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In UN Cover-Up, Bax Orders Staff Silence or Practiced Responses After ICP Blog Exposes

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 19, updated -- Beginning on June 22, Inner City Press has exclusively reported on how UN official David Bax in Mogadishu helps share genetic evidence with US intelligence while engaging in favoritism and alleged sexual harassment.

For weeks now the UN has told Inner City Press that Bax is being investigated and that it will have nothing to say until that investigation, by the UN Office for Project Services, is completed. (On September 12, the UN's Somalia envoy Nicholas Kay told Inner City Press, on-camera, that he is aware of the investigation.)

But it's worse: Inner City Press has obtained and is exclusively reporting on a copy of an e-mail Bax sent to those who might be contacted by UNOPS, specifically trashing "blog Inner City Press" and telling them that "none of you should feel that you HAVE to speak to" the investigators.

Urging or ordering his subordinates to show their loyalty to him, Bax tells them "it is now time for us all to pull together and help each other get past this unpleasant episode... There is no need to involve anyone external... I will always be loyal to all of you. I know I can count on you to do the same."

  Bax tells those under him, "you are in no way obligated to speak. Also, if any of you would be more comfortable going over likely questions, I would be happy to sit down with any of you in advance to discuss and help you to anticipate line of inquire [sic] and practice responses."

  This is called a cover-up, including intimidation and coaching of witnesses. Is this the way the UN does investigations -- even as it defends its Syria chemical weapons report which Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called "overwhelming" even before he saw it?

(Ironically, Ban's Syria report was also hyped in advance by the praiser or rehabilitator of Bax, who sources tell Inner City Press is working, albeit slowly, on a follow-up. Perhaps Bax -- or is it Ban? -- needs more help and service.)

  For two days this week, as the UN has canceled like today its noon briefing for photo-ops in which Ban Ki-moon takes either no or few questions, carefully selected, Inner City Press has asked Ban's Office of the Spokesperson in writing:

"What is the UN's reaction - denial? - of allegation that in Somalia an AMISOM contingent, on information and belief from Burundi, provides services to UNMAS' David Bax?"

There has been no response to that, even as the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, whose chief Herve Ladsous was informed of l'affaire Bax and did nothing, has provided acknowledgments of rape charges against a Sri Lankan UN peacekeeping in Haiti, and over 100 Chadian peacekeepers walking off the job in Northern Mali.

  As obtained by Inner City Press, Bax' cover-up email involves a senior DPKO spokesperson and, at the top, Jo Nickolls, who is the head of UN Resident Coordinator Philippe Lazzarini's office. We'll have more on this. Watch this site.

Update: more than 24 hours after publication of the above, this came in:

Date: Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 5:27 PM
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Subject: Your questions on Somalia
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your recent emailed questions on Somalia, we have the following responses from the Department for Peacekeeping Operations:

The African Union Mission, AMISOM, does play a role in support of security for some United Nations activities in Somalia. We do not discuss in detail United Nations security arrangements, especially in a volatile context such as Somalia.

As for your question about an email, DPKO says that it will not comment on quotes from a purported, unauthenticated email. The UNOPS inquiry continues and UNOPS and DPKO have nothing further to say on the matter while this is the case.

  While Inner City Press has not directly asked the UN about Bax' e-mail, one would think that urging potential witnesses not to speak to the investigators, or to get coached, would cause concern - especially for an organization that wants its reports, like on Syria, to be viewed as credible.


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