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On CAR Rapes, OHCHR Praises French 9-Month Probe, Ignores Ladsous, Leaking

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 1 -- French soldiers in the Central African Republic allegedly  sexually abused children, and after more than nine months, no action has been taken. On May 1 the spokesperson for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zaid, Rupert Colville, sought to explain or bolster the reputations of the Office, and of France. Here's from the OHCHR "Briefing Notes," with clarifying annotations by Inner City Press:

"In response to a question about the investigation of sexual abuse of children in the Central African Republic, the OHCHR spokesperson had the following reply..  This is being investigated by the French authorities. I understand they have now said publicly that that investigation started on 31 July last year."

  Inner City Press notes, if despite the clarity of the charges France has not brought charges against a single soldier in the nine months it has supposedly been investigating with "no mercy" (President Hollande's phrase), why is the UN human rights office so openly defending the French Army?

Colville continued: "We are extremely glad that the French authorities are investigating this and that they have said they plan to call for the harshest punishments available under the law for anyone found guilty. This is incredibly important... We have been cooperating with the French authorities and will continue to do so to the best of our ability."

Inner City Press: This while the UN Peacekeepin mission MINUSCA, run by Frenchman Herve Ladsous, continues "cooperating" with the same French Army forces accused of the rapes (while Ladsous refuses to cooperate with the Congolese Army in military operations against the Hutu FDLR militia).

OHCHR continued: "The second investigation is internal, and is being carried out by OIOS at the request of the High Commissioner.  A statement was made about this by the Secretary-General’s Spokesperson in New York on Wednesday."

But as Inner City Press has reported, Anders Kompass was ALREADY under OIOS investigation for leaking information about Western Sahara to Morocco. Colville know about this and has answered other journalists' questions about it. But it is not mentioned in his May 1 statement.

  That OHCHR was already informed of Kompass' leaking to governments makes them negligent, it seems, in any similar leaking to France of this information. We'll have more on this.

Colville on May 1 continued: "We are extremely concerned that in recent days copies of this preliminary compilation of unredacted interviews with these children appear to have been given to journalists, possibly with the names still unredacted, and we urge any media organization or other individual that has this document not to circulate that information any further."

   Inner City Press notes that the impact of this is to say to media, do not check into the UN's and France's "processing" of these child rape charges. Do not speak with parents. Trust us. But would such trust be justified?

Finally Colville tried to clean up the reputation of UN Peacekeeping -- which works with these French forces -- and of France, saying:

I would also like to clarify a number of elements that have been widely misreported.First, this does not concern UN peacekeepers. The French force in CAR was not under the umbrella of the UN.  This begs the question: Why would OHCHR - or indeed the wider UN - try to protect French troops accused of such odious acts against children by sitting on such information?

Inner City Press answers: Why indeed. UN Peacekeeping has been run four time in a row by citizens of France, a P5 country which chooses the Secretary General who chooses the High Commissioner. And Ladsous' MINUSCA does work with these same French forces now. Suddenly Colville omits the supposed "Human Rights Due Diligence Policy."

"Secondly, there is the timeline. This will obviously be clarified during the investigation.  But it is incorrect to say this collection of interviews was submitted on 24 June. That was the date the last interview with one of the children took place.  As far as we are aware at this point – and I stress this remains to be established as fact by the investigation – the document containing the interviews was apparently sent to Geneva in mid-July. And, as you are aware, the French have said they started their investigation on 31 July."

 And no one has been been charged, in nine months in counting. This is a new low. We'll have more on this.

On April 30, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq when, if ever, the UN was going to make public its report -- which it did not even share with the CAR authorities, only France. Video here.

From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: if Mr. [Anders] Kompass had not given the unredacted report to the French and if it had not appeared in the Guardian, when was this ever going to be made public?  What… can you describe what the UN's process… once it hears testimony from nine-year-old children that they were raped by soldiers in an area in which it has a mission, how is it taken this long?  What is the normal process once you have such a report?  Would it ever have been made public [inaudible]

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  The normal process is to hand it over to the authorities who are in a position to prosecute and that was in fact been done and they have in fact been prosecuting.  Of course, their investigation, their own work in this is continuing, and we respect the ability of them to turn… to continue with that investigation.  Regarding that… the handling of evidence, as you know, we've… we said yesterday… and I'm not going to go over all of that again, what our concerns were, but it has to do with another thing that is a key priority of the United Nations, which is to say the protection of the sort of people who place their trust in us come forward with vital information as witnesses or as victims or as investigators, and we want to make sure that no harm comes to those people.  And that's also an important priority to keep in mind.

