Monday, March 7, 2016
Inner City Press First Reported South Africa Left Darfur For Violation, Gave Weapons In Jan Near Kutum
By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series
UNITED NATIONS, March 7 -- UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous was willing to use Congolese troops in Central African Republic who ended up engaging in child rape and other abuses. Then they were given ample time to repatriate or leave the country; some twenty are still there.
But there are other inconsistencies in Ladsous' peacekeeping, for example in Darfur. There, Ladsous more forcefully demanded the repatriation of South Africa's troops -- not for sexual abuse, but for “tactical” issues. Inner City Press exclusively learned of this and how last week, just before the UN threw Inner City Press out on February 19, and declared it Banned from all UN premises on February 22. Petition here.
Here, exclusively reported by Inner City Press and again today, is the outrage. Unlike with “his” Congolese rapists in CAR, Ladsous very much wanted the South African troops to leave Darfur. Inner City Press' sources, on the last day it was able to move freely and without Ban Ki-moon's minders around the UN's second floor, was told the UN accused the South African contingent of a "tactical" violation.
Inner City Press was exclusively informed of this on February 19, hours before being physically thrown out of the UN; it exclusively published the news, from the park in front of the UN, on February 24, then re-entered on a muhc reduced access pass and in order to ask about it on February 25 (others then reported the departure, without credit.)
But what could the tactical violation be? In another seemingly scripted Q&A colloquy, Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric lavished praise on South Africa's battalion - even as DPKO threw them out.
Inner City Press is exclusively informed that the basis of Ladsous' anger, leading to his insistence that the South African unit involved be repatriated, in reaction to which South African pulled out all of its troops and the UN and media dissembled, was the performance of South African troops in early January in Anka, near Kutum.
While UNAMID (as on Ladsous' cover up of rapes in Tabit) and thenUN News Center, then SABC and Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople dissembled, Inner City Press' sources say the South African unit in the incident gave up weapons to their attackers, showed themselves unable or unwilling to protect civilians, and didn't even inform UNAMID for six hours.
In anger -- Ladsous has his own murky history with ICC-indicted Omar al Bashir -- Ladsous insisted the South African unit leave. But in typical Ladsous fashion, he never said WHY they should leave.
So, as with rapes in the Central African Republic, call it another Ladsous cover up.
This time assisted by the UN Spokespeople (that's the norm) and the country's media (natch). The SABC correspondent, on the board of the UN Censorship Alliance which is again trying to get Inner City Press out of the UN, was when Inner City Press was physically ousted from the UN on the evening of February 19 standing pre-positioned at the gate, laughing and filming. Ambush indeed.
On March 2, even as South Africa is leaving UNAMID, Ban Ki-moon and the AU have named South Africa's UN Ambassador as head of UNAMID: "United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma announced today the appointment of Jeremiah Nyamane Kingsley Mamabolo of South Africa as Deputy Joint Special Representative for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). "
This was never done for, for example, earlier South African Ambassador - and sometimes UN skeptic - Kumalo. We'll have more on this.
Ladsous, as Inner City Press has reported, has no problems with war crimes -- see his favors for Burundi's military -- nor even with Bashir, with whom he met without giving any read-out. But with this exposed, and Ladsous unable to open his mouth without, for example, linking rapes to R&R, the answer was to throw the South Africans out for making it clear how weak and craven to Bashir's Sudan Ladsous' DPKO is.
We'll have more on this -- even with the restricted access to which Ban Ki-moon, protested in Sri Lanka today, has confined Inner City Press.
This is the lack of oversight of UN Peacekeeping, that money can be used this way. Is is the same lack of oversight which allows Ladsous to cover up rapes, from Darfur to CAR, then to openly refuse to answer Inner City Press questions about the cover ups. But this one involves money, public money
On February 25 after filing a legal letter with the UN to not touch its office and papers, Inner City Press entered and asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript:
Inner City Press: In Darfur, the… South Africa has said that it's re… you know, pulling its entire force back, 1 April, and what I wanted to ask is whether… I've heard and published that it's due to something called a tactical violation by the South African battalion. And I've also heard that DFS [Department of Field Support] is, unlike in other repatriation cases, stands to pay for the entire repatriation to South Africa. Can you, one, state why they're being repatriated, and two, why DFS would pay for it?
Spokesman: I do confirm that they are being repatriated. I will get you some… I have some detail… I thought I had some details here, but we'll see what I can get you right after the briefing.
Inner City Press: I guess my question is, given this… although this doesn't appear to be a case of sexual abuse repatriation, does Ban Ki-moon's stated commitment to transparency and repatriations cover repatriations like this? And I want to insist to know who's paying, and if the UN is paying, why it's paying.
Spokesman: I will get some… I will get more detail…
We'll stay on this.
Amid a litany of rape charges against UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, Inner City Press exclusively obtained and on February 12 published UN emails showing another round of sexual abuse of minors in Ouaka prefecture in the Central African Republic by UN Peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Click here to view.
While the story continues, we note that Reuters UN bureau first triest to undermine the story, then stole it without credit - and on February 18 tried to undermine Inner City Press live-streaming Periscope video from the UN Security Council stakeout. Welcome to the UN Censorship Alliance.
