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Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


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On Sri Lanka UN Guterres Belatedly Mentioned Geneva Commitments After Hanaa Singer Sung Praise of Sirisena

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT Lanka

UNITED NATIONS GATE, November 2 – With Mahinda Rajapaksa who oversaw the 2009 war crimes dubbing the bloodbath on the beach on October 26 named the country's prime minster by Sirisena whom UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has praised, and now his brother Gotabaya set to be appointed defense secretary despite or because of his role in 2009, one was long awaiting Guterres chiming in on Sirisena's troubling moves. He finally did, lamely - even as he is poised to raise money on December 5 for a committee headed by the former landlord of Rajapaksa's ambassador Palitha Kahona, Giampaolo Pioli, who despite or because of this connection held a "UN screening" of Rajapaksa's war crimes denial film "Lies Agreed To" in the the UN Dag Hammasarkjold Library under the banner of the UN Correspondents Alliance. On October 31, as Guterres was trying to get Inner City Press thrown out of Park East Synagogue before his speech, Inner City Press sent his spokesmen questions including "October 31-4: On Sri Lanka, what is the SG's comment and action on that “Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has written to President urging him to reconvene Parliament immediately. In a letter to the President, Jayasuriya said that he has received a request from 125 Parliamentarians to reconvene Parliament. He said that the political instability in the country can be resolved only by reconvening Parliament”? While ignoring the other questions including about Guterres' attempted censorship at the synagogue, his deputy spokesman Farhan Haq past 1 pm on November 2 sent this canned readout to Inner City Press: "On your question October 29-1, we have the following:  The Secretary-General spoke by telephone with H.E. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka, on 1 November. The Secretary-General informed the President that he was following the latest developments in Sri Lanka with concern and offered assistance in facilitating a dialogue with all the parties to resolve the situation. He emphasized the Government’s responsibility to ensure peace, security and respect for the rule of law. The Secretary-General urged the President to revert to Parliamentary procedures and allow the Parliament to vote as soon as possible. He encouraged the Government to uphold its earlier commitments to human rights, justice and reconciliation, in line with Human Rights Council resolutions." In Sri Lanka it was reported that on the afternoon of October 29 "US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, and a Special Envoy to the United Nations will meet with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya at Parliament at 3pm and 3.30pm respectively, the Speaker's Office confirmed." Inner City Press asked Guterres Spokesman Stephane Dujarric in writing, "please immediately deny or confirm if there is a UN Special Envoy meeting the Parliament speaker, if confirm state who she or he is, with whom including which states the SG consulted, if he has raised the crisis to the UNSC and if not, why not, and last week's UNanswered question on the harassed Tamil journalist(s)." The journalist harassment question was not answered - of course not - but this came: "On question 29-1, the Resident Coordinator met with the Speaker of Parliament and conveyed the importance of respecting democratic values and constitutional provisions and the process, upholding the rule of law and ensuring the safety and security of all Sri Lankans." An attempt to look up the UN Resident Coordinator on UNDP Sri Lanka's "About Us - Our Team" page found only Latin filler or nonsense, photo here ("Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet," etc.) Typical information dead-zone from the UN, which refuses to answer Inner City Press' questions for days despite a claimed commitment this would happen from Guterres' Under Secretary General Alison Smale to UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression David Kaye. There was an ascerbic answer on October 30. Inner City Press asked, " October 30-2: On Sri Lanka, please state the name of the UN Resident Coordinator who met the Parliament speaker yesterday, and explain why the UN Team website for country, rather than having this name, has Latin nonsense filler." This was the only one of Inner City Press' five new questions on the day that Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq responded to: "On question 30-2, RC Hanaa Singer’s name is clearly on the country team website." But they still didn't fix the "Our Team" site -they took down the Latin (guilty knowledge, mens rea) but now it is simply blank. The RC is Hanaa Singer, from Egypt, and her Tweets gush about Sirisena, nothing on the coup. This is Guterres' "reformed" UN system. Who might this UN Special Envoy have been, if Guterres had actually done something? Previously the UN sent Vijay Nambiar, who participated in a murky way in the White Flag killings. We'll have more on this. In New York, Giampaolo Pioli is the Chair of the 2018 UNCA Awards honoring Antonio Guterres, who has since similarly sold out civilians in Anglophone Cameroon, at Cipriani's in a former bank on 42nd Street. The "insider" tickets are $100 but for corporations, including in the past UN briber Ng Lap Seng, much more. Now the new face of UNCA Sherwin Bryce Pease is trying to erase this history with belated re-tweets of Guterres' belated lame comments on Sri Lanka, after giving him and USG Alison Smale their weak green light to rough up and ban the Press which asks about the slaughter of the Tamils and Cameroon's Anglophones and the UN's failure. This is the UN Censorship Alliance: not only silent on but fully behind the roughing up and placing on a secret permanently banned from the UN list the Press which asking about Sri Lanka, Cameroon, and Guterres' use of public funds and failure to edit the UN bribery cases. This has given rise to question from the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression David Kaye, here - but nothing from this UNCA, now the UN Censorship Alliance. Their Executive Committee members include but are not limited to Valeria Robecco, ANSA News Agency, Melissa Kent, CBC/Radio-Canada, Jianguo Ma, Xinhua News Agency, Carole Landry, Agence France Presse, Seana Magee, Kyodo News, Nabil Abi Saab, Al Hurra TV, Michelle Nichols, Reuters, Luke Vargas, Talk Media News and Giampaolo Pioli, Quotidiano Nazionale, etc. We'll have more on this. Since Inner City Press which has covered the UN's failure on Sri Lanka since 2008 has, only under Guterres, been roughed up and banned, despite a dubious claim by Guterres' Under Secretary General Alison Smale to UNSR David Kaye that e-mailed questions to Spokesman Stephane Dujarric would be answered, asked this publicly: "On Sri Lanka, question by banned Inner City Press to @AntonioGuterres @StephDujarric that shouldn't even have to be asked:  where is the UNSG statement on coup & installation of war crimes accusee Gotabaya Rajapaksa as defense minister?" For eighteen hours from the UN, nothing. The US came out with this, via State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert: "The United States continues to follow developments in Sri Lanka with concern.  