Inner City Press: The question becomes — so what's the UN's usual procedure if it receives allegations of rape of children, it provides it to a country.  How long does it give a country… when you say prosecution, has anyone been charged in the nine months since the information was provided, anyone?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  That's not a question for me but for the French authorities.  They are ones that are conducting the prosecution.

Inner City Press:  Once you provide information about child rape by soldiers to a country, if no one is charged, when do you go public?  Was it just a fluke that the Guardian published it, or would you ever have gone public with it?  That's really now question.  Is there a procedure for the UN to say children say they were raped and the country has not done anything?  When does that happen?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Yes, at some point, the relevant information comes out, but we also have to respect the ability of the authorities to conduct an investigation without our interference in their investigative process.

We don't try to interfere with countries' investigative processes.  In the meantime, what we did through our human rights office in Bangui is conduct a human rights investigation in the late spring of 2014.  That was in response to serious allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children by French military personnel.

We… we tried to make sure that that will be followed up on, and in fact it is being followed up on.  In terms of when it's being made public, I believe the French authorities have their own way of processing this, and you really need to ask them the question of how they disclose this sort of information as they go about this.  But certainly we're not trying to prejudice or interfere with an investigation.  For us, the main priority is accountability.  The main priority is to make sure that whoever committed this, if… if there were crimes committed, that justice is done and that the people who committed these… these alleged crimes are held accountable.

Inner City Press:  Is there a deadline for a country to actually prosecute somebody once they're given information such as this because you treat other countries differently?  For example, in the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo], DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] has said we won't work with the army because they didn't do certain judicial things.  So what's the rule?  Is it nine months, a year, a year and a half?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  This country is in fact doing judicial things and we're respecting that process.  Ultimately for us the important point is to make sure justice is done, and we'll continue it follow up on that.  But they are in fact going ahead with that process.

 Setting aside for now whether that's true or not, what about Equatorial Guinea?

  On April 30 prosecutors in CAR's capital Bangui said they were never told about the allegations or report by the UN. What is the UN's function, when the rape of CAR children is reported only to France, and not to CAR?

  Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about the process, how long the UN would wait -- without answer. Haq spoke positively of French president Francois Hollande now saying "no mercy" to the perpetrators. After nine months?

  Now it emerges that troops for example from Equatorial Guinea are also named in the UN report. Was Equatorial Guinea also told by the UN (and not CAR)?  This is a cover-up, in more ways than one.

  Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row in charge of UN Peacekeeping, has made an announcement from Bangui: that he will deploy drones there.

But who will get the information, and what will be covered up, like the rapes?

The UN's own in-house organ UN News Center, not mentioning the rapes of course, quotes Ladsous that "the arrival of attack helicopters and drones would help."

 The story is more complex. Inner City Press has asked the UN questions, below.

  Yesterday's Guardian report focused on a UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights staffer Anders Kompass -- who some media insist on identifying as an "aid worker" -- saying he is being retaliated against for sharing this information with the French.

  As Inner City Pres previously reported, there is more to this story and to Kompass, in the public record. Kompass shared information with Morocco, to undermine human rights reporting in Western Sahara. Inner City Press reported on Kompass and this in December; the leaked documents are online. 

 What is the relationship between the two stories, beyond the UN's near total lack of transparency and standards?

  On April 29, the UN came out with a statement that Kompass was suspended with pay for leaking a report to French authorities with the name of victims and witnesses. Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq these questions, here

