Friday, March 6, 2015

UN Tells Inner City Press Ban Ki-moon's Lawyer Never Called US Strikes in Syria Illegal, But Is Silent on Feltman


By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- How scared does the UN of Ban Ki-moon and his senior officials run of the United States? Inner City Press on March 4 asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric of a detailed article reporting that Ban's
“chief counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares. Syria was still a sovereign country and U.N. member state, the legal team reminded their colleagues. Bombing its territory required authorization from the Syrian government or the U.N. Security Council. But as the last-minute backchannel notice made clear, the White House was not seeking either. Thus, the lawyers said, there needed to be a public statement that the United States was violating the U.N. Charter.”
   That day, Dujarric told Inner City Press that the airing of “internal discussions leading to statements by the Secretary-General, I think, is not particularly helpful.”
   Two days later, Dujarric ended his noon briefing by saying: “Matthew you had asked about the article in The New Republic the other day. The UN Legal Counsel never qualified the American air strikes in Syria as illegal or against the Charter. Accordingly he has never suggested that a statement should be made to that effect.”
   It remains unclear if the denial is only for  Miguel de Serpa Soares, who never does press conference, and not for his Office of Legal Counsel staff.
  It is noteworthy that Dujarric did not return to deny thereported position of Political Affairs Under Secretary General (and former US State Department official) Jeffrey Feltman that “if Ban condemned the U.S. attack, he could undermine a crucial military effort and give political cover to Obama’s domestic opponents.”
  Feltman had been promised to hold a question and answer stakeout on March 6 -- twice Dujarric told Inner City Press its questions for Feltman could be asked when he “did” the stakeout outside the UN Security Council -- but on March 6, soon after Dujarric's above-quoted denial, Feltman's stakeout was canceled, to be replaced by a session “sometime next week.”
  And do it goes at the UN. Here is what Inner City Press asked Dujarric on March 4, including if Ban is speaking to member states about one of his proposal now under fire:
Inner City Press:  There are some other things but I wanted to ask, I'm sure you've seen the New Republic long-formarticle about the Secretary-General by Jonathan Katz, and I wanted to ask, one if you have any overall response to it but specifically to the report on the US bombing that began of Islamic State of the… of Iraq, in the Levant that the Council and Mr. Serpa Soares said this would violate the charter and that DPA [Department of Political Affairs] under Jeffrey Feltman said go for it.
Spokesman Dujarric:  I think the… we're very much aware of the article.  I think the… you know, the airing in public of healthy internal discussions leading to statements by the Secretary-General, I think, is not particularly helpful.  And they don't always particularly reflect the reality of those discussions.  I think what is important is to refer back to what the Secretary-General actually said on the… on that day in September.
Inner City Press:  Okay.  One follow-up and an example.  I mean, beyond that specific, it seems to represent… to portray the Secretary-General as not really getting involved in these debates and staying “above the fray”.  So, I wanted to know, one, if you have a response to that, and two, for example, right now, there's a big renewed debate in the Fifth Committee about the Secretary-General's proposal on same-sex marriage benefits for UN staff.  Is the Secretary-General himself taking an active part in speaking to Member States about that?
Spokesman Dujarric:  The Secretary-General receives advice from his senior advisers.  That's why God created senior advisers, it is to provide advice to the Secretary-General.  The Secretary-General and staff are very much aware of what is going on in the Fifth Committee.  It is a debate that we are closely watching.  And we will leave it at that for the time being.  
  Then two days later, this:
“Matthew you had asked about the article in The New Republic the other day. The UN Legal Counsel never qualified the American air strikes in Syria as illegal or against the Charter. Accordingly he has never suggested that a statement should be made to that effect. And that's it. Thank you.”
  But that's NOT it. Watch this site.

 
  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

As Bangladesh Cancels Press Accreditations, UN Does Nothing, "Not Involved"


By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 5 -- Amid the violence in Bangladesh,Inner City Press has five times asked the UN how it reviews whether the military personnel it uses from Bangladesh have not been involved in human rights violations. February 5 video;  UN's February 20 transcript;February 23 transcriptvideo here.

  Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access have also asked about freedom of expression in Bangladesh - and relatedly at the UN, when a journalist asking questions at the UN had his media blocked back in Bangladesh.

  While the UN Spokesman replied that he had spoken with the journalist in questions -- which was not the point -- from elsewhere in the UN to the request for action, no response. Now the journalist and four colleagues have had their accreditations pulled.

 Inner City Press on March 5 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric if the UN had any involvement in a statement urging de-escalation issued by a group of Ambassadors in Dhaka. I am not aware that we have any involvement in that, the UN Spokesman replied. Video here. Why not?