We urge all sides to refrain from intimidation and violence.  We call on the President, in consultation with the Speaker, to immediately reconvene parliament and allow the democratically elected representatives of the Sri Lankan people to fulfill their responsibility to affirm who will lead their government."  By contrast, after 18 hours, from the UN this: "The Secretary-General is following the latest developments in Sri Lanka with great concern. He calls on the Government to respect democratic values and constitutional provisions and process, uphold the rule of law and ensure the safety and security of all Sri Lankans. The Secretary-General urges all parties to exercise restraint and address the unfolding situation in a peaceful manner."  No mention even of the Sirisena goverrnment's "commitments," like Smale's, to the UN's human rights mechanisms. The question had been multiply re-tweeted, and also garnered some pro-Sinhala pro-Rajapaksa trolling echoing threats Inner City Press received amid its previous Sri Lanka coverage. When Inner City Press reported that the UN Correspondents Association's screening of the Rajapaksa government's war crimes denial film "Lies Agreed To" inside the UN might be viewed in the context of the president of UNCA having a financial, landlord - tenant relation with Rajapaksa diplomat Palitha Kohona (himself involved in communications around the White Flag Killings), the UNCA group began lobbying the UN and Dujarric to throw Inner City Press out of the UN - which in fact took place this year on July 3. We'll have more on this - Guterres is using the same group and helping it raise more money, while silent on the return of the Rakapaksas. For now from Guterres and his head of DPA Rosemary DiCarlo, nothing - canned statements on other matters from an empty mansion.  The UN is more and more irrelevant and complicit, as in Cameroon. Already, for example, the US has said this: "The US is following events in Sri Lanka. We call on all parties to act in accordance with SL’s constitution, refrain from violence, and follow due process. We expect gov of SL to uphold its Geneva commitments to human rights, reform, accountability, justice, and reconciliation." Guterres, coming in late, didn't even mention the government's commitments to the UN. The Sri Lanka question Inner City Press, subject to a ban from the UN by Guterrs which even Ban Ki-moon didn't do, submitted before the coup has not been answered or acknowledged. Here is the question - which Guterres' Alison Smale has now three times promised would be answered - submitted by Inner City Press to her, Stephane Dujarric, Amina J. Monhammed and others: "October 26-2: On Sri Lanka, what is the SG's comment and action on the fact that Tamil journalist Uthayarasa Shalin is being harassed on entirely spurious grounds in Jaffna, where he reports for the Tamil Guardian and Valampuri,  ever since he was summoned for questioning at TID headquarters in Colombo on August 22. Ever since then, Shalin has been the target of constant harassment by the police in Jaffna that has included arrests and insults. The acts of intimidation have increased this month, with five of his friends and relatives being summoned for interrogation by the TID, including his brother Jelsin on 17 October." No response. The UN's record on Sri Lanka gets worse and worse. UN Peacekeeper chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix has been multiply informed including by Inner City Press' in-person questions before it was roughed up and banned from the UN that the Sri Lanka government vetting of peacekeepers the UN has relied on has not been complied with. Now on October 19, with Inner City Press banned from the UN by Secretary General Antonio Guterres for the 108th day, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said "in response to previous question" - that would be Inner City Press' questions - he was disclosing the the commander of the Sri Lanka contingent in Mali is being repatriated. Now Tamil journalist Uthayarasa Shalin is being harassed on entirely spurious grounds in Jaffna, where he reports for the Tamil Guardian and Valampuri,  ever since he was summoned for questioning at TID headquarters in Colombo on August 22. Per RSF he was not allowed to bring his lawyer to the first interrogation. [The UN, when it purported to interview Inner City Press on July 10 about it being roughed up on July 3 said nothing could be recorded - then refused to write up what was said.] RSF said that ever since then, Shalin has been the target of constant harassment by the police in Jaffna that has included arrests and insults. The acts of intimidation have increased this month, with five of his friends and relatives being summoned for interrogation by the TID, including his brother Jelsin on 17 October. At the UN, correspondents tell Inner City Press they have been intimidated and are afraid to ask about its ouster. The UN Spokesman didn't give the facts of the commander's war crimes, and the one lame follow up by scribe not banned from the UN didn't elicit it. A full two hours after the briefing - and after their scribe, one of Dooj's Stooges, got out a vapid story with no analysis of the UN's failures in Sri Lanka in 2008 and since and on intentional incomplete vetting, based on no question on their part, Dujarric's deputy sent this to Inner City Press: "regarding your earlier question about a Sri Lankan peacekeeper in Mali, we have the following: Following a review of the human rights background of the commander of the Sri Lankan contingent (Lt Col Kalana Priyankara Lankamithra Amunupure) deployed to MINUSMA, the Secretariat has requested the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to immediately repatriate him to Sri Lanka. This will be done at their cost, as per normal procedure.  This decision to repatriate the commander was made by the UN following a review, based on recently received information.  The Secretariat remains engaged with the Permanent Mission on this matter." On October 22, Inner City Press asked in writing, because banned by Guterres: "October 22-5: Sri Lanka says it will “appeal” the repatriation of Lt Col Amunupure. What are the provisions, if any, for such an appeal? Where is he now? What more will the UN say about what it found, and why was only found post-deployment?" And at 12:46 pm, this from the UN: "Regarding question 22-5, the relevant information on this case is as follows: Following a review of the human rights background of the commander of the Sri Lankan contingent (Lt Col Kalana Priyankara Lankamithra Amunupure) deployed to MINUSMA, the Secretariat has requested the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to immediately repatriate him to Sri Lanka. This will be done at their cost, as per normal procedure.  This decision to repatriate the commander was made by the UN following a review, based on recently received information.  The Secretariat remains engaged with the Permanent Mission on this matter.  The Secretariat has requested the government to urgently identify a potential replacement.