After Inner City Press on February 15 asked about the email its had published - and Reuters' UN bureau chief Louis Charbonneau, notably,tried to dismiss and then stole the story - on February 16 UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq in the noon briefing read out a statement confirming nearly all of the email Inner City Press had published: that there were four new victims, minors, troops from DR Congo.
But Haq did not say that two of the victims had children from the statutory rape. So Inner City Press asked Haq to confirm that, and asked who would pay: the UN or the DRC soldiers? Haq said there are meetings in Ban's office to respond to just such issues, after December's Deschamps report. Video here.
And then Reuters, even while its editor Dan Grebler said the first theft was being looked into, just retyped and stole it again, this time by its UN correspondent Michelle Nichols, here.
It was this same Nichols who, at the UN Security Council stakeout on February 18 while Inner City Press was live-streaming after asking about a draft statement on Palestine, cut in loudly with "I see you Periscoping!" And? So what? UN missions and the UN itself are broadcasting inside the UN on Periscope. Why would one media try to censor others?
On February 15, Reuters first tried to claim these were "old" rapes, here -- then when shown otherwise, simply stole the story with no credit.This is apparently policy.
So Inner City Press raised the issue of theft of exclusives (and lack of objectivity, at least at the UN) to Reuters itself. For now, we've received this, cc-ed also not only to the (repeat) offender but also to Reuters' genial seeming Brian Moss and Clive McKeef:
"Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. The appropriate Reuters staff will look into it and get back to you as soon as feasible.
Desk Editor, Americas Desk"
But but February 18, still no response. It's not that complicated. Or was the Reuters correspondent's "intervention" the response? We'll have more on this too.
The underlying emails, dated February 11, 2016, describe at least four underage victims, two of whom were impregnated by the rapist UN peacekeepers -- "in the locality Ngakobo in the Ouaka prefecture."
On February 15, after emailing questions for two days to UN spokespeople in CAR and New York, Inner City Press at the UN's noon briefing asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about the rapes, and the email it published on February 12. Haq answered, dodging on part of the email but not denying it. Video here.
Then Associated Press asked, what about these new allegations? Video here. Haq answered - and from that, AP wrote its own derivative and belated story -- without credit, and without any mention of the critique of the UN in the emails. This is how it works, or doesn't.
This too - Reuters UN "bureau chief" on Monday evening first reflexively came to the UN's defense saying that "Alleged Central African Republic rapes UN spox talked about today are same ones UN CAR said Feb 4 it was probing," citing (what else) a Reuters story of February 4 -- about a Human Rights Watch report about rapes in Bambari. But read the February 11 emails Inner City Press exclusively published, here:
“Herewith sharing with you a report I have just received from UNICEF indicating four minor girls aged between 16 and 17 years were victims of sexual exploitation and abuse allegedly committed by members of the DRC battalion in the locality Ngakobo in the Ouaka prefecture.”
Up the email chain, Mercedes Gervilla in UN headquarters writes that “it would seem that many among the troops concerned, including Commanding officers were well aware of the abuse to which these children were being subjected. I also regret to inform you that in addition to these new 4 cases, there will likely be two more...”. [We'll have more on this.]
This is called... spinning for the UN. This is a trend at Reuters, even last week, here.
And there is a history: this same Reuters UN Bureau Chief Lou Charbonneau, when challenged, wrote to Stephane Dujarric, UN Spokesman, trying to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, here.
When this was exposed, Charbonneau cited Reuters to get his email to the UN taken out of Google's search, saying he never meant for it to be public and it was somehow copyrighted. (See his filing here, made public by EFF's ChillingEffects.org). That's censorship... by Reuters.
This this case, after being shown this reflexive defense of the UN was wrong, Reuters simply re-wrote the story and stole it, with no credit.
And now we must go back: Charbonneau announced a policy of not crediting Inner City Press, see here.
This was raised at the time to Reuters, including to Stephen J. Adler. What kind of company is this?
(Inner City Press previously asked the decaying UN Correspondents Association, while it tried to censor Press coverage of its boss, to promulgate a best practice for media at the UN to credit others' exclusives; it never happened. AP at the UN speaks for this UNCA, and apparently it for AP.)
Having been told by sources of more rapes by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, Inner City Press on January 26 reported them and on January 27 asked the UN's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric to confirm them - but he wouldn't. UN transcript here. Video here.
So what is the protocol of UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, who linked the rapes to "R&R," here? How many more do they know about?
The UN report on rapes in the Central African Republic, released on December 17, found that UN Peacekeeping's Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous “illustrate[s] the UN's failure to respond to allegations of serious human rights violations in the meaningful way.”
Ladsous has yet to take any questions about the report...
When the Panel's three members held their December press conference, Inner City Press asked about Ladsous' failure to vet and his linking of rapes to “R&R.” Video here. Marie Deschamps said pointedly she wouldn't comment on Ladsous' remarks; Yasmin Sooka said these are crimes for punishment, not recreation.
As the last question, Inner City Press asked what it had wanted to ask Ban, and tried to ask Dujarric: what does this say about Ban's management? Video of Q&A here. Didn't Ban's chief of staff Malcorra, criticized in the report, do it for Ban? Didn't the “senior official” who ostensibly let the rape information die on the vine in the 38th floor work in an atmosphere created by Ban's nine years? We will pursue this.
In December 2015, Ban allowed those who cover him, at least the UN Correspondents Association, to sell seats with him for $6,000. And it is these same who have airbrushed out Ladsous and others. We'll have more on this.