  Why didn't UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman, who spent days in Myanmar then Sri Lanka, make a push to visit Bangladesh at this time? Did he? His office has not answered questions about his Sri Lanka trip, but Dujarric says he will answer questions on March 6. Only about Ukraine? Watch this site.
  The UN makes many vague and grandiose statements about its commitment to freedom of the press. But when a journalist who asked questions at its noon briefing about Bangladesh had his family's house in Dhaka visited by the authorities, and his media's website blocked, what did the UN do?
  Not much, it seems. After asking the UN Spokesperson and others in the UN in writing, Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Spokesman Stephane Dujarric what he or the UN had done. Video here.
  All that Dujarric would say is that he had spoken with the journalist. But what does that accomplish? Anything said publicly? Or (next story) to the country? Apparently not.

  On February 28 Inner City Press for FUNCA asked the Spokesperson:
1) [The journalist] who has been asking questions about Bangladesh at the noon briefing of late and about whom Inner City Press asked on February 27 now says that his media has now been blocked in Bangladesh, and he fears for the safety of his spouse and two children there.

On behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, any UN comment? Or action?

2) please explain the correction today by your office, changing “saddened” to “condemn” -- was any complain received by the UN about the failure to condemn? Was the initial (or second) statement prepared by the Department of Political Affairs?

Finally, where are the Sri Lanka read-outs requested by Inner City Press and seemingly promised on Friday, Feb 27? This is an ongoing request.
 And only this answer came: "the statement resissue was due clerical error on our part. Nothing more. On the rest we"ll revert."
 But there was no reversion. By March 2, nothing on it. Nor from elsewhere in the UN system where it and more was sent.  So the question was asked at the March 2 UN noon briefing. We'll have more on this.
 On February 27 Inner City Press asked, video here:
Inner City Press: Press freedom question, both in Bangladesh and about Bangladesh here.  One, there was a pretty high-profile hacking to death of a blogger in Bangladesh named Avijit Roy, and I'm wondering whether the UN system, CPJ and others have denounced it for obvious reasons.  What does the UN say about that?  And also our colleague who's asked a number of questions here about Bangladesh, I tried to ask MALU yesterday whether it was true as reported in Bangladesh that the Government of Bangladesh or mission made some inquiry with the UN trying to essentially question his accreditation or make it so he couldn't ask questions here.  And I wanted to know, what's the position of the UN on such inquiries?

Spokesman Dujarric:  The UN's position is if somebody meets the accreditation criteria, they are welcome in this room and they are welcome to ask any questions.  I may cut them off if the preamble to their question is too long, but that's just my chair's prerogative.

Inner City Press:  Is it appropriate for Member States to try to essentially, like, cherry pick what journalists get to ask questions?

Spokesman Dujarric:  The point is that once they're in this room, they're allowed to ask whatever they want.  Okay?  On the attack of the blogger, we spoke to our human rights colleagues who obviously condemned the attack and expressed the hope that the perpetrators will be quickly brought to justice through the due process of law, and they've added that it's obviously very important that the space for freedom of expression in civil society be upheld in Bangladesh.
   After the briefing, Inner City Press and FUNCA were informed that the referenced journalist -- not the murdered blogger -- had his media's website blocked in Bangladesh, where there have been arrests for carrying placards, and threats against the Daily Star for publishing photographs of posters. We'll have more on this.

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask, beyond just the arrest warrant against Zia, there's a Mr. Mahmudur Manna has been arrested for trying to stir up the army and he's been arrested by something called the Rapid Action Battalion, RAB.  The reason I'm asking is research discovers that Mohammad [UN transcript claims "inaudible" but it is Muhammad Matiur Rahman] of this Rapid Action Battalion named in a filing that was directed to ICC is reportedly about to take up a position within MONUSCO.  I've been asking you this a number of times.  You'd said that the UN has all these concerns, but given that much of the violence in Bangladesh is allegedly perpetrated by the military that's contributing soldiers, I'm naming this name as a sample case.  What does DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] do to review the people coming in?  There are other conflicts…

