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US Confirms to ICP Power Raised Minova Rapes In DRC, What of UN Policy?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- As UN Peacekeeping continues to provide military support to two Congolese Army units implicated in 135 rapes in Minova last November, despite a lack of any prosecutions, who will hold the UN accountable to its own "Human Rights Due Diligence Policy"?

  Under that policy, the UN should not provide support to national or regional security forces engaged in human rights abuses - of which mass rape must be considered.

  After running into stonewalling by UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous (video here, UK coverage here), continued on Monday by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky, Inner City Press asked the US Mission to the UN for the position of Ambassador Samantha Power on what would or should for the UN to actually suspend aid to an army unit?

  Inner City Press also requested a summary of the response, if any, of President Joseph Kabila (or DRC ministers) to questions on the Minova rapes -- as Inner City Press first reported Ambassador Power had to her credit raised.

  Late on Monday, a UN Mission official provided this answer to Inner City Press:

"The United States continues to take very seriously reports that Congolese armed forces (FARDC) committed mass rapes and other human rights abuses in and around Minova in eastern DRC following the fall of Goma in November 2012. We condemn these crimes unequivocally and have called for a full and credible investigation. The United States continues to stress to the DRC government the importance of thoroughly investigating and bringing to a swift resolution the prosecution of the grievous crimes alleged to have occurred in Minova. As you know, Ambassador Power and raised this issue during the Security Council visit to Congo earlier this month, and other senior U.S. officials continue to raise this as well."

  This appreciated answer is published in full, and one wonders of these "other senior U.S. officials" include former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, now US Special Envoy on the Great Lakes.

  But it is not (only) a bilateral issue between the US and DRC, even though the fact that the 391st Battalion, implicated in the rapes, was U.S. trained makes it that as well.

  Rather, the US should be willing to hold UN Peacekeeping to its own stated principles. As asked, If 135 rapes and no convictions after 11 months is not enough for the UN to suspend aid to these two Congolese Army units, what is?

While UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay's spokesperson Rupert Colville earlier this year sent Inner City Press a summary of the policy, despite a direct request to Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky at noon on Monday, by midnight no copy of the policy had been provided. But Nesirky insists the (withheld) policy is being adhered to. Video here.

This is not the transparency which should be expected, and demanded, from the UN. We'll have more on this. For now for a longer form analysis, on Beacon Press, click here. Watch this site.


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