Inner City Press: since this report was given in mid-2014, one, can the U.N. say whether any of the alleged perpetrators have been disciplined?  It's almost a year at this point.  So you're saying they're looking into it now.  I'm staring now at an e-mail of Rupert Colville of that office who is asking about Anders Compass in December in connection with the leaking of information to Morocco about Western Sahara, which was revealed in these Moroccan leaked cables.  And I wanted to know, when was he suspended?  And what's the relationship of these two? At the time, Mr. Colville said there was an OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] investigation of the leaking regarding Western Sahara.  So the question is: are there two investigations?  Is there one investigation?  And can you tell us on what date Mr. Compass was suspended? Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Some of these details will, of course, have to wait.  The actual investigation that the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights is doing into this.  So I would wait for that to be completed.  I am aware of a separate issue involving the Office for the… for Internal Oversight Services.  But that's… that is, I believe, on a different matter.  But I'll have… but, of course, right now, I need for those particular things to be finished so I can comment on them.  Otherwise, I don't have the details of either of those investigations while they're underway.  So I'd expect your patience while we go through that. Regarding the case of Mr. Compass and his… Compass and his start date, like I said, he's been placed on administrative leave with full pay pending the results of the investigation.  Regarding what you said about the French and any follow-up action, I think that's a question to ask the French authorities.  Like I said, we have been made aware by the French that they are conducting their own investigation into this. Inner City Press: But since the current UN mission works with the French authorities in a cooperative context and you have this human rights due diligence policy, doesn't the UN have some duty to know what the French authorities have done? Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding human rights due diligence, it's our human rights people who have investigating this.  And we're following up on that. So we’re… Question:  I know. Deputy Spokesman:  These are not UN forces.  These are forces under the control of… Question:  The policy covers UN working with outside forces that may have committed human rights violations.  And the question is, what has the UN done to make sure that these rapes and abuses didn't take place-- Deputy Spokesman:  I just read out a statement stating what we have done. Question:  Are you still working with the same forces that are accused of the rapes? Deputy Spokesman:  And as far as that goes, like I said, you would be well advised to ask the French how they're following up, but they are also conducting their own investigation, and that… like I said, the substance of this is very serious, and we do expect that there would be follow-up on that. 

 But has there been? The head of UN Peacekeeping, former French diplomat Herve Ladous, has invoked the UN's stated human rights due diligence policy to not work with the Congolese Army in combating the Hutu FDLR rebel. But apparently no invocation, or even inquiry under, the UN's human rights due diligence policy as to the army of his native France. This is outrageous.

Here's their statement:

The United Nations, through its Office of Human Rights in Bangui, conducted a human rights investigation in late spring of 2014, following serious allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children by French military personnel, prior to the establishment of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Central African Republic. The resulting report was provided to an external party in mid-July 2014 in unedited form, which included the identities of victims, witnesses and investigators.  The unedited version was, by a staff member’s own admission, provided unofficially by that staff member to the French authorities in late July, prior to even providing it to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) senior management.  This constitutes a serious breach of protocol, which, as is well known to all OHCHR officials, requires redaction of any information that could endanger victims, witnesses and investigators. There is also an internal investigation into the handling of this matter by OHCHR, including the manner in which the confidential preliminary findings were initially communicated to external actors, and whether the names of victims, witnesses and investigators were conveyed as part of that document.  One staff member has been placed on administrative leave with full pay pending the results of the investigation. Our preliminary assessment is that such conduct does not constitute whistleblowing.

We'll have more on this - and on the behavior in CAR of MINUSCA, run by Frenchman Herve Ladsous.

 Inner City Press back on November 21, 2014, asked the New York spokesman for High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid for

"an update on action on the leaked cables, related to Western Sahara, involving current OHCHR official Anders Kompass and one, previously head of OHCHR's office in NY, who's just left. What steps has OHCHR taken on the cables / issues?"

  Now three weeks later there has been no answer. from the OHCHR spokesperson in New York. But we now publish this response from OHCHR Geneva spokesperson Rupert Colville to similar questions:

From: Rupert Colville [at]
Date: Friday 12 December 2014
Subj: Investigation leaked cables Western Sahara and OHCHR

The investigation is being carried out, at our request, by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in New York, which is an operationally independent office that assists the Secretary-General in fulfilling his internal oversight responsibilities. While the investigation is under way, there is nothing else I can say on the matter.

  Colville was asked, among other things, “Is Anders Kompass still in active duty during this investigation? Who is leading this investigation?”

  The UN system often uses the pendency of an investigation as a way to wait for the “problem” to go away. As the publication Tel Quel, here, has noted, many in the media are not covering the leaks.

  Relatedly, the leaks are now being covered up or censored. Two recent uploads, about Morocco and the African Group at the UN, were put on “” -- then taken down after, the site says, a complaint under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

  This is a new trend -- attempt to use copyright law to take down leaked documents. Reuters, for example, filed a “for the record” complaint with the UN trying to get Inner City Press thrown out - then, when the “for the record” complaint was leaked and published, conned Google into blocking it from Search, calling it copyrighted. Click here for that.