Spokesman Dujarric:  I understand.  I've heard your question.  I tried to answer to the best of my ability yesterday when you last asked it.  You know, I have no specific information on the case that you mention or the people you mention.  There are procedures in place in order to ensure that DPKO uniformed personnel meet the requirements that we have and also in terms of human rights.  If I have any information on those specific cases, I will share them with you.
   But still, nothing, from UN Peacekeeping run by Herve Ladsous.
On February 24 Inner City Press on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the Bangladesh government's threats against the media there, specifically the Daily Star.
  Now the these strands have come together, the UN's and UN Peacekeeping's dubious commitment to human rights and a lack of press freedom in Bangladesh -- and in the UN.
  The Kaler Kantho newspaper in Bangladesh, saying that questions about human rights and Bangladesh's military should not be asked at the UN's noon briefing, has favorably cited the UN Correspondents Association in its support, reporting (as auto-translated) that ICP
"United Nations Correspondents Association iuenasie) faced investigation. He was threatened with expulsion from the iuenasie was reported that the UK's Guardian newspaper. His reputation for investigative journalism in the United Nations." Click here to view, then translate.
  Here is the Guardian article, which reported that ICP which
"has been responsible for breaking several stories about the UN, has.. also written stories accusing the UNCA president, Giampaolo Pioli, of a conflict of interest involving Sri Lanka (see here).  Lee is regarded as the UN department of public information's least-favourite journalist because he is persistent, is willing to ask uncomfortable questions, and has cultivated an impressive network of sources within the UN. UNCA is a self-governing body and membership is not a prerequisite for obtaining UN press credentials, which are granted by the UN media accreditation and liaison unit (MALU). So Lee's expulsion would not automatically deprive him of UN access. However, it is possible that it might weigh in the balance when he next applies for credentials."

   In fact, Inner City Press was never expelled by UNCA -- they didn't have the votes -- but quit the organization in disgust once its term on the board expired, and co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access.
  Now, Kaler Kanthro continues after citing UNCA, the UN's Censorship Alliance,, the Bangladesh government is trying to ask the UN - and US State Department - credentials of those who ask questions about human rights abuse and censorship in the country. At the UN, they've found the UN Censorship Alliance. But this time, there's FUNCA. 
  On February 24, Inner City Press on behalf of FUNCA asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:
Inner City Press: On Bangladesh, it seems like the violence is escalating but my question to you is about a statement by current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina where she says a publication, The Daily Star, legal action should be taken for publishing a photograph of a poster campaign of protesters in the street.  I’m wondering first if you have any response to that and also if you have anything new. I know there was a request to go.  Where do things stand as people seem to be getting disappeared et cetera?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I don’t have an update for you on that except obviously to say that we support freedom of expression and the right for newspapers to exist, which is a big part of democracy in any country.
   But what about using "peacekeepers" who have been involved in the violence?  We noted that we'd have more on Herve Ladsous' failure to vet Bangladesh's "peacekeepers," now as his DPKO won't answer this basic question. Ladsous refuses Press questions: video here and here,Vine here. (UNCA did nothing about this, quite the contrary.)
   Inner City Press has raised these questions: is Colonel Imran Ibne A. Rouf serving UN Peacekeeping? A filing addressed to the International Criminal Court says he "abducted seven innocent civilians from a place near Dhaka Central Jail;" they were all killed.
  What about Colonel Amin, Director of National Security Intelligence, now reportedly serving in Ladsous' MINUSCA mission in the Central African Republic, along with Lt Col Mazid, who was commanding officer of Rapid Action Battalion 10?
  In Ladsous and Martin Kobler's MONUSCO mission in the DR Congo, where a Cote d'Ivoire diplomat was allowed to sell UN Police positions (clear here for that Inner City Press exclusive), please explain the presence of Lt Col Shiraj , Lt Col Mofazzal and Lt Col Khandakar Mahmud, all three of whom were in the Bangladesh Border Guards?
  In Ladsous' mission in Mali, accused like the mission in Haiti of shooting at unarmed demonstrators, please explain the presence of Lt Col Munir, Lt Col Faruq, Lt Col Shamsul Kabir and  Lt Col Mustafiz, all of whom were in the Bangladesh Border Guards, and another Maj Mustafiz, from the Directorate-General of Forces Intelligence?
   Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping uses human rights abusers, and at least in Mali and Haiti commits human rights abuses (while enabling them in the DR Congo and elsewhere). Maybe this is why Ladsous refuses to answer Press questions. Or maybe it's the still UNaddressed sale of posts scandal in his missions in Haiti and the DRC also exclusively exposedby Inner City Press. We'll have more on all of this.
 As to Bangladesh this comes after it emerged that Ban Ki-moon sent January 30 letter(s) to the country, even though the government there says they only got the letter much later. What explains the delay? 
When on February 5 Inner City Press asked the UN, which uses Bangladesh soldiers as peacekeepers, this ensued:.
  So what if anything is the UN doing? Watch this site.

 
  

On If Report on Shot Protesters in Gao, Mali, Will Go to UNSC, UN Says “In Some Form," From UNSC Prez No Answer - Yet


By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, March 5 -- After UN Peacekeeping shot protesters in Goa in Northern Mali, the UN commissioned a report which it said will be finished by the end of March. But will it be made public, or even be submitted to the UN Security Council which formed the Mali mission?