As for why the problem was only found, post-deployment, we can say the following:

The individual was screened by the UN prior to deployment to MINUSMA. New information recently came to light, which resulted in the UN’s decision." The UN is still covering up, or trying to. This is the same UN whose UN Correspondents Association sponsored the goverment's war crimes denial film "Lies Agreed To" in the Dag Hammarskjold Library auditorium with Shavendra Silva and Palitha Kohona. Now this, from ITJPSL: "During the final phase of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009 Amunupure was second in command of the 11th Sri Lanka Light Infantry which operated under the 58th Division. A UN Investigation in 2015 found reasonable grounds to say the 58th Division was involved in the repeated shelling of UN sites and hospitals as well as the killing of surrendees and torture. Amunupure’s unit is named in contemporaneous sources, including governemnt reports1, as having been involved in the assaults on Puthukkudiyiruppu (PTK) town in February 2009 and Putumattalan in March 2009, both of which involved extensive civilian casualties. The UN report described doctors in Putumattalan being unable to reach the dead and dying because of intense shelling and gunfire. At the time the ICRC, which rarely makes public statements, called the impact of the military’s attacks on densely populated civilian areas near Putumattalan’s makeshift hospital “nothing short of catastrophic”. Amunupure was despatched as commander of the Sri Lankan contingent in Mali in December 2017. At his departure ceremony the Sri Lankan army commander described the UN assignment as an international endorsement of the military’s record. 'We still don’t know how many tens of thousands of Tamils died in the 2009 war and not one person has been held accountable – maybe this small step can give survivors a little hope that one day they will get justice. There is no doubt this action sends a very strong message to Sri Lanka that alleged war criminals can no longer be rewarded with prestigious UN jobs and in future will not escape stringent vetting,' and International Truth and Justice Project’s executive director, Yasmin Sooka. Inner City Press was sent a copy of the letters, and published them - then asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric for the UN's response. [See July 21 response, below.]
On July 30 UNSG Antonio Guterres' sleazy basis for roughing up and banning Inner City Press now for life (and the impending UNGA week which Sirisena is slated to attend and pitch at) was reported in the Columbia Journalist Review, and now the NY Post. But on September through Eri Kaneko of his Spokesperson's Office, Guterres offered this shamefully gushing read out: "The Secretary-General met with H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The Secretary-General appreciated the close cooperation between Sri Lanka and the United Nations and thanked Sri Lanka for its contribution to United Nations peacekeeping in particular. The Secretary-General and the President also discussed Sri Lanka’s efforts in the peace and reconciliation process. The Secretary-General offered continued support in this regard. They also discussed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development." Really. Meanwhile Sri Lanka which used cluster munitions is now President of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. "In Sri Lanka’s case they have driven many de-miners and UN staff out of the country and effectively silenced the witnesses. There are also many victims among recent refugees outside Sri Lanka in countries like Switzerland; their geographic dislocation should not diminish their rights as victims,” said Jasmin Sooka of ITJPSL. “The Convention requires Sri Lanka to undertake a victim survey which should include victims abroad subject to internationally recognized witness protection provisions.”  Inner City Press has repeatedly asked Dujarric, "September 17-2: It is multiply reported that Sri Lanka during the upcoming high level week will make a presentation to the SG about, among other things, limited the currently stated vetting of Sri Lanka troops for participation in alleged war crimes. Please state the date of any meeting of the SG with President Sirisena, and state the UN's / SG's view of the current vetting system, including seeming lack of compliance by Sri Lanka. What is the status of Sri Lankan deployments and/or rotations?" As of September 20, no answer. But this, from JDS: "Month Crime Security forces Location July 2018 Abduction, Torture
and Murder
3 Unknown Mullaithivu District
July 2018 Shot dead Unknown Mullaithivu District
June 2018 Rape of 2 children
18th National Guard -Army
Batticaloa District
June 2018 Torture of 2 men Police Valvettithurai, Jaffna District January 2018 Abduction Unknown Trincomalee
District November 2017 Abduction in a
white van
Unknown group Jaffna District
November 2017 Attempted white
van abduction
Unknown group Colombo District
Nov 2016- Sep 2017 9 extrajudicial
killings and 1 murder
No details Several police
stations and remand prison July 2017 Attempted white
van abduction,
Colombo Crimes Division (CCD)
April 2017 White van
abduction, torture, disappearance
Police Gampola District
April 2017 Abduction of
teenage girl, disappearance
Unknown Kilinochchi District
April 2017 White van
abduction and disappearance
Unknown but was due to appear in court
Jaffna District
February 2017 Abduction in black
van of Sinhalese trades union leader
Unknown Kalutara District
January 2017 2 ex LTTE
rehabilitees re- arrested
TID Kilinochchi District.
October 2016 Abduction and
Victim refused to say. Family suspect TID.
Kilinochchi District.
Inconvenient Truths: the newspapers they didn’t read | JDS
August 2016 Abduction of ex
Unknown A9 LTTE cadre May 2016 - gagana Protests against 2
abductions in white van
Ampara District
July 2016 Abduction in white
van and torture
Jaffna Peninsula
April 2016 White van abduction
Unknown security forces
Unknown Jaffna Peninsula
April 2016 White van abduction
TID Thirukkovil
April 2016 White van abduction
Jaffna Peninsula
Abduction of TNA youth wing leader April 2016 11 Abductions –
probably including Sri Lanka Campaign names
April 2016 Abduction Trincomalee April 2016 Abduction in white
van of 2 ex LTTE fishermen
Edward Julien related
Jaffna Peninsula
April 2016 Abduction of 3 ex
Dec 2015 Report that
Families threatened
Found in TID custody in Colombo Military Intelligence"

