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UN lifts lid on incompetent, abusive and corrupt peacekeepers


Times

Apr 19, 2013 | Sapa-AP

The chief procurement officer in the UN peace-building mission in Sierra Leone signed three contracts worth more than $2.7 million in total, way in excess of his $50 000 per contract limit.

UN Flag. File photo.

Photograph by: Ralph Orlowski/ Getty Images

A staff member in the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo used a UN vehicle without authorisation to transport sacks of a precious mineral into a neighbouring country. The UN mission in Liberia was unable to account for 70 vehicles.

Those were just three of the examples fraud, bribery, financial and procurement misconduct and incompetence cited in the annual report of the UN’s internal watchdog, which circulated Thursday.

Since the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq that blew up after the US-led invasion, the UN has sought to strengthen oversight of its peacekeeping, which is its largest operation, both in personnel and cost. The UN has more than 100 000 peacekeepers.

The Office of Internal Oversight Services completed 42 investigations of sexual exploitation, abuse involving minors or rape.

In the peacekeeping mission in Haiti, for example, OIOS said it received a report that one or more police officers had sexually exploited a 14-year-old boy. An investigation produced clear evidence, including a handwritten admission by the officer, who was dismissed and sentenced to one year of “rigorous imprisonment,” the report said.

While the officer was punished, OIOS expressed regret “that the sexual exploitation and abuse of the boy had likely occurred over a three-year period but had remained undetected until 2012.”

The report did not specify the outcome of all of the 42 sexual abuse cases.

“Sexual exploitation and abuse remains a significant area of concern, with the greatest number of such offences being committed by uniformed personnel,” there report said.

The office urged stepped up efforts to prevent sexual abuse, saying the continuing allegations “reflect a failure to create and sustain an environment that deters such behaviour.”

Several cases of sexual abuse were also reported in Congo.

Also in that African country, the OIOS said local authorities arrested a staff member transporting sacks of precious minerals on suspicion of mineral trafficking. He was convicted of rebellion, attempted fraud, illegal ownership and transport of minerals, and is currently in prison.

Elsewhere, OIOS said the UN mission in Afghanistan spent about $42 000 to airlift obsolete and damaged equipment from the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif to the capital Kabul from January 2010 to December 2011 when it could have been transported by road for about $1 400.

The UN mission in Iraq overpaid two contractors a total of $632 992, it said, and at the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, a staff member with expired procurement authority approved 87 purchase orders valued at $29.13 million.

In impoverished Liberia, which is emerging from a long civil war, OIOS said the UN peacekeeping mission was unable to account for 70 vehicles “owing to the lack of adequate and effective procedures to safeguard assets.”

It said 20 of 64 closed circuit televisions installed after the theft of four vehicles weren’t operational and data was only stored for a week. It said 12 of 21 heavy vehicles had been in the workshop for over a year, and two others for over three years, because of the lack of spare parts.

OIOS said only two of 25 “quick impact” projects supported by the Liberian mission and designed to provide jobs and spur the economy were completed in the three-month time frame. Thirteen took up to three years to finish, OIOS said.

The OIOS also criticised the UN peace building mission’s management in Sierra Leone, which is trying to rebuild after the end of a civil war in 2002.

The report said the chief procurement officer in Sierra Leone signed off on contracts of $814 834, $1 815 652 and $105 000, even though he only had authority to sign for $50 000. The report did not say what happened to the officer.

The OIOS also said the Sierra Leone mission awarded six contracts without competition to vendors that didn’t meet UN requirements.

When the UN wrapped up its mission in the Central African Republic and Chad, OIOS said $1.1 million worth of equipment and material that was supposed to be shipped to other missions was kept in the port at Douala, Cameroon from July 2011 until July 2012 by the freight contractor.

“As a result, assets depreciated and may have deteriorated in storage if conditions were not optimal,” it said.

Somalia: UN experts on use of mercenaries urge greater oversight for private security contractors


UN News Centre

18 December 2012 – The Government of Somalia must do more to ensure the security of its citizens while increasing regulations on private military and security companies, a United Nations expert panel urged today at the conclusion of its seven-day visit to the Horn of Africa country.

“As Somalia rebuilds its security institutions, the Government should ensure that private security forces are properly regulated and do not become a substitute for competent and accountable police,” said Faiza Patel, who currently heads the UN’s Working Group on the use of mercenaries.

“All Somalis have the right to security, not just those who can afford to pay for it,” she added.

After decades of factional fighting, the East Africa country has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps that have helped bring an end to the country’s nine-year political transition period and the resulting security vacuum which rendered Somalia one of the most lawless States on the planet. These steps included the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, the establishment of a new Parliament and the appointments of a new President and a new Prime Minister.

The Working Group commended the formation of the new Government and its efforts to establish a functioning, peaceful and democratic nation. It noted, however, that the new administration needed to reinforce its control over the private armed security sector through redefined laws and offered its assistance in developing such legislation by drawing on best practices learned from other countries.