Inner City Press on March 4 tried to ask the Security Council president for March, Francois Delattre of France, about the Gao report. Video here. But Delattre replied, for the second time in two days, "I have to run." Vine here.
 On March 5 Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric if the report will go to the Security Council. Dujarric replied "in some form" and that the findings would be made public. Video here.
 So later on March 5, along with a question about a briefing about African Union cooperation which UN official Taye Brook Zerihoun told Inner City Press he had given in the Council, Inner City Press asked Delattre about the Gao report: will the Council get, or request to get, the report?
  Delattre this time didn't run but rather answered. He answered only the Africa Union question, video here. It's appreciated but leave the question open: what is going to happen with the report, with the incident and accountability?

  Tellingly, perhaps, the French Mission transcription of Delattre's press encounter included Inner City Press' African Union but not its Gao report question, compare video to transcript. We'll have more on this.

The UN Security Council speaks in at least four different ways: resolutions, Presidential Statements, Press Statements and the weakest form of action, "Elements to the Press."
  When French Ambassador Francois Delattre came to the UN Security Council stakeout on March 4 as Council president he read out "Elements to the Press about Mali. 
  Inner City Press twice asked, Question on Mali? But Delattre for the second time in two days said, "I have to run" and declined to answer.Video here and embedded below.
   Now the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, has publicly mis-characterized the Elements to the Press that Delattre read out as a Press Statement or "Declaration a la Presse," including in a tweet at-naming the French Mission to the UN, which offered no correction. It was also e-mailed out (which should be similarly corrected) and put here on the MINUSMA Facebook page.
   Perhaps France, and ultimate MINUSMA boss Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping, would have preferred the stronger form, Press Statement, to Elements to the Press. But the are different, and it is the job of a Security Council president to make sure the two are not mistaken or mis-represented, particularly not by a UN mission.
  Maybe if Delattre has deigned to take the question(s) about Mali, alongside the three hand-picked questions he did take about Libya, it would have been more difficult to mis-describe the Elements to the Press he read out as a formal Press Statement.
  So will this be fixed? Or will the running continue? Watch this site.

  Here is what Delattre read, and questions he refused to answer.
"We heard a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali, Mr Mongi Hamdi, who gave us an update on the Algiers peace talks and the Agreement on Peace and Security in Mali initialed on 1 March 2015... We encourage the armed groups of the coordination to initial the agreement."
  Inner City Press asked, what about the MNLA not signing? But Delattre said, for the second time in two days, "I have to run" -- then proceeded to stand to the side of the stakeout, decidedly NOT running. 
Update: French mission spokesperson Thierry Caboche has replied that the "Press Elements agreed by UNSC on Mali encourage Coordination groups, including MNLA, to initial Algiers agreement."
 It's appreciated, and added here in full - but since the Elements to the Press in the first paragraph cites that "Agreement on Peace and Security in Mali initialed on 1 March 2015 by representatives of the Malian Government, one of the coalition of armed groups Platform' and all members of the international mediation team" then never names the MNLA, the Mali question should have been taken and answered, alongside fully three questions on Libya.
    Inner City Press also asked about the UN's "independent" report into UN Peacekeepers shooting at protesters (who were angry about the UN using attack helicopters, but that's another story).
  Delattre did not answer about this report, which one would think like the report on the Tabit rapes in Darfur also covered by UN Peacekeeping through its UNAMID mission, would go to the Security Council.
  On February 26, two days before Delattre took over as Security Council President, the UN announced that "the high-level team mandated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to conduct an inquiry into the violent protests that took place in Gao, Mali, on 27 January is concluding an eight-day visit to Mali.
    “During this visit, the team met with the Malian national authorities, the authorities of the region of Gao, the national police and the civil protection service in Gao, representatives of MINUSMA, local leaders from the Cadre de Concertation des Notables de Gao, the associations who organized the protests on 27 January, authorities from the hospitals that received the victims, opposition parties, and several other interlocutors who could help shed light on the events. The team also spoke to the protestors who were injured during these events, and visited the bereaved families, to whom they expressed condolences.
  The team was "composed of three independent experts with extensive international experience: Bacre Waly Ndiaye (Senegal), Mark Kroeker (US) and Ralph Zacklin (UK)."
     Back on January 29, the UN said that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon  “deplores the incidents that took place on 27 January during a demonstration in front of the MINUSMA base in Gao town in the north of Mali. He is saddened by the violence that surrounded the demonstration and the reported death of at least 3 protesters and the injury of several others.”
   “The inquiry team will now travel to New York to present its preliminary report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It will present its final report by the end of March 2015,” the UN on Thursday said.
  What is the Security Council's role? Shouldn't the Security Council president for March, M. Delattre of France, answer this question?
   Back on January 6 when the UN Security Council met about Mali, Inner City Press waited and then asked UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous what he has been doing to protect the peacekeepers he is responsible for.  As is his pattern -- actually, his stated policy -- he refused to answer.
    It was Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, and not Ladsous, who on January 6 distributed his speech and came to take Press questions.
  Inner City Press asked Diop about the Mali talks in Algiers, and about the impact of Libya. On the latter, Diop said that “in 2012 the Mali crisis started when the war started in Libya and many Malian elements who were part of the Libyan army decided to come back home with the arms and ammunition. This started the destabilization of Mali.”
   Diop added, "In the southern part of Libya there is a group that has declared allegiance to the Islamic State.” (When asked to name the group he could not or would not.)
   The Libya talks have been indefinitely postponed. A Greek ship near Derna was bombed -- Inner City Press on January 5 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric by whom; he said the UN does not know.  The Free UN Coalition for Access has asked UN Peacekeepingwhy the speeches of Ladsous, unlike other UN officials, are not made available.
  Jump-cut forward to March 4, when after Elements to the Press on Mali and a read out on Libya, all three of the French Mission or #FrPrez handpicked questions -- France 24, Agence France Presse then Voice of America -- were about Libya. Inner City Press said twice, "Question on Mali?"
  Delattre smiled and said, I have to run, I know it is the second time.
  On March 3 Delattre used the same "I have to run" line to not answer a question about Burundi, where France is set to lead a Council trip on March 13, the draft Terms of Reference for which (which Inner City Press published here) do no mention the Cibitoke massacre nor opine if a third Presidential term would violate the Arusha agreement, which is cited.
 Later, the French mission put up the Mali "Elements to the Press," with no mention that a question about them had been asked, on microphone, and that Delattre had again said, "I have to run."
  We are compelled to note that UN Peacekeeping, run by France four times in a row most recently by Ladsous who also does not answer Press questions, needs to answer when its personnel shoot at demonstrators, as recently happened in Haiti too. 
  But there are no answers. Nor on the sale of UN posts in the DR Congo and Haiti by Deputy Permanent Representative Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire, here. We'll have more on this.