In Sri Lanka, the chickens may be coming home Mahinda Rajapaksa with whom the UN partnered - even as now under Antonio Guterres there is no accountability in the UN, see below. Now even the UN Committee Against Torture has gone public with the "new" government's failure to provided requested information on "Mr. Mendis’s role and responsibilities with regard to allegations of torture while he was Deputy Inspector General of the Criminal Investigation Department." We hope to have more on this.   (At the UN, nothing has been done to Dobbins, and still no names.) Noyahr was abducted in May 2008 and was severely assaulted before being set free. The former Associate Editor of The Nation newspaper fled the country with his family following the incident fearing for his life." That, it seems, is what Guterres' UN is trying.

 Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric in an article published July 30 by the Columbia Journalism Review was quoted that " Lee Periscoped while shouting, 'Fuck you!' repeatedly. (Lee says he was complaining that Dujarrac had given the Al Jazeera crew a private interview, and excluded him.) 'He creates an atmosphere of incivility within our working environment,' Dujarrac says."  This is a lie. Inner City Press on June 19 when Dujarric gave a "private briefing" to Al Jazeera about Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo announcing the US pull out from the UN Human Right Council said in the hall that is was a "sleazefest." After closing the door of the focus booth it has been confined to work in for two years by Dujarric, and long after the Al Jazeera trio including James Bayes and Whitney Hurst were done, said on Periscope, F-You. Periscope video - still online during this 27 day "investigation" - here. So Dujarric is a censor, justifying the beating up and banning of a journalist for something he broadcast in a soundproof booth to his audience. This is disgusting, all the more so because as Inner City Press has reported, Dujarric told an interlocutor on June 20, before the two beat-downs of Inner City Press, that things would be worse for it. Guterres and Dujarric and it seems Smale are.. thugs. Disgusting. On Sri Lanka, the CJR article quotes Inner City Press: "The UN pulled its officers out of the north there before a 2008 ethnic cleansing of the Tamil people, and then underreported the genocide. Forty or fifty thousand people dead. The Sri Lankan government was shooting missiles at hospitals. Ban Ki-moon admitted it." All true. All Dujarric said, at noon on April 6, is that he would check to see that the letter has been received. More than 72 hours later, he had not provided even that confirmation. On July 17, after Lacroix' and Dujarric's boss Antonio Guterres had twice ousted and now banned Inner City Press from the UN for two weeks and counting, Fox News story here, GAP blogs I and II, Independent here, arrogant July 20 no answer here. Independent here, arrogant July 20 no answer here, Inner City Press in writing asked Dujarric and his deputy Farhan Haq, "please provide an update on the (second tier of) vetting of Sri Lanka troops whose deployment was reportedly deployed. Relatedly, confirm or deny that the Indian army unit based in Uri that was struck and struck Kashmir is no longer being deployed to MONUSCO, and the UN's reasoning." The noon briefing Inner City Press was banned from had few questions, none like this, further showing the decline of Guterres' spokesmen's full access colloquy partner, here; three days later Haq had not provided any written answer. (But, while Guterres refused to answer on his ban of Inner City Press after saying "bonnes vacances" to Lacroix, the latter remained chatting with UK Ambassador Karen Pierce on 44th Street, pointedly not responding to a statement about sexual exploitation and abuse by the peacekeepers he is responsible for, video here. On July 21, Inner City Press raised the lack of answers, and asked where Guterres is going for weeks: "July 21-1: where will the UN Secretary General be from July 23 through August 3? How much is it costing the public? USG Smale, also now on three week vacation, has claimed that the SG's spokesmen are answering Inner City Press' email questions. First, for example, none of the four questions submitted yesterday morning, 24 hours ago, has been answered. Second, even if these e-mailed questions were all being answered it does not make up for denying Inner City Press the right not only to attend the noon briefing and other press conferences, but the stakeouts at the Security Council and elsewhere, such as the Budget Committee meeting stakeout I was physically ousted from on July 3. It's 18 days of outright censorship, and counting." Six hours later, only a response on Sri Lanka, four days after that question was asked. Here it is: "Regarding your question on Sri Lankan troops, we can say the following: The Secretariat (DPKO-DFS and OHCHR) is working with the Government of Sri Lanka and all stakeholders, in particular the national Human Rights Commission, to facilitate the establishment of a domestic screening process that complies with the requirements of the Policy on Human Rights Screening of United Nations Personnel. In this regard, DPKO met with Sri Lankan stakeholders in Colombo last month. Compliance with the policy requirements is necessary before the UN can receive any further deployments or rotations from Sri Lanka. It is important that all necessary procedures and institutional arrangements are in place so that the domestic screening process can meet these requirements. National stakeholders are working on finalizing and formally approving their standard operating procedures in line with these requirements, and we are supporting them in this."  