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On Mali, Koenders on Dutch Copters, Rape Probe Not Finished But Foretold

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 23 -- Back in January regarding gang rape charges against UN peacekeepers in Mali the UN told Inner City Press, "the Government of Chad has further advised the Department of Peacekeeping Operations that it has completed the national investigation."

    On April 9, Inner City Press asked DPKO chief Herve Ladsous what the results of the completed investigation had been, but he refused to answer, click here for that.

  And so on April 23 Inner City Press put the question to the UN's Mali envoy Bert Koenders. More than three months after the DPKO told Inner City Press the investigation was completed, Koenders said it will only be finished in "two or three weeks." Video here, from Minute 3:39.

   Even though by his account the investigation is not finished, he said "we have found very little evidence of sexual violence by Chadian troups... at first glance some of the accusations have not bee proven."

   While Koenders unlike Ladsous at least purported to respond to this question, and one about Dutch attack helicopters bound for Mali, there is a lack of clarity. Beyond the "completed" investigation by Chad, is there another, UN investigation? Are there preliminary findings based on which Koenders said what he did? As with the rapes in Minova in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by DPKO's partners in the Congolese Army, we will continue to pursue this issue.

  Inner City Press also asked about the five Dutch helicopter's Mali's foreign minister Abdulaye Diop had told it about earlier in the morning. Koenders said, "We welcome contribution of Dutch government," specifying three Apache attack helicopters in May, and two transport helicopters in September or October.

  Koenders cited all information fusion, being the ears and eyes on extremist groups. Earlier, Inner City Press asked Foreign Minister Diop if such information will be shared with his government, or only within MINUSMA and its troop contributing countries. Diop said he didn't know. So this, too, will require clarification

  As an aside, later on April 23 the UN's envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay complained of the lack of helicopters from the AMISOM mission. It left one wondering about how the UN is run: did the Netherlands give the copters to Mali because one of its nationals is the UN's envoy there? We hope to have more on this.

  On April 23 when Inner City Press asked Malian foreign minister Diop for an update on dialogue in Kidal, and on the stated investigation of the shooting of civilian demonstrators there, he replied that he is too new in the position to answer on the probe. He said there is a new chief negotiator for the armed groups and what he called, in a Nixonian phrase, the "silent majority." Where did the last ten weeks go?

  Back on January 16 the UN Spokesperson's Office sent Inner City Press this response, which does not answer the question of accountability. But here it is, in full:

Subject: Your question on Mali
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 3:23 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

In response to your question about the follow-up to the allegations of sexual assault by United Nations peacekeepers in MINUSMA in September 2013, we have received the following information:

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations officially notified the Government of Chad of these allegations in late September. The Government of Chad officially responded, saying that it would take responsibility for the investigations. The Government of Chad has further advised the Department of Peacekeeping Operations that it has completed the national investigation, and the United Nations awaits advice on the outcome of the investigations and follow-up accountability measures as appropriate.

  The UN is waiting for "advice" -- but will it ever make it public? How else can the UN's stated Human Rights Due Diligence Policy be assessed?

  On January 17, Inner City Press asked UN acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about it. From the UN's transcript, video here and embedded below:

Inner City Press: On Mali, I wanted to thank you for this written answer you gave yesterday afternoon that Mali has said that its completed its investigation of the alleged rape in Mali by the Chadian troops. And it said that the UN awaits advice on the outcome of the investigation. And what I wanted to know is whether… what part of that is going to be made public, given both the human rights due diligence policy, etcetera? I appreciate you saying that the investigation is finished, but, has… did they clear the soldiers? Were the soldiers found guilty? Where does it stand?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: As we emailed to you, the Mission does await advice on the outcome of the proceedings. We know that there have been proceedings regarding the case. You know this is a case regarding sexual assault and so, we await further information from that. We’ll try to make public what we can of the information that we receive.

Inner City Press: So, they literally just told you that it’s complete, but…no indication on what was done? I guess I wonder when --

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: The information I have in the email that was sent to you is the information we have. If we have any further updates, we’ll share it with you at that point.

  Two weeks later, nothing. So what will members of the Security Council ask, find and make public?

  One of the UN's other too-few criticisms of military action in north Mail, the shooting into a crowd of protesters in Kidal on November 28, was disputed in the Security Council on January 16.

  In a statement prepared like a defense attorney, trying raise reasonable doubt, Mali's Permanent Representative Sekou Kasse said that the UN Mission MINUSMA elements closest to the shooting were 400 meters away, precluding them from "objective" testimony.

  The argument made was one must wait for the ballistic analysis ordered by the Malian government itself. Inner City Press asked Mali's foreign minister on April 23. Watch this site.


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