“Such laws and their consistent application are critical to guarantee that private security providers operate in a legal, transparent and accountable manner,” Working Group-member Anton Katz stated, adding that the availability of private security should not detract from “the urgent need to provide security for all Somalis.”

In its findings, the Working Group noted that some private security contractors have not always operated transparently in the East African country and, occasionally, veer away from their prescribed goals of providing simple protection from armed factions, bandits and pirates.

Pointing to one instance in the state of Puntland, the UN experts cited incidents involving the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) which was created with the aim to repel the continuing scourge of piracy afflicting the Somali coast.

The Working Group established that the PMPF had engaged in operations unrelated to piracy, including a recent case in which the police force had worked to prevent a candidate for the Puntland presidency from campaigning in Bossaso, the area’s largest city.

Ms. Patel warned that the PMPF was operating outside the legal framework and called on local authorities to integrate the force into “the agreed-upon Somali national security structure and ensure that it is used strictly for the purposes for which it is intended.”

Turning to the issue of piracy – a problem which has long affected international shipping in the heavily trafficked waterways off the coast of Somalia – the UN experts said they were satisfied that piracy had decreased over the past year, although they expressed concern at the continuing use of armed guards aboard vessels.

Ms. Patel called upon the international community to reach an agreement on regulations and procedures regarding the use of armed personnel in the shipping industry, cautioning that a failure to do so created risks for human rights violations at sea.

At the same time, the Working Group also examined the use of private contractors by the UN as well as the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and welcomed efforts to ensure that the security providers had a clean human rights record and maintained the “gold standard” when it came to human rights issues.

In addition to Ms. Patel of Pakistan, the working group is currently composed of Patricia Arias of Chile, Elzbieta Karska of Poland, Anton Katz of South Africa, and Gabor Rona of the United States and Hungary. Reporting to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, they are independent from any government or organization, and serve in their individual capacities.

Nigeria : The great $6.8bn oil scandal


The revelation of gargantuan levels of corruption in the government’s fuel subsidy programme is sparking a groundswell of activity among the opposition and civil society groups.
Opposition politicians, civic activists and trade unionists are joining forces this month to demand action against grand corruption at the heart of government. They promise it will be their biggest show of strength on Nigeria’s streets since protests in January that forced the government to back down on its plans to abolish the fuel subsidy scheme.
At the core of the opposition protests in June will be the findings of a parliamentary report released on 23 April that reveals the government presided over the loss of $6.8bn from its fuel subsidy programme from 2009-2011 through theft and mismanagement.
The government misread public feeling on the fuel subsidy,” says Tunji Lardner, executive director of Lagos-based information platform WANGONeT. “Hundreds of  thousands of small businesses and millions of jobs were set up the basis of the subsidy – protecting that and prosecuting corruptionis a popular cause,” he explains.
Adding to the opposition’s anger are allegations that more than N4.5bn ($28m) has been stolen from pension funds administered by the office of the head of the civil service. State investigators suspect the extent of pension fraud in the country is far larger.
This, together with the government’s announcement expected on 1 June that it will increase electricity tariffs by 50%, will ignite a new round of popular outrage, say activists. A government commissioned report on corruption in the oil export sector, coordinated by former anti-corruption czar Nuhu Ribadu, is also due out in the coming weeks. Insiders say it will make more explosive revelations. National secretary of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties Osita Okechukwu says: “It’s a perfect storm for the government.Weare taking them to the High Court for breaching the constitution, but you will also see protests backed by opposition parties and the trade unions.” Read more.

Somalia: Saracen International bolts out of Puntland region


Somalian Press

Opinion

by M.A. Egge

The infamous dealers in fatal services, Saracen International, have finally bolted out of Puntland following the sudden assassination of one of their senior commando tutors.

The mercenary company that is believed to be on offspring of Executive Outcomes came into public limelight a couple of years ago when the TFG in Mogadishu were reported to have solicited for their services.

Soon after public international outcries for the Sharif government to quash their contract, the Puntland administration kindled an over better contract with the trainers of killing machines.
Since the public international outcry became public, the Majeertenia were pressured to cease the Saracen engagements.

Ironically, despite the fact that Puntland announced the revocation of Saracen contracts and that they were chucked out of their territory, do now real facts emerge that all along, the dogs of war were home in business!

It is not clear if the security company left the country with the horde of weaponry and other killing appliances they had earlier flown into Puntland.

The hurried bolting was in a hush as they flew out of Bandarqasim airfield in Bossasso on a chartered flight to Djibouti.
It is not clear whether they were on a technical brief sojourne in Djibouti as an expression of disgust in the killing of their personnel or whether it was for real calling it byes.
The South African security trainer is said to have been killed by his bodyguard in Somalia’s semiautonomous region of Puntland, officials said Saturday.

Puntland’s government said in a statement Saturday that it had launched an investigation into Friday’s killing. The statement identified the man as Lodewyk Pietersen, and said he worked for Saracen International, a security firm that trains anti-piracy forces in Puntland. The statement said the South African was 55 and married with children.