The UN under Guterres is failing. On May 16, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq and there was something of an answer. Video here; UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  there has been a long, outstanding issue raised to DPKO about Sri Lankans that were sent unvetted by the Government to Lebanon and another commander that was sent to one of the missions in Africa.  Does DPKO have an answer on that yet? Deputy Spokesman: "regarding the question of the Sri Lankans, as of the past week, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka was conducting an additional tier of vetting for 49 Sri Lankan officers who have been already deployed to the UN Mission in Lebanon, UNIFIL.  The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is undertaking their vetting and the vetting of the remaining 101 military personnel of the unit who are scheduled to be deployed.  We are working together with the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that the screening arrangements with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka comply with UN policy.  Compliance with these arrangements will be required before the UN can receive any further deployments or rotations from Sri Lanka." But the chair of the HRCSL has questioned what the UN meant or means by "additional tier." On May 22, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Sri Lanka, on these… those who were deployed without being vetted, it was said, I think it was last week, that somehow an additional tier of… of vetting is going to be done by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.  They've said — this is a direct quote by the Chairperson — that they don't know what the UN means by an additional tier since there was… had been no vetting whatsoever to begin with, and so they're… it's unclear to them…

Spokesman:  Let me look into it." Hours later, nothing.  Earlier in the process, Dujarric stonewalled on human rights and corruption issues by withholding confirmation for three days, despite written questions each day from Inner City Press, while continuing restrictions on the Press. On April 12, Inner City Press asked yet another, in person at the noon briefing. And hours after that, this written answer came from the UN Office of the Spokesperson - Do Not Reply, presumably from Dujarric given the first person pronoun: "I can confirm that DPKO has received this letter. The Secretariat is committed to ensuring that all personnel serving with the UN meet the highest standards of conduct, competence and integrity, including respect for and commitment to human rights. Member States that provide personnel to UN peacekeeping operations have the responsibility to certify that all these personnel have not been involved, by act or omission, in violations of international humanitarian law or human rights law, and have not been repatriated on disciplinary grounds from a UN operation. In the case of Sri Lanka where there are specific human rights concerns, we put in place additional screening measures in 2016 to help ensure that deployed personnel meet our standards. Prior to their deployment to UNIFIL, the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka provided an attestation certifying that the contingent had not been involved in any violations. However, in February 2018, we learned that the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission - which the Government of Sri Lanka had agreed it would undertake human rights screening of all Sri Lankan personnel - had not yet completed the screening when the rotation of the unit in UNIFIL started. UN Peacekeeping immediately raised this with the Sri Lankan authorities and the deployment was stopped. DPKO has requested that the Sri Lankan government immediately prioritize the completion of the screening for the 49 officers already deployed to UNIFIL. If concerns arise regarding the 49 personnel already deployed to UNIFIL, DPKO may request that they be repatriated and replaced at the Government’s cost. Meanwhile, we’ve asked the Government of Sri Lanka to formalize the screening arrangements with the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission. Compliance with these arrangements will be required before the UN can receive any further deployments or rotations from Sri Lanka. The Government is cooperating with us in this regard." So the Government violated the procedure, after other substantive violations, but the UN says it is cooperating? We'll have more on this. Here is the text of the letter sent to Lacroix, to the UN in Geneva and to Inner City Press:

OHCHR, Geneva
Inner City Press

6 April 2018

Dear Mr. Lacroix,


We write to draw your attention to allegations that the Sri Lankan Army has deployed UN peacekeepers in violation of the vetting agreement it reached with the National Human Rights Commission, as well as their obligation to conduct their own due diligence process to ensure that those who may constitute a risk to peacekeeping are not sent out. The failure to abide by these commitments constitutes a mockery of the whole process. Below are also a few remedial steps we think should be taken now.