 
  

After Inner City Press Scoop on UN Posts Sold, Seller's Defenders Named, On the Run?


By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series
UNITED NATIONS, March 5 -- In UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, positions in missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti were corruptly put up for sale, a 49-page “Strictly Confidential” UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report obtained and exclusively published by Inner City Press on February 7 show.
  Despite the various UN answers to Inner City Press set forth below, the Cote d'Ivoire diplomat Bafetegue Ouattara depicted by OIOS soliciting and accepting the bribe is still inside UN headquarters. 
 In fact, he has gotten a promotion, to "charge d'affaires" with his putative boss Permanent Representative Yousoufou Bamba said on his way out. The question arises: why is Bamba and not the bribe-taker being removed?
 Who is protecting Bafetegue Ouattara?
 Inner City Press is infromed that Bafetegue Ouattara's defenders include Ibrahim Ouattara (known as "photocopie" due to his resemblance to his brother, President Alassane Ouattara) and two ministers, Mamadi Diane and Roland Adjo-Lessing.
 But what does all this mean for Ouattara's stated commitment to accountability, even for those in his party? 
  What also is the position of France, which has run UN Peacekeeping the last four times in a row and holds the presidency of the UN Security Council this month -- though Ambassador Francois Delattre has said "I have to run" the first two times Inner City Press asked a question, on  Burundi and Malivideo hereVine here. This will be a good one to answer. Watch this site.
  As to Bafetegue Ouattara, despite its own evidence showing the bribes and sale of UN posts, the UN's OIOS didn't make any recommendation about him, nor recommend any changes so it or the UN could.
  Now Inner City Press has learned that a replacement for the head of OIOS Carman Lapoint is being sought. The process to select the next holder of this lone UN oversight position should be transparent, so that real oversight can begin. We'll have more on this.
 On February 16 The Independent followed up, crediting Inner City Press and quoting an unnamed UN spokesman that "we cannot and should not pre-judge the results of the national investigation" and that "there are 36 UN police officers from the Ivory Coast deployed to the mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 60 to the operation in Haiti."
 On February 17, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq:
Question:  I wanted to ask about the OIOS [Office for Internal Oversight Services] report about acceptance of bribes for UN police posts that I asked about last week, yesterday The Independent published a story on it.  They quoted a UN spokesman.  I don't know if it was you or Stéphane [Dujarric].  But, what I wanted to ask you about was the substance of it.  It said, “We cannot and should not prejudge the international investigation.”  Since the OIOS report has bank records and you've already taken action, apparently, and repatriated 10 police officers, doesn't the UN think its own report is true?  So, what does it mean to say that… is Côte d’Ivoire supposed to reinvestigate the case before taking action on the Deputy Permanent Representative?  And, finally, they also mention there are 36 Ivoirian police officers in MONUSCO and 60 in MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti].  How many have actually been repatriated?  Thanks.

