Published on May 3, 2013
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 2, 2013 -- What is the relation between the UN's World Press Freedom Day festivities and its Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous repeatedly and on camera refusing to answer Press questions on mass rapes in the Congo, murky disarmament in Mali, cholera in Haiti and, yes, his own role during the Rwanda genocide?
Inner City Press put this question to Ladsous' spokesperson Kieran Dwyer on Thursday. Raw video here, from Minute 1:41:50.
Doesn't Ladsous' open refusal to answer critical Press questions undermine the UN's ability to tell governments they should answer such questions?
After a lengthy answer by South Sudanese journalist Oliver Modi to another Inner City Press question, Dwyer took the floor to say, "it is absolutely true that Mr Ladsous is on record that he will not take questions from you at this point." Edited video here and embedded below.
Dwyer said this is because of "innuendo" and "personal slurs" even "before he took office."
What Inner City Press reported was HOW Ladsous took office -- as a last minute replacement for Jerome Bonnafont. Maybe Ladsous didn't like that being reported.
In fact, in the UN Correspondents Association, Tim Witcher of Agence France Presse asked for action against Inner City Press for that story. But both before and after publication, numerous Security Council Permanent Representatives told Inner City Press this was the truth. That's not innuendo.
After UNCA's Executive Committee stepped things up and tried to get Inner City Press thrown out, including of the UN, Ladsous latched onto it and on May 29, 2012 announced he would not longer answer Inner City Press' questions. It was pure opportunism on Ladsous' part.
Inner City Press managed to ask one follow up question to Dwyer: was asking about Ladsous' speeches and memos during the Rwanda genocide in 1994, when he was France's Deputy Permanent Representative, the type of "innuendo" used to justify not answering questions about mass rape by the Congolese Army?
Dwyer re-took the floor, saying that linking Ladsous and The Drone he moved to procure for Western Africa (Cote d'Ivoire) and DR Congo even before having approval was "baseless." But these were complaints made to Inner City Press by member states in the C-34 committee on peacekeeping.
Like the Department of Public Information has tried, Dwyer tried to use Inner City Press' introduction f the twitter hashtag #LADSOUS2013 in December 2012 to justify Ladsous having started to refusal Inner City Press questions in May 2012. The dates just don't work.
Finally Dwyer claimed that when Ladsous refused Inner City Press' question about the rapes in Minova on November 27 and took other journalists out into the hall, it was only French radio. But Inner City Press filmed it, and put it online: the gaggle included for example Reuters Louis Charbonneau, who despite his name is not French, and not radio. Video here.
Dwyer claimed that despite Ladsous' stonewalling, he answers questions. But even when true, it's on a delay.
Inner City Press asks a question, like to Ban Ki-moon on December 5 to Ban Ki-moon and December 7 to Ladsous, and DPKO gives the answer to Reuters, Charbonneau or Michelle Nichols, and AFP's Witcher who has more recently filed a complaint to defend Ladsous, but not to Inner City Press.
But this could not be said: Dwyer asked DPI's Maher Nasser to "redirect" the discussion. To be continued. Watch this site.