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Somalia Pirates Include Pakistanis and Iranians, Russia Says an International Court Needed

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, May 29 -- While the campaign of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia is portrayed as example of global unity, there are disagreements about setting up an international court mechanism to try piracy suspects. After Friday's meeting of the Contact Group, Inner City Press asked U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary, Political and Military Affairs Greg Delawie if the U.S. favors such an international mechanism. No, Mr. Delawie said. Is this due to the U.S.'s position against the International Criminal Court?

   Ironically, not only Germany and the Netherlands but also Russia favor an international court, or "mechanism within a national court," as a Russian diplomat put it to Inner City Press. He noted that the U.S. arguments against this are similar to those Russia made against, for example, the establishment of the so-called Hariri tribunal for Lebanon. He said that since Kenya, where most trials for now take place, has an Anglo Saxon system, the U.S. and UK are fine with it, Russia less so. He said that recently pirates from Pakistan and Iran have been caught and asked, why turn them over to Kenya?

Pirates? From where? To where?

   Somalia's foreign minister made a pitch for money for his country's courts, and to develop an official Somali Coast Guard. Inner City Press had asked Delawie what the group would do about illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste, two roots or rationales for Somali piracy. Delawie said that things are so dangerous now, he doubts that illegal fishing persists. The answer seemed insufficient.

   Standing to the side of the stakeout was the UN's envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, fresh from a press conference in which after Inner City Press asked about human rights in Somalia, he said the Press is an accomplice in what Ugandan President Museveni has called a genocide in motion. As the UN's Olara Otunu might say, Museveni should know....

UN's Somali Envoy Says Press Is Accomplice to Genocide, No Info on Norway's Role

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, May 29 -- Testifying about Somalia to the U.S. Senate on May 21, a representative of Oxfam said that "the United Nations Development Program gave direct financial support for police salaries and some of these police were implicated in serious human rights abuses." On May 29, Inner City Press asked the Somali Transitional Federal Government's foreign minister Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar to respond. "I'm appreciat[ive] of that worry," he said, saying that the "concern.. speaks on behalf of the Somalia individuals who suffer." Video here, from Minute 21:36.

   But when Inner City Press less than an hour later posed the same human rights question to the UN's envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, he called the question "irresponsible," the questioner an "accomplice to.... genocide" and told Inner City Press that "there will be more killing and anarchy [and] you will be responsible." Video here, from Minute 19:44.

   Inner City Press pointed about that it was Oxfam's testimony, and that is seemed fair to ask how the UN is making sure the funding it gives in Somalia supports and does not contravene human rights principles. Ould Abdallah, who previously said that the press should not report on the killing of civilians by African Union peacekeepers, disagrees. He said the Somali police should be paid even if some "stole money money" or committed "abuse." This is not the UN policy. But the UN has become so out of control that no one dares to reign Ould Abdallah in, or even tries.

   When Ould Abdallah attacked the media who reported on African Union peacekeepers firing into a crowd of civilians in Mogadishu, and compared these media outlets to Radio Milles Colines which stoked genocide in Rwanda, both Human Rights Watch and press freedom groups demanded he issue a retraction. Inner City Press asked about it at the UN in New York, and was later told by senior UN officials that Ould Abdallah had been told to retract it by headquarters, but had not do so. So much for accountability.

   Emblematic is the lack of answers on how Ould Abdallah, according to a joint Somali - Kenyan filing under the Law of Sea's Continental shelf process, arranged for assistance from Norway and its Petroleum Directorate. Inner City Press wrote about this and asked the UN and Ould's spokesperson Suzie Price, but never received an answer.

   On Friday, the question was put to Ould Abdallah and he said he is "no specialist," that he was unfamiliar with the filing that states that he prepared it. "Ask Norway," he said. Video here, from Minute 12:30. Inner City Press already has -- click here -- but Ould Abdallah's non answers on May 29 only raise more questions.

UN's Ban, Ould Abdallah at right, human rights not shown

   In Somalia, this has become a controversy. As first reported by Inner City Press, the filing states that Ould Abdallah

"initiated the preparation of preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of the continental shelf of Somalia beyond 200 nautical miles... In the preparation of this material the SRSG accepted an offer of assistance from the Government of Norway... Both the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate have been involved in the preparation... All of the expenses related to the preparation of the present submission have been covered by the Government of Norway."

   Norway, of course, is a major oil producer. Absent safeguards that do not appear to be in place, it is viewed as a conflict of interest for Norway to pay for and prepare a filing about drilling rights for an African country described as having no government. And yet little has been said, and the UN has accepted the filing. Call them pirates of the pen.

   Inner City Press asked the UN spokesperson's office, which begrudgingly sent the question to Ould Abdallah's spokeswoman, who never answered. She was in the room Friday, and did not purport to answer. Nor would they answer which countries are funding Somalia's armed forces. The UN told Inner City Press

Subj: Question on Somalia at Tuesday's Noon Briefing
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 5/27/2009 10:20:50 A.M. Eastern Standard Time

Find below the response to your question at yesterday's Noon Briefing on UN support for police personnel of the Transitional Federal Government, (TFG): The UN Development Programme has provided training to civilian police officers in Somalia, under internationally approved guidelines with emphasis on community-based policing practices.

So far, 2,775 police personnel have undergone this internationally approved training by UNDP for the TFG. These are the only police personnel who are eligible for the payment of stipends which is paid according to strict human rights and financial accountability standards.

Some donors are supporting payment of stipends to UNDP-trained police.

   So who are the donors? It appears that Ould Abdallah, whenever he doesn't like or doesn't want to answer a question, particularly a financial questions, calls the questioner an accomplice to genocide. And so it goes at the UN.

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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