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Well, regarding that, basically, once the OIOS report was received, we took decisive measures, including ordering the repatriation of all the UN police officers who were involved.  All those officers involved are either gone or in the process of leaving the peacekeeping operations on which they served, which is to say MONUSCO and MINUSTAH.  Beyond that, no police from Côte d’Ivoire will be extended beyond their current assignments and deployment of any subsequent Ivoirian police to UN operations has been suspended until confirmation from Côte d’Ivoire that action has been taken on the OIOS investigation.  And regarding… and regarding the quotes that you had referred to, yes, we're not going to prejudge the results of the national investigation, which the UN has asked the Member State to conduct.  We've insisted that the investigation be very thorough and comprehensive.  We've stressed that the UN should be kept fully informed of the results of the Member State’s investigation and that necessary action should be taken as a result.  But, saying that, now, of course, it's up to them to do it and we won't prejudge the results of their actions.

Inner City Press:  I guess it's actions versus investigation.  You stand behind your own report since you've already sent police officers home based on it, right?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Yes, of course.  The people who were found in the internal investigation to have received improper assistance in getting their jobs, those are… like I said, I've either all left or in the process of leaving.
   On the last line, we're left assuming that "I've either all left" means "they've either all left." But how many have left? 
   And why has the Cote d'Ivoire Deputy Permanent Representative who sold UN Peacekeeping posts not been declared Persona Non Grata by the US, which says it cares about peacekeeping and UN reform?
  The UN strip searched and PNG-ed Indian diplomat Khobragade for an employment dispute. Here an Ivorian diplomat has sold posts in UN Peacekeeping. Where's the PNG?
  Tellingly, after the Press' exclusive February 7 exposure of corruption in Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping, its asking about it at the February 9 UN noon briefing and even the UN's long statement in spin and response at the February 10 noon briefing, UN insiders and Ladsous corruption enablers like Reuters and Agence France Pressereported not a word about the corruption.
  Reuters has been spoonfed lines about Ladsous MONUSCO refusing to act against the FDLR in the DRC, which is passes through with no analysis of Ladsous and MONUSCO's history, much less corruption. We'll have more on this.
  On February 12, despite the UN investigative report depicting in detail Cote d'Ivoire's Deputy Permanent Representative Bafetegue Ouattara soliciting and taking bribes to sell posts in Ladsous' MONUSCO and MINUSTAH missions, Inner City Press ran into Bafetegue Ouattara in the basement of the UN, by the garage. After an exchange of words, including a demand to know who leaked the report to Inner City Press (demand rejected), at noon Inner City Press askedvideo here:
Inner City Press: the corruption one is as follows:  It has to do with that OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] report that was leaked showing the payment of bribes for peacekeeping posts.  I’d asked Farhan, but I wanted to ask you more because, this morning, I actually ran into the named deputy representative of Côte d’Ivoire, Bafetegue Ouattara, in the building, and since this report, which began in 2013 and was finalized in 2014, has banking records proof of the payment of bribes for peacekeeping posts, I just wondered what does the UN do?  I understand that the peacekeepers have been asked to return home, but the person who solicited and took bribes… does the UN have no recourse at all?

Spokesman Dujarric:  You know, as you well know… As you well know, diplomats are sent here by their Governments.  We have no authority over them.  It is up to national Governments to take action against these, against individuals.

Inner City Press: Is there nothing that a diplomat could do even inside this building that the UN would take action on?  This was soliciting bribes for UN posts.

Spokesman:  As I said, this person works for the Government of the Côte d’Ivoire, it would be up to them to take appropriate action. 
  So again - there is NOTHING that a diplomat couldn't do at the UN? It cannot be said that this UN has zero tolerance for corruption - far from it. Later on February 12, UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous, who refuses to answer any Press questions, was hobnobbing with diplomats in the Delegates' Entrance to the UN General Assembly. We'll have more on this.
 On February 10 there was a partial answer, video here;transcript here, including

Inner City Press:  Do you think that this… the panel on peacekeeping operations under [José] Ramos-Horta, is this the type of obviously kind of hole in the system that was exploited for personal gain that should be reviewed?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  This is a clear-cut case of corruption which was found by our Office for Internal Oversight Services, and we're following up on that.  Clearly, quite a good measure of the follow-up also needs to be handled by the Member State involved.
   But there are many unresolved questions; watch this site.
 Two days after that exclusive, on February 9 Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq for the response of UN Peacekeeping, whose chief Herve Ladsous since Inner City Press raised corruption has refused all Press questions, specifically what Ladsous has done in the ten months he has been on notice of this corruption, as shown by the leaked documents. February 9 video here.
 On February 10, UN deputy spokesperson Haq came to the noon briefing with a prepared answer, which he read out. February 10 video here. He said that further recruitment of UN Police for Cote d'Ivoire has been suspended pending that country taking action.
 Inner City Press asked if all ten police described as paying bribes have been repatriated, for the status of the Deputy Permanent Representative Ouattara shown taking bribes, and if inquiries have been made with other countries which send soldiers or police to the UN.