South African foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said Saturday no official word has been received from consular staff handling South African interests in Somalia.
“We have not yet been alerted to such an incident,” he said.
The statement said the trainer was killed while accompanying Puntland’s maritime forces on a government-approved mission targeting pirates near Hul-Anod, a coastal area favored by pirates who use it as a base to hijack ships for ransom.

Pietersen was shot dead by his Somali bodyguard after an argument, according to a Puntland official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the matter. The official said Puntland’s security forces were hunting for the killer.
Somalia’s prime minister recently said that al-Qaida-linked militants were fleeing to mountainous hideouts in Puntland after facing increasing military pressure around Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

Somalia, which has not had a functioning central government for more than two decades, is one of the most dangerous places for foreigners to work.

Related articles

Private firm flouts UN embargo in Somalia


IOL News

By Ivor Powell

February 26, 2012

Eight months after SA-linked private military company Saracen International was fingered in a UN Security Council as the “most egregious threat” to peace and security in the failed state of Somalia, Saracen continues to run and train a private army in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Saracen, one of a cluster of shadowy private military contractors born from the ashes of the SA/British mercenary outfit Executive Outcomes, after nearly 18 months of military activity in the region, has yet to secure permission to operate as a security provider in a region so volatile Somalia has not had a functioning central government for upwards of 20 years.

Tlali Tlali, the spokesman for the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, confirmed that neither the SA arm of the Saracen operation, nor any of the individuals associated with the Somali adventure had applied for accreditation as legitimate security contractors.

UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) co-ordinator Matthew Bryden confirmed the company had failed to seek or secure authorisation from the international authority to operate as a private military contractor in Somalia after being fingered in the Monitoring Group’s June 2011 report.

We understand that the UN is in possession of compelling evidence that Saracen has continued with military training and deployment in defiance of the UN’s general arms embargo. The continuing violations of UN Resolutions 1973 and 1976 are expected to be addressed in detail in the SEMG’s forthcoming annual report at midyear.

Saracen’s operation in Somalia is headed by Executive Outcomes stalwart and – until the mercenary outfit was disbanded – holding company director, Lafras Luitingh. Luitingh is also a director of Australian African Global Investments (AAGI) the company primarily involved in logistical supply and procurement for the operation…Read more.

How Corruption may Hamper Peacebuilding – the Case of South Sudan


ISS

By Shireen Mukadam, researcher

Governance and corruption division, ISS Cape Town

February 9, 2012

On January 16th South Sudan’s Parliament met to discuss the Auditor General’s announcement that $1.3 billion was unaccounted for during the 2005-2006 budget period of the then Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan under the transitional government. This comes in the midst of a flurry of anti-corruption initiatives sweeping the country in the past few months. In November last year, President Salva Kiir appointed senior judge Justice John Gatwhich Lul as chair of the national Anti-Corruption Commission. Established in 2006 and viewed by many as toothless, this body gained prosecutory powers through the 2011 Transitional Constitution. These events raise important questions about the nexus between corruption and peacebuilding. What have we learnt from African post- conflict states about how corruption affects peacebuilding efforts?

The nexus between corruption and peacebuilding is characterised by the tension between the short and long-term impacts of corruption. Some functionalists argue that certain forms of ‘illegal’ channelling of state funds may have positive consequences in the aftermath of conflict. In the short term some would argue that  this could help bring about stability, by sustaining networks of patronage and ‘buying’ spoilers to participate in the peace process. Both the need and opportunity for corrupt practices can increase following conflict, arguably as the case of Burundi shows. Certain financial ‘rewards’ also have the potential to play an incentivising role in peace negotiations. However, the difficulty in embracing this rationale arises when one considers the longer-term implications of these kinds of practices. Is stability and peace sought after, at any cost?…While this article has only scratched the surface of the corruption-peacebuilding nexus, it sheds light on the need to pay more attention to how the synergy between the anti-corruption and peacebuilding discourses can contribute towards preventing corruption, thereby enabling sustainable peace in post- conflict countries. A good start would be to consider a corruption-sensitive approach to peacebuilding…Read more.

Senegal: Contested Presidential Polls and Contract Risks If the Opposition Wins


AllAfrica.com

BY EXCLUSIVE ANALYSIS

January 27, 2012 27

ANALYSIS

On 26 February, presidential elections are due in which President Abdoulaye Wade will run for a third term, if the Constitutional Court rules Wade’s candidacy is legal, which is likely.

Wade will be able to mobilise rural support, but he is unlikely to win the endorsement of all the influential Sufi brotherhoods. He also faces growing unpopularity, particularly amongst youths and in urban areas, due to the rising cost of living and economic mismanagement. The elections are likely to go to a run-off, increasing chances of an opposition win. This would heighten contract risks in important sectors for foreign investors like construction, transport and tourism.

Divisions within the opposition and the lack of a nationwide base for most of the candidates will limit their chances of a win in the first round. However, