credited by BBC and Bloomberg News, have received support from the UN's (and Ladsous') MONUSCO.

That same day receipt was acknowledged by Anayansi Lopez and a DPKO answer promised. A week later, nothing. The question has been put MONUSCO, by the new Free UN Coalition for Access, through @FUNCA_info. MONUSCO like other missions has become less responsive under Ladsous than previously under Le Roy or even Jean-Marie Guehenno. This is Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping, and its approach to impunity. Watch this site.

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