Tuesday, July 20, 2010

UN Does Not “Police the Police,” Even in Sudan, Passive As Leaving Birao in CAR

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 20 -- The UN's job, in Sudan and by extension elsewhere, “is not to police the police,” UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky told the Press on Monday. Inner City Press had asked about reports of torture and crackdown on independent media by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service.

While saying there may be “further guidance” from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Nesirky said it's not the UN's job to “police the police.”

But if the UN is spending over $1 billion each on two peacekeeping missions in Sudan, with stated goals including ensuring a fair referendum on the independence of South Sudan and the protection of civilians, shouldn't the UN have been aware of this police activity, including torture? If the UN was aware of it, why did it not speak?

Back on July 7, Inner City Press asked the UN about

Inner City Press: a crackdown on the press. Three newspapers have been closed in Khartoum, and youth, with this Girifna, have been arrested by the Government, all for purportedly supporting separation or the referendum for the south to break away. Does the UN, I heard your statement of Mr. Bassolé, but what does either Mr. [Haile] Menkerios or the UN say about the north-south issue? And it’s related to that or not related to that, are reports that recent killings in Abyei are intended to drive the Dinka people out so that the vote would go Khartoum’s way. Is there any, what’s the UN doing on the north-south front rather than the Darfur front?

Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq: Well, certainly the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is working very clearly with all the parties trying to ensure calm on the north-south front. I don’t have anything in particular to say about the situation in Abyei right now. As for the crackdown on the press, these allegations we’ll check first and foremost with our Human Rights and UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] colleagues whether they have anything to say on that.

But since July 7, nothing has been said on this by the UN, its “Human Rights” (Commission?) or UNESCO. And now on July 19, the UN again said maybe one of its constituent units -- DPKO -- may have something to say. We'll be waiting.

Inner City Press asked asked about the Central African Republic government's report that it retook the town of Birao from rebels. The UN's peacekeeping contingent in Birao, 300 strong, “confirmed” the government's retaking.

But why didn't the UN, with 300 peacekeepers on site, report the initial attack and take over by rebels? Why didn't the UN's 300 peacekeepers do anything?

The outgoing Holmes in Sudan, torture and Birao in CAR not shown

On July 19, UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky said that DPKO and Ban Ki-moon had made it clear they would prefer from the MINURCAT mission to stay deployed. But when Idriss Deby threw the Chad component out, DPKO did not even try to keep the CAR component in Birao and elsewhere.

Nesirky also referred to outgoing top UN humanitarian John Holmes. Inner City Press saw Holmes on Monday leaving the North Lawn building and ran after him to ask: what about Birao?

Holmes to his credit stopped. He explained that DPKO had said to keep the CAR component, with the Chadian, wouldn't be “sustainable.”

It's a cost - benefit analysis by the UN, without transparency or accountability, and the Central African Republicans, like the Sudanese, are losing. Watch this site.

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