Friday, 21 August 2015

UN Panics Amid Growing Scandal on Child Rape by “Peace” Troops

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Heads are rolling at the United Nations — sort of, at least among lower-level officials — as a mushrooming scandal involving UN “peacekeeping” troops systematically raping and abusing women and children in Africa continues to expand. At first, top UN leadership tried to keep the abuse under wraps, even firing the official who exposed the initial revelations, Anders Kompass, before having him investigated and escorted from his office under armed guard. Now, with a global outcry growing too loud to ignore, the UN has started taking some action — an “investigation” here, a resignation there, and so on. But critics say it is not even close to enough and smacks of an effort to sacrifice low-level minions to protect UN bosses — up to and including Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.  

The latest round of fresh accusations, against the so-called blue helmets serving in the Central African Republic with the UN “Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission” (MINUSCA), surfaced on August 19. The newest allegations involve three females, including a minor, who were raped by UN troops. Those charges came just a week after similar rape cases, along with the murder of a 16-year-old boy and his father, were revealed the week before by Amnesty International. And those charges came after multiple previous rounds of UN and foreign “peace” troops being exposed ruthlessly abusing civilians, and especially young boys and girls, in the Central African Republic and beyond.  

But perhaps the most serious scandal facing the UN at the moment — after all, UN troops have been exposed raping and terrorizing women and children in UN-occupied nations all over the world — involves its handling of the latest horrors. UN leadership's attacks on UN human-rights official Kompass for initially blowing the lid off child rape by “peace” forces, for example, drew global condemnation and made headlines all over the world. Documents leaked by Code Blue later exposed the highest levels of UN leadership at a meeting in Turin, Italy, conspiring to destroy Kompass rather than rein in child-raping “peace” troops or protect the children.           

Now, facing outrage even from many of its traditional allies, the UN is scrambling to save face. In a statement released by UN boss Ban's spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, the secretary-general “stressed that zero tolerance means zero complacency and zero impunity and that when allegations are substantiated, all personnel — whether military, police or civilians — must be held accountable.” Ban, who said he was “deeply disturbed,” also expressed his “resolve” to “help the affected individuals” and “preserve the integrity of the UN flag [sic].” To that end, two relatively low-level UN officials have resigned so far; Flavia Pansieri, the “deputy high commissioner for human rights,” resigned “for health reasons,” while the UN peacekeeping mission chief for the Central African Republic, Babacar Gaye of Senegal, resigned last week amid the mushrooming rape scandals.  

Watchdogs were not impressed by the minor sacrifice. Government Accountability Project Executive Director Bea Edwards, for instance, said the UN hierarchy was responding “as if the issue were a diplomatic crisis rather than a series of crimes.” “Simply selecting a dispensable diplomat from somewhere in the ranks to show the world that the UN is serious about prohibiting rape is both inappropriate and unconvincing,” she said. “In fact, to be blunt, it's ridiculous. This latest resignation reveals just how out of touch the Secretariat is about violent crime.” Edwards also said the UN must allow the governments involved to “investigate criminal allegations without interference.” And that means legal immunity for UN staff must be waived in these cases, she added.

Other critics also suggested that more must be done. “Not only did Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri fail to act, but she was part of a coterie of top UN officials who punished the only member of her office who sounded the alarm, veteran staffer Anders Kompass, by firing him,” noted Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental watchdog based in Geneva. “The message heard loud and clear throughout the world body was that speaking out against the banality of bureaucratic complicity with evil will kill one's career, that it's better to stay silent. Therefore, to the extent that Ms. Pansieri is in fact resigning over her office's shameful inaction, indifference and cover-up concerning the rape of children by peacekeepers, then today marks a small step toward greater accountability for malfeasance by UN officials. In this episode, as in many others throughout the UN, minimal levels of scrutiny and acceptance of responsibility is desperately required.”

Amid a growing chorus of criticism from around the world, the UN also launched allegedly “independent” and “external” “investigations” into the issues. But those probes are already under fire from critics, who point out that the panel is neither external, nor independent. In fact, according to information compiled by analysts, most of the panel members have conflicts of interest and depend on the UN for future employment opportunities. The probe is supposedly looking at the handling of Kompass' case, the ongoing abuse and rape of civilians by UN and international “peace” forces, along with “a broad range of systemic issues related to how the UN responds to serious information of this kind.”  

In an interview with The New American, however, ex-UN Under-Secretary-General Inga-Britt Ahlenius, the former chief of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) until 2010, said responsibility over the UN's handling of the Kompass case goes straight back to Secretary-General Ban. Ahlenius said the handling by the UN of the Central African Republic scandal is “unfortunately a consequence of a decay of culture in the UN under Ban's poor leadership.” “I think any decent person should resign after the disclosure of the collusion they participated in, or silently accepted,” Ahlenius said, referring to “the whole Turin gang” that participated in the decision to investigate Kompass. She also blasted Ban's “invisible” role at the meeting in Turin, saying he was hiding behind his chef de cabinet (chief of staff) but was ultimately the one responsible for the process leading to the “investigation” of Kompass, whom she described as “the only person that has acted professionally and morally correct in my view.”

Ahlenius had harsh words for her successor at the UN OIOS, Carman Lapointe, as well, calling her a “disgrace to her profession and a disgrace to the UN.” While she was clearly outraged with the behavior of other UN officials, Lapointe, in particular, has totally undermined the investigative agency and should resign, Ahlenius said. “The OIOS, as devised by the General Assembly, is supposed to be operationally independent,” Ahlenius said. “LaPointe is not [Ban’s] assistant. She should have been assisting in oversight.” “The culture [at the UN under Ban] has decayed to the point that these senior UN officials in Turin don’t even realize how ridiculous this looks to the rest of the world,” she added. “These people were colluding against Kompass — and these are the supreme authorities at the UN — and yet they don’t seem to recognize or understand what would happen if this surfaces.... The problem for the UN in this case is that it surfaced and the public found out about it.”

“The Central African Republic affair is a sign that shows how accountability will actually have to be demanded from the UN,” Ahlenius continued. “It won’t come on its own.” The media has a crucial role to play, she said — but so far, it has largely failed in its role of holding the UN and its leaders accountable. “The big papers have really just left the UN unwatched,” Ahlenius explained, adding that reporters who do try to uncover and publicize the corruption are often ostracized by UN officials, making their jobs far more difficult. That means it is more important than ever for the press to do its job when it comes to monitoring the UN. “If you don’t hold people accountable, the organization will continue to decay and drift into irrelevance,” she said, urging journalists to dig deeper and closely scrutinize the investigation being carried out by Ban's panel.  

As the UN scandals continue to expand, the criticism has grown louder and louder, with even many long-time UN allies expressing outrage and demanding action, accountability, and an end to  the corruption and impunity that plagues the outfit. But it is not a new problem, and as The New American has been reporting for years, UN troops have been systematically raping children in countries all over the world. In one Ivorian town, a survey revealed that 80 percent of minor girls were being raped and forced into sexual acts by UN forces.   

If nothing else, the world must work to ensure that child-raping and murderous UN “peace” troops are held to account, along with those who are supposed to oversee them, activists say. But even those modest goals are far from a certainty at this point. In the United States, legislation to end U.S. participation in the UN and evict it from American soil is again sitting in Congress. It is up to the American people, the largest funders of the UN, to demand an end to the horror show.

Photo of UN troops: Marie-Lan Nguyen

Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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