Monday, June 12, 2017

On DRC, Nikki Haley Calls for HRC Probe ofDeaths of Sharp & Calatan, No DSS Presser Yet

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, June 5 – After the UN belatedly focused into the murder of UN experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan, unprotected by the UN in the DR Congo, on June 5 US Ambassador Nikki Haley said "they and their families deserve justice. We owe it to their legacy to end the human rights abuses being carried out by armed groups and the DRC government against the Congolese people. We hope other nations will join us in supporting a UN-led investigation and Human Rights Council-led inquiry into these horrific acts." The call came on the eve of Haley's speech to the HRC.  Meanwhile, as Inner City Press has reported, the UN Department of Safety and Security's alleged burying of reports should not itself be covered up. After Inner City Press exclusively reported that UN Department of Safety and Security's top officer Peter Drennan -- to whom the Board of Inquiry report on Sharp and Catalan would be filed on July 31 -- ordered that a security report on UNESCO chief Irina Bokova be “buried” last year due to the personal political implications for Drennan if Bokova instead of Antonio Guterres became UN Secretary General, the UN's response was to attack the leak. (On May 23 they insisted a Garowe, Somalia Board of Inquiry report was shared with interested parties). Also on May 23, when Inner City Press asked about criticism of the UN in the DRC, the response was to defend everything. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: I'm sure you've seen the editorial in The New York Times saying, “astoundingly irresponsible approach by the United Nations to an obviously dangerous and unusually important task”.  They also question what's been accomplished for the billions spent in the… in the DRC.  Given that it's an editorial and it's a major newspaper, what's your response to their evaluation?

Spokesman:  I think it's a little… I would say it's a little disappointing.  First of all, as soon as we heard of the disappearance of our colleagues, the mission [MONUSCO] put in place quite a large number of assets to track them down.  And I think that was done very quickly.  As you know, the UN doesn't have the authority to launch a criminal investigation.  We, obviously, would work closely, should… and put one in effect should the Security Council take the decision to launch an investigation to the killings of two experts who were working for Security Council Sanctions… Sanctions Committee.  I think we've seen that the… the MINUS… the Congolese authorities have completed… said they've completed their investigation.  We've not been fully briefed on it.  Obviously, I think we're… you know, there… that was… seemed to have been done with quite a bit of rapidity.  But we do hope to be briefed on it.  And, second, I would add that, you know, these… the contractual basis under which these experts operate is one that is put in place by the General Assembly on consultants and that they… these… the staff member were fully briefed on security protocols.
Inner City Press:  the underlying article says no health insurance, for example.  Is this something that António Guterres, in seeing what happened to these people, may change?

Spokesman:  They… the protocol, as far as our understanding, for death and injury for what happened are the same for staff and consultants.  That's my understanding.  In terms of health insurance, following the rules put in place by the General Assembly, consultants, across the board, carry their own health insurance and they're not covered by the United Nations.

Inner City Press:  Does the Secretary-General see any need for reforms that you can articulate from…

Spokesman:  I think there is always a need to see how we can improve the safety and security of our staff.  
On May 22 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on the Board of Inquiry (BOI) report into the death of Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalán, can you confirm that it's… it's due 31 July and will go to Mr. [Peter] Drennan?  Can you say whether the Board of Inquiry report into Garoowe, Somalia, which took place before that has, in fact, been concluded and if it will be made public?  And I want to ask again what I asked Farhan [Haq] on Friday, whether Mr. Drennan, given issues that have arisen about his own staff representative saying that reports have been buried, whether he can do some kind of a press conference.

Spokesman:  I don't have anything for you on Mr. Drennan on the second part of your question.  On the first part, the particular BOI on the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] will be done by the end of July.
  Last week the UN said, "The Department is deeply concerned about the leaking to the media of confidential information concerning matters of security. The leaking of confidential security information is irresponsible and may well create additional security risks to the UN." This Note to Correspondents was tellingly not put on the UN's website unlike other Notes to Correspondents, but was sent to all correspondents resident at the UN, and was treated, or excused or ignored, unlike identical statements this year from Washington. The UN's failure to respond to the substance is indicative of why today's UN is failing; the various coverage is why the UN has not yet been held accountable, and foreseeably will not be in these cases, absent increased scrutiny of the UN. Inner City Press published more, here and below: that the UN Board of Inquiry (BOI) report into the killing of its own staff in Garowe, Somalia was also buried, and the informed opinion that "former SG, Ban ki Moon, was at the top of the accountability framework; and will no longer be held to account for decisions at that time. So, hopefully, the results of the BOI will be made public." So what will "new" Secretary General Antonio Guterres do? The claim there was no withholding is belied not only by Mike Croll's allegation (below), but the March 16, 2017 email by Mary J. Mone, UNESCO's Deputy of Chief, Safety, Security and Transport Section: "in relation to the Observation Report - which we have not yet received - would you be kind enough to share the status on this please." This was copied to, among others, Mick Brown and Michael McNulty (audio here.) This was many months after it had been prepared - and buried, according to Mike Croll. Mr. Croll had come to the UN after being head of Security for Catherine Ashton of the EU; most recently he questioned Nicola Sturgeon during her visit to the UN, chiding her for seeking to break the United Kingdom at the United Nations. It is Croll who's said to charge Drennan with burying the report - both, then, should appear at press conference(s). 
On May 19, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about it, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: yesterday, I'd asked about a memorandum in the Department of Safety and Security (DSS) alleging, among other things, that a report… safety report regarding Irina Bokova had been, quote, buried, and this is an allegation by the staff union within DSS.  They also… so my question is, I still… rather than getting a substantive answer to the issues raised in the memo, which is that Peter Drennan, for personal, political reasons buried the memo.  I saw the note to correspondents that talked about leaks are unsafe.  I want to… first of all, I want to know how does…