  Haq said that the ten have left or are in the process of leaving. Six months after the final report? "In the process of leaving"?
 Worse, Haq said it is up to Cote d'Ivoire if the Deputy Permanent Representative remains in his post at and in the UN. Isn't collective bribes for UN posts a crime? And not only in Cote d'Ivoire? 
 Inner City Press asked Haq if this obvious loophole allowing corruption will be reviewed by Ban Ki-moon's panel of Peace Operations, to which Inner City Press has already forwarded the OIOS report. Video here.
 Another question that has been raised to Inner City Press by diplomats after reading the exclusive is whether Ladsous had a duty, at least before the UN Security Council's trip to Haiti last month led by Chile and the US to tell Council members that bribes had been collected for positions in the MINUSTAH mission there.
 Haq told Inner City Press that "this was corruption found by our own internal oversight." But the report says the UN's OIOS "received" information about these possibly corrupt practices on July 24, 2013. We'll have more on this.

 
  

Davutoglu's 3 UN Questions Are Only 2, Nothing on Press Freedom, Rohingya, Citigroup's Akbank Sale


By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, March 5 -- After Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for an hour on March 5, Ban's spokesman agreed to postpone his noon briefing for at least half an hour so Davutoglu could hold a press conference in the UN Press Briefing Room.
  But in that, Davutoglu's spokesman announced there would be only six questions: three from “UN” journalists and three from Turkish media, in Turkish. 
  Even that didn't hold. The first question was set aside for the UN Correspondents Association, become the UN's Censorship Alliance, here and here, which gave the question to its (Turkish) vice president from TRT, about Turkey's fight against terrorism.
  Next came Al Jazeera, about Staffan de Mistura's failing plan in Syria, then a hard-working Egyptian journalist about Egypt - Turkish relations. That was it.
   Inner City Press would like to know, among other things, if the topic of the Rohingya in Myanmar came up in the meeting with Ban -- an issue Davutoglu and Turkey have previously raised, and which Inner City Press covers, for example here.

   On the financial issued that consumed most of Davutoglu's visit in New York, does Citigroup's sale of its stake in Akbank at a loss signify a run to the exits?
  None of the three questions brought of freedom of the press. Inner City Press when it was over asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, if he would postpone the UN briefing for the prime ministers of all other UN member states. Dujarric said he is accommodating. We'll see.
 Dujarric also said that press freedom was NOT on Ban's agenda when he met with Davutoglu. For an hour.
   Davutoglu had said, in answer to a question in Turkish about his country's incursion into Syria, that he spoke with Ban Ki-moon (whom he called “Mister Moon”) before the incursion, and Ban hadn't offered any criticism -- seemingly, a green light.
  Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Dujarric to confirm this call, and Dujarric refused. One might ask, how may green lights are being given, or seen?  We'll have more on this.

 
  

On Mali, French PR Delattre Refused Question on Press Elements, Video Here, Then MINUSMA Calls It Press Statement


By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, March 5 -- The UN Security Council speaks in at least four different ways: resolutions, Presidential Statements, Press Statements and the weakest form of action, "Elements to the Press."
  When French Ambassador Francois Delattre came to the UN Security Council stakeout on March 4 as Council president he read out "Elements to the Press about Mali. 
  Inner City Press twice asked, Question on Mali? But Delattre for the second time in two days said, "I have to run" and declined to answer.Video here and embedded below.
   Now the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, has publicly mis-characterized the Elements to the Press that Delattre read out as a Press Statement or "Declaration a la Presse," including in a tweet at-naming the French Mission to the UN, which offered no correction. It was also e-mailed out (which should be similarly corrected) and put here on the MINUSMA Facebook page.
   Perhaps France, and ultimate MINUSMA boss Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping, would have preferred the stronger form, Press Statement, to Elements to the Press. But the are different, and it is the job of a Security Council president to make sure the two are not mistaken or mis-represented, particularly not by a UN mission.
  Maybe if Delattre has deigned to take the question(s) about Mali, alongside the three hand-picked questions he did take about Libya, it would have been more difficult to mis-describe the Elements to the Press he read out as a formal Press Statement.
  So will this be fixed? Or will the running continue? Watch this site.

