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In Haiti, Duvalier Case May Help Sue UN for Cholera, Banning Coverage

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 7 -- Two weeks after the UN tersely dismissed claims that it killed 8000 people by introducing cholera to Haiti, Inner City Press asked two lawyers from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti about the next steps, and about the Duvalier case currently being heard.

  Speaking from Port-au-Prince, IJDH staff attorney Nicole Phillips said that anyone there who cares about human rights is troubled by the UN's statement that the claims are “not receivable.”

  IJDH's Brian Concannon said that developments in the Duvalier case could strength the Haitian judicial system for the cases against the UN to be filed there and elsewhere (Inner City Press hears, in the European Court of Human Rights.)

  But at the UN in New York, the Secretariat of Ban Ki-moon has tried to end the story and coverage before it even begins.

  The day Ban's dismissal was announced, the UN gave the first noon briefing question to the president of the UN Correspondents Association, Pamela Falk of CBS, who asked not about Haiti but rather about a letter she had written to the UN.

  When Inner City Press challenged these priorities, it was hauled in for a meeting. After reporting on its (having said, “you are on the record”), Inner City Press has received a false complaint from the boss of UN Media Accreditation Stephane Dujarric, saying Falk and her first vice president Louis Charbonneau of Reuters were and apparently are not to be quoted.

  This is why they call it the UN's Censorship Alliance.

   Ironically, at the February 22 meeting Dujarric said there should be more coverage of the UN, including Haiti. But at the noon briefings, Ban's spokespeople tell Inner City Press day after day, there will be no more answers.

  At the March 7 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked another question about Haiti:

Inner City Press: I am assuming that MINUSTAH would be aware of it, there is a camp of displaced people — displaced by the hurricane — near Port-au-Prince called Grace Village and it is facing not only eviction, but the Government has said that they are going to arrest a number of people inside without giving any reasons — it’s called arbitrary arrest — and I am wondering, given that MINUSTAH is there, are they trying to get involved in this one in any way? Are they aware of it, and what do they think of the arrest threats?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I’ll ask our colleagues; I don’t have anything on that, but I am sure they will let us know.

   There was no answer, eight hours later and counting.

  The “colleagues” would be the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, run by Herve Ladsous, busy on Thursday providing spin answers to Inner City Press' questions about 126 raped in Minova by the UN's partners in the Congolese Army -- to friendlier journalists, who like Falk of UNCA (and CBS?) don't ask about Haiti.

  Ladsous has refused to answer Inner City Press' questions about what safeguards, if any, he has implemented to try to not kill MORE people by bringing cholera in. Maybe Ladsous can now spoonfeed a false answer to his friendly scribes? So it goes at the UN: impunity corrupts. Watch this site.

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