Deputy Spokesman:  That's not all that it said.  It said that the information… that memo that we put out, the note mentioned that UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] and its security had been fully informed, and, indeed, that was the appropriate thing to do, since they are the people who are her security.

Inner City Press: Maybe you've seen the memo, because now I've published the entire memo.  And what the memo states is that this is the staff union of DSS saying, for example, that a Board of Inquiry report about the death of UN staff in Garoowe, Somalia, was never made public, and they've requested that it be made public.  And they've made similar requests about other documents, and they say that DSS is putting staff at risk by keeping these reports secret.  So, the question was never whether they told Bokova.  Right in the memo, it says the staff union acknowledges that Bokova herself was told.  What they're saying is that these documents, by being kept secret for, they say, personal, political reasons, put staff at risk.  And that is what I'm asking a substantive response on, not a statement against… against leaks.

Deputy Spokesman:  The substantive… no, no, we gave… that wasn't a statement against leaks.  Again…

Inner City Press: It said leaks.

Deputy Spokesman:  There was a sentence at the end which mentioned the problem of leaking security data, the effect it may have on our security.  Beyond that, the larger part of that note, as you know, because you'll have seen the full note, and it's not very long, was about how the information was shared.  And the point was that the Department of Safety and Security shared the information with Irina Bokova's security, which is to say UNESCO security.  And that was the appropriate course of action.  So that is a substantive response, and it is a denial of the idea that the report was buried. 
   The idea, according to the memo, from from not-junior UN official Mike Croll; more soon. Guterres holdover spokesman, who passed without comment the windowless focus booth he has confined the Press to, did not seek to distinguish any part of these leaks- instead, he only sought to evict and still restrict Inner City Press, see Paragraphs 9-10, here. Why did the UN, as if by coincidence, search Inner City Press' lone remaining workspace on May 18? The only solution is restoration to the stolen S-303. Also cc-ed here is Michael "Mick" Brown, supervisor of Deputy McNulty who evicted and broken Inner City Press' computer, and who excused surveillance of Inner City Press and UNCA assaults on it. Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, and hours later he emailed all correspondents an attack on "leaks" - "In response to a question asked at the noon briefing about a DSS assessment concerning Irina Bokova, the Spokesman has the following to say: The allegation that security information was 'buried' is strongly denied. The relevant information has been provided to Ms Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO, in the appropriate manner. In addition the substance of the report was prepared in conjunction with the UNESCO security staff and as a result UNESCO security staff, who are responsible for the safety and security of Ms Bokova and UNESCO, were fully aware of the report's contents. The Department is deeply concerned about the leaking to the media of confidential information concerning matters of security. The leaking of confidential security information is irresponsible and may well create additional security risks to the UN." Whistleblowers - different whistleblowers - within the Department of Safety and Security say that the claimed concern about Bokova is a pretext. What has roiled feathers in DSS is the assertion that Under Secretary General Drennan moved to bury the report for his personal political reasons in case Bokova became Secretary General. We'll have more on this.
Fearing retaliation, the UN's Kenneth Rosario two months ago wrote to Drennan to formally notify him of the charge of burying the security report, citing the deadly consequence of such UN burying in the cases of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad and later in Algiers. Rosario noted that even in those cases, no one alleged that the reports were suppressed by a head of Department like Drennan. 
The documents cited specific and credible death threats against Bokova, the UN system's top ranking official in France, and the letter bomb attack on the International Monetary Fund / World Bank office, ascribing it to the Greek anarchist group Conspiracy of Fire Cells or SPF. 

Rosario's fear of retaliation was and is well-founded: for example, the UN fired Swedish official Anders Kompass after he blew the whistle on peacekeepers' sexual abuse of children in the Central African Republic. More recently Francis Gurry of the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization has been accused of retaliation; here is Inner City Press' story on WIPO's North Korea business, including a response from US Ambassador Nikki Haley to Inner City Press' May 16 question on the matter. UN DSS itself was involved in the no due process eviction of Inner City Press and targeting of it since to hinder its investigative reporting in the UN. Audio here. But the reporting will continue: watch this site.