  Here is what Delattre read, and questions he refused to answer.
"We heard a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali, Mr Mongi Hamdi, who gave us an update on the Algiers peace talks and the Agreement on Peace and Security in Mali initialed on 1 March 2015... We encourage the armed groups of the coordination to initial the agreement."
  Inner City Press asked, what about the MNLA not signing? But Delattre said, for the second time in two days, "I have to run" -- then proceeded to stand to the side of the stakeout, decidedly NOT running. 
Update: French mission spokesperson Thierry Caboche has replied that the "Press Elements agreed by UNSC on Mali encourage Coordination groups, including MNLA, to initial Algiers agreement."
 It's appreciated, and added here in full - but since the Elements to the Press in the first paragraph cites that "Agreement on Peace and Security in Mali initialed on 1 March 2015 by representatives of the Malian Government, one of the coalition of armed groups Platform' and all members of the international mediation team" then never names the MNLA, the Mali question should have been taken and answered, alongside fully three questions on Libya.
    Inner City Press also asked about the UN's "independent" report into UN Peacekeepers shooting at protesters (who were angry about the UN using attack helicopters, but that's another story).
  Delattre did not answer about this report, which one would think like the report on the Tabit rapes in Darfur also covered by UN Peacekeeping through its UNAMID mission, would go to the Security Council.
  On February 26, two days before Delattre took over as Security Council President, the UN announced that "the high-level team mandated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to conduct an inquiry into the violent protests that took place in Gao, Mali, on 27 January is concluding an eight-day visit to Mali.
    “During this visit, the team met with the Malian national authorities, the authorities of the region of Gao, the national police and the civil protection service in Gao, representatives of MINUSMA, local leaders from the Cadre de Concertation des Notables de Gao, the associations who organized the protests on 27 January, authorities from the hospitals that received the victims, opposition parties, and several other interlocutors who could help shed light on the events. The team also spoke to the protestors who were injured during these events, and visited the bereaved families, to whom they expressed condolences.
  The team was "composed of three independent experts with extensive international experience: Bacre Waly Ndiaye (Senegal), Mark Kroeker (US) and Ralph Zacklin (UK)."
     Back on January 29, the UN said that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon  “deplores the incidents that took place on 27 January during a demonstration in front of the MINUSMA base in Gao town in the north of Mali. He is saddened by the violence that surrounded the demonstration and the reported death of at least 3 protesters and the injury of several others.”
   “The inquiry team will now travel to New York to present its preliminary report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It will present its final report by the end of March 2015,” the UN on Thursday said.
  What is the Security Council's role? Shouldn't the Security Council president for March, M. Delattre of France, answer this question?
   Back on January 6 when the UN Security Council met about Mali, Inner City Press waited and then asked UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous what he has been doing to protect the peacekeepers he is responsible for.  As is his pattern -- actually, his stated policy -- he refused to answer.
    It was Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, and not Ladsous, who on January 6 distributed his speech and came to take Press questions.
  Inner City Press asked Diop about the Mali talks in Algiers, and about the impact of Libya. On the latter, Diop said that “in 2012 the Mali crisis started when the war started in Libya and many Malian elements who were part of the Libyan army decided to come back home with the arms and ammunition. This started the destabilization of Mali.”
   Diop added, "In the southern part of Libya there is a group that has declared allegiance to the Islamic State.” (When asked to name the group he could not or would not.)
   The Libya talks have been indefinitely postponed. A Greek ship near Derna was bombed -- Inner City Press on January 5 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric by whom; he said the UN does not know.  The Free UN Coalition for Access has asked UN Peacekeepingwhy the speeches of Ladsous, unlike other UN officials, are not made available.
  Jump-cut forward to March 4, when after Elements to the Press on Mali and a read out on Libya, all three of the French Mission or #FrPrez handpicked questions -- France 24, Agence France Presse then Voice of America -- were about Libya. Inner City Press said twice, "Question on Mali?"
  Delattre smiled and said, I have to run, I know it is the second time.
  On March 3 Delattre used the same "I have to run" line to not answer a question about Burundi, where France is set to lead a Council trip on March 13, the draft Terms of Reference for which (which Inner City Press published here) do no mention the Cibitoke massacre nor opine if a third Presidential term would violate the Arusha agreement, which is cited.
 Later, the French mission put up the Mali "Elements to the Press," with no mention that a question about them had been asked, on microphone, and that Delattre had again said, "I have to run."
  We are compelled to note that UN Peacekeeping, run by France four times in a row most recently by Ladsous who also does not answer Press questions, needs to answer when its personnel shoot at demonstrators, as recently happened in Haiti too. 
  But there are no answers. Nor on the sale of UN posts in the DR Congo and Haiti by Deputy Permanent Representative Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire, here. We'll have more on this.