The complaint regarding the vetting comes from no less than the country’s National Human Rights Commission (HRCSL), a body appointed by the Government itself. You can see this complaint in a Sinhala letter from the HRCSL to the President of Sri Lanka in his capacity as commander in chief on the HRCSL website. The gist of it has been reported in English by exiled Sri Lankan journalists. It says that the HRCSL and the Sri Lankan Army signed an agreement in 2016 for the HRCSL to vet Sri Lanka’s peacekeepers but the Army deployed 49 of them to Lebanon on 18 February 2018 before this process was complete and they had handed over all the information on them requested by the HRCSL. Indeed, some of the information requested by the HRCSL is said to be still pending.

Ultimately the responsibility lies with your department for the vetting process in terms of the Secretary General’s ‘Zero Tolerance” policy on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) as well as his new policy statement which he announced in 2017 “Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse:  A New Approach”, which has clearly failed spectacularly again in Sri Lanka.  According to the UN, it seeks to ensure that only “individuals with the highest standards of integrity, competence and efficiency” are hired – this has not been the record with regard to Sri Lanka. You will note that to date there has been no criminal accountability for the 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers sent home from Haiti in connection with systematic child sexual exploitation from 2004-7, which was confirmed by an OIOS investigation.

Furthermore, if your department allows peacekeepers from any country to deploy before the vetting process in place is complete, then you are complicit in undermining the vetting process.

We, therefore, call on DPKO:

1.     To confirm whether (a) the 49 peacekeepers from Sri Lanka were indeed deployed on 18 February 2018 without being vetted and (b) explain how this was possible and (c) what you will do to prevent this reoccurring.

2.     To confirm that the deployment constitutes a violation of the Memorandum of Understanding between Troop Contributing Countries and DPKO in respect of vetting.

3.     To inform us whether the HRCSL raised objections about contingent commander Lt. Col Hewage’s deployment before we raised this issue with you in our letter of 14th February. We understand (from the HRCSL letter online) that they had the PHP forms for the 204 Lebanon-bound soldiers from 21 December 2017 so should have been able to identify the problems regarding the contingent commander that we ourselves identified from a quick online search once his name was made public.  Specifically, were concerns raised by the HRCSL before the 18 February 2018 deployment of the 49 men? Their letter suggests they didn’t know the men were about to be deployed, despite the issue being raised by us and being published officially on the army’s website.

4.     To make public the vetting/due diligence criteria used by the HRCSL/OHCHR to screen soldiers. This should not be a secret.

5.     To conduct a retrospective vetting of all other Sri Lankan peacekeepers currently deployed – other than the 200 that went to Mali who were vetted by OHCHR in Geneva.  We know Sri Lankan peacekeepers are currently deployed in many other countries and it’s probable they haven’t been properly vetted for their human rights record."

 So what will the UN do? On the morning of April 6, Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric who evicted Inner City Press from the UN Press Briefing Room where the UN Correspondents Association was meeting blithely said, just go to UNCA. Well, no - Sri Lanka history here. Back in February 2018 Lacroix was informed of the troubling past history in 2008 in Sri Lanka of a commander that country is seeking to deploy to the UN in Lebanon as early as February 18,
Rathnappuli Wasantha Kumara Hewage, Inner City Press was informed and exclusively reported on February 14, and got confirmed from the UN on February 15. Now on February 19, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said that following questions, the deployment of Hewage has been suspended. Video here; transcript: "We were asked last week about a Sri Lankan officer who was scheduled to deploy to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL.  I can confirm that the officer’s deployment is on hold pending a review of the matter.  A decision regarding deployment of this officer will be made once the review is complete. We are in communication with the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka regarding the officer’s background and Sri Lanka is cooperating fully with our inquiries. The United Nations takes reports of potential human rights violations very seriously.  As a matter of policy, we are committed to ensuring that all personnel serving with the UN meet the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, including respect for and commitment to human rights." But why not canceled, given his record? We'll have more on this.

When Lacroix held a rare press conference on January 24, Inner City Press asked him how the UN is vetting “peacekeepers” from Cameroon, as that country's army is burning down whole villages in the Anglophone zones. Lacroix insisted that vetting is intensive. Inner City Press asked about what sources tell it, that the ostensibly vetting of troops from Sri Lanka, after the bloodbath on the beach there, consists of one OHCHR staffer in Geneva. Lacroix said he wasn't sure on that. Video here.