So that media uses or abuses copyright to censor its own “for the record” complaint filed with the UN, and does not cover these new leaks about Western Sahara, Morocco, and the UN. This is a new trend. Watch this site.

  In the above, the referenced former head of OHCHR's New York office is Senegal's Bacre Waly Ndiaye, noted Tijania Sufi. The cables reveal a deep scandal in the UN system. Now OHCHR in Geneva is saying it will not comment until an investigation, Inner City Press understands by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, is complete. But there is no indication that will be publish. This is one of the ways the UN covers up.

 There other ways, beyond Western Sahara. On rapes in DR Congo by Army units the UN support, Ladsous refused to answer Press questions for months.  Video here of then and now spokesman pulling microphone away from Inner City Press. These practices are being opposed by the new Free UN Coalition for Access.

 Now on UN Peacekeeping's November 9 press release covering up mass rape in Thabit in Darfur, Ladsous has not answered any questions; UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric on November 21 told Inner City Press the UN won't comment on leaks. The Western Sahara leaks are so extensive that despite a seeming media blackout by Western wire services, they will not go away.

While Ladsous is not the only UN official exposed by the cables, his extraordinary campaign of refusing Press questions, to the point of physically blocking Press filming (Vine here), as well as a DPKO to OHCHR connection, make him key to the case. As to MINURSO, Ladsous is blamed for the non-deployment of Bolduc.

  Back on November 14 Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about Bolduc and an investigation of leaks in Geneva of which sources tell it. Video here.

  On November 5, Inner City Press reported on leaked cables showing among other things the UN's Ladsous undermining MINURSO on the issue of human rights, and improper service of Morocco by Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights staffers Anders Kompass and Bacre Waly Ndiaye.

    Since then, along with anonymous death threats, Inner City Press has received additional information including of a UN Office of Internal Oversight Services investigation of Anders Kompers and Bacre Waly Ndiaye.

  On November 14, Inner City Press asked the UN's Haq, per UN transcript:

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  You had a question on Western Sahara?

Inner City Press: It's a two-pronged question.  What Stéphane [Dujarric] said earlier in the week about Kim Bolduc, the new SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General].  I wanted to just kind of confirm it.  In reading it, does that mean that she has never has been allowed in?  And, if so, where has she been since August?  What is the plan to resolve that?  And I also wanted to ask you about regarding the cables that I base the initial question on.  Can you confirm that OIOS [Office for Internal Oversight Services] is conducting an investigation at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on at least two staff members who apparently leaked this information to the Moroccan Government?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  On that, I cannot confirm that.  As you know, the OIOS conducts its work independently.  At some point, once they have completed their work, they apprise us [inaudible].  But I wouldn't be aware of any work that is ongoing.  Beyond that, regarding Kim Bolduc, as you know, both Christopher Ross and Kim Bolduc briefed the Security Council on 27 October.  And at that point, the Security Council reiterated its desire, first of all, to see Ambassador Ross's facilitation resume and reiterated its desire to see Kim Bolduc be able to take up her duties at the helm of MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara] as soon as possible.  And we look forward to the resumption of Mr. Ross's visit to the region and also to the deployment of Kim Bolduc.

Inner City Press:  But is she currently, I mean, she is the SRSG?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  She is the SRSG, but she has not been able to function with her MINURSO duties in-country.

  In-country, eh? We'll have more on this. And on this: Inner City Press is informed that while Ladsous claims to have performed as required in connection with the appointment of Bolduc, even on this he is accused of failing to do his duty, as on many other parts of his job. Video compilation here; recent Vine here.

   Document leaks from inside the UN have identified improper service of Morocco, on the question of Western Sahara, by a staffer at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Anders Kompass.

  Inner City Press has waited to report on them; the spokesperson for the High Commissioner has today said his office is aware the leaked cables, which contain the perspective of certain diplomats, and that the situation is being investigated to clarify the facts.”

  Whatever the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, now under Jordan's Prince Zeid, does about the content of the leaks, more will be required in the UN Secretariat in New York -- particularly at the top of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which runs the MINURSO mission in Western Sahara.

  The cables show that Herve Ladsous, a long-time French diplomat now the boss of DPKO and thus of MINURSO, was flacking for Morocco on the supposed quality of its human rights mechanisms. This directly undercuts the MINURSO mission, for which Ladsous is supposed to be working.


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