After the press conference Inner City Press was contacted, and ultimately copied on a letter to Lacroix, below. On February 15, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: there's been a letter sent by… by a number of Tamil Sri Lankan groups to Mr. [Jean-Pierre] Lacroix about the… the impending… I guess, some type of a commander in UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon], Mr. [Rathnappuli Wasantha Kumara] Hewage.  And they've documented to him — he's supposed to deploy on Sunday — that, in fact, he was present during 2008 in Kilinochchi, 2009 in PTK.  These were, you know, highly controversial military actions.  So, their complaint is that, in the past, Office of Human Rights of the UN would vet people, and now that doesn't appear to be the case anymore just by…  Have you seen that letter? Spokesman:  We've… DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] has, indeed, received the letter you mentioned.  They are looking into the case of the gentleman that you mentioned with… who's scheduled be deployed to Lebanon.  As a matter of policy, we're committed to ensuring that all personnel serving with the UN meet the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, including respect for and commitment to human rights.  In accordance with existing policy, the UN should neither select nor deploy for service any individual who has been involved in violations of international human rights or humanitarian law.  In reviewing the background of personnel to be deployed, we consider available information from within and outside of the UN system, thus, will review carefully the information that has been provided to us.  Member States that provide UN personnel to peacekeeping operations also have the responsibility to certify that the personnel they nominate have not been involved, by act or omission, in violations of international humanitarian or human rights law or have been repatriated on disciplinary grounds from any UN operation.  In cases where we have concerns regarding the human rights record of specific troop-contributing countries, we put in place additional measures to ensure that the personnel deployed is in line with the UN human rights screening policy. Inner City Press: one follow-up, because I remember Mr. Lacroix specifically commented on this when he did his press conference.  Seems like these… these… these groups are saying that, in the past, the UN review these in Geneva, and now they're relying on Sri Lanka's own human rights commission, and they say the last people were deployed… Spokesman:  I think from what I understood of what I just said, we review both what the Government tells us and external and internal sources." We'll see. Here was the letter, c/o Debbie Berman, Copy to OHCHR, Geneva and InnerCityPress:

Dear Mr. Lacroix, STOP DEPLOYMEMNT OF UN PEACEKEEPER WITH FRONTLINE COMBAT EXPERIENCE IN SRI LANKA’S 2009 WAR - This is to request you to stop the planned deployment to Lebanon on Sunday 18 February 2018 of a Sri Lankan contingent commander with frontline combat command
experience in the final phase of the civil war in 2008-9. We believe that under the UN’s current vetting criteria, this commander should have been screened out of all UN peacekeeping duties. We note that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has been asked to vet UN peacekeepers from Sri Lanka but consider that ultimately the responsibility lies with your department, as according to the UN, it seeks to ensure that only “individuals with the highest standards of integrity, competence and efficiency” are hired. The Sri Lankan Army says Lt. Col. Rathnappuli Wasantha Kumara Hewage is due to head the 12th Force Protection Company (FPC) for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) An online search of Lt. Col. Hewage reveals he was involved in the assault on Kilinochchi town in Northern Sri Lanka on 22 December 2008 and located in PTK in late February 2009."

Inner City Press accompanied and covered Ban Ki-moon's trip to Sri Lanka in 2009, and subsequent acceptance of Shavendra Silva as a senior UN Peacekeeping adviser. After Inner City Press published how Palitha Kohona got his former landlord to sponsor, on behalf of the UN Correspondents Association, a screening of the government's genocide denial film "Lies Agreed To," Inner City Press was threatened with ouster from the UN, which occurred, and Inner City Press is still restricted to minders under the Department of Public Information run by British Alison Smale. Meanwhile as noted in the letter, the UN does less and less human rights vetting. We'll have more on this.

While at least four countries have issued travel warnings in the wake of Bangladesh's arrest and crackdown on the resulting protests, the UN on February 8 hid from the issue, and from the need to better vet the security forces the UN is accepting from Bangladesh in light of the crackdown. Inner City Press asked, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Bangladesh.  I mean, you had said… the arrest took place some time ago, and various countries have put out already travel warnings, so I'm wondering, at a minimum… the UN with its country team there, have they taken note of what's taking place in the street? Deputy Spokesman:  I've told you what I've got on that for now. Inner City Press: given that there's live fire, you say… very recently, DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] put out a statement thanking Bangladesh for its peacekeepers, and I'm sure they've done great work, but there have been repeated issues of abuses by the security forces, or seeming abuses, killing of civilians, use of live fire on protesters.  Can you describe what vetting goes on, and… and the recent spate of… of these thank you, messages put out by DPKO, are they in any relation to… to… to the vetting process that's going on or issues that have arisen in various delegations, contingents of peacekeepers? Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq:  All peacekeepers are vetted to make sure that they have not engaged in any practices that involve the violation of human rights.  And we go through that on a country-by-country basis. Inner City Press: And so have there been any Bangladesh peacekeepers blocked in the last five years, given the events in the country in which units by name have taken place in crackdowns on their own civilians? Deputy Spokesman:  We raise all concerns with any particular members of incoming peacekeeping troops with the troop-contributing country to make sure that no one is deployed who does not meet our standards." What standards are those? In other news, with Maldives' President declaring a state of emergency, on February 5 Inner City Press  asked the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Stephane Dujarric about it at noon on February 5, before the US then spoke, below.  Under Guterres and his outgoing head of Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, both headed to Korea, it took the UN a full 18 hours to come out with two paragraphs on February 6, below. On February 8, UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenca was to brief the UN Security Council about the Maldives under "Any Other Business." But Jenca did not speak to the Press on the way in or out of the Council. Past 2 pm when Kuwait's Ambassador, the President of the Security Council for February, gave a summary of the day's meetings, Maldives wasn't on it. Inner City Press asked, loudly, but no answer; later it was explained that since AOB topics are not listed in the UN Journal, the President feels he cannot speak to it. It would be up to the Secretariat. But under Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretariat says and disclosed less and less. If a briefing on a crackdown happens but no one was speak about it, does it make a sound? Some ask, why is Guterres not sending some sort of envoy or mediator? It can't be that he feels he needs total consent: he sent Nigeria's former president Obasanjo to Kenya, where both sides said they never met with him. So why the different approach to the Maldives? We'll have more on this. The UN's statement from earlier on February 6: "The Secretary-General is seriously concerned about the unfolding situation in the Maldives, in particular the declaration of a state of emergency and the entry of security forces into the Supreme Court premises. The Secretary-General urges the Government of the Maldives to uphold the constitution and rule of law, lift the state of emergency as soon as possible, and take all measures to ensure the safety and security of the people in the country, including members of the judiciary." From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: it seems like President Abdulla Yameen [Abdul Gayoom] has not complied with releasing the opponents.  In fact, he's issued a state of emergency.  I'm wondering, is there… is DPI… is DPA (Department of Political Affairs) actually involved, or is it just… is it issuing statements from New York, or is it trying to speak with him and engage and…? Spokesman:  I think we're very concerned with the ongoing developments in the Maldives, including what we've seen in the last 24 hours.  We're following it very closely.  And I would… you know, the Secretary-General would, again, call on the Government to respect the court ruling and for restraint to be exercised.  And we… I do expect a more formal statement on this shortly." A the UN, shortly means 18 hours. How far will today's UN go to placate some countries, while ignoring others and restricting the Press? On January 26 UN "global communications" chief Alison Smale flew to Charleston, South Carolina for a photo op and UNTV video with China's Xiamen Airlines for having painting the UN's "SDGs" logo on the side of an airplane. This without having answered Press questions about her Department of Public Information's malfeasance with resources allocated by the General Assembly for Kiswahili and about the lack under her "leadership" of any content neutral UN media access rules. Afterward, when Inner City Press asked for the mp4 video of her South Carolina junket - Inner City Press is informed that the plane she celebrated could not in fact fly - it was told to "Ask UN Webcast," which is under Smale. They were asked - and have not given the video. Nor has Smale offered any response to a detailed petition two weeks ago, while re-tweeting her former employer the NYT and current boss Antonio Guterres. But who is making who look bad? And how can a former NYT editor have no content neutral media access rules, and no answers? As she restricts Inner City Press from its UN reporting on Cameroon, Myanmar, Kenya, Yemen and elsewhere? We'll have more on this. While any country would try to get the UN to promote its airline, if the UN would do it, Smale is the UN official who responsible for Inner City Press being restricted and evicted as it reports on the UN bribery scandal of Patrick Ho and China Energy Fund Committee. Smale hasn't even deigned to answer petitions in this regard, in September (she said she recognized the need for the "courtesy" of a response, never given) and in January -- too busy flying to South Carolina to promote an airline:

Today's UN of Antonio Guterres, who just met with ICC indictee Omar al Bashir, and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed who has refused Press questions on her rosewood signatures and now the refoulement of 47 people to Cameroon from "her" Nigeria, has become a place of corruption and censorship. On January 30 as Inner City Press sought to complete its reporting for the day on Guterres' Bashir meeting and Mohammed's Cameroon no-answer, it had a problem. It was invited to the month's UN Security Council president's end of presidency reception, 6:30 to 8:30 - but with its accreditation reduced by censorship, it could not get back into the UN after 7 pm, to the already delayed UN video. It ran to at least enter the reception - but the elevator led to a jammed packed third floor, diplomats lined up to shake the outgoing UNSC president's hand. Inner City Press turn to turn tail back to the UN, passing on its way favored, pro-UN correspondents under no such restriction. Periscope here. Inner City Press has written about this to the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, in Sepember 2017 - no answer but a new threat - and this month, when Smale's DPI it handing out full access passes to no-show state media. No answer at all: pure censorship, for corruption. Smale's DPI diverted funds allocated for Kiswahili, her staff say, now saying they are targeted for retaliation. This is today's UN. Amid UN bribery scandals, failures in countries from Cameroon to Yemen and declining transparency, today's UN does not even pretend to have content neutral rules about which media get full access and which are confined to minders or escorts to cover the General Assembly.

Inner City Press, which while it pursue the story of Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng's bribery of President of the General Assembly John Ashe was evicted by the UN Department of Public Information from its office, is STILL confined to minders as it pursues the new UN bribery scandal, of Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio allegedly bribing President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, and Chad's Idriss Deby, for CEFC China Energy.

Last week Inner City Press asked UN DPI where it is on the list to be restored to (its) office, and regain full office - and was told it is not even on the list, there is no public list, the UN can exclude, permanently, whomever it wants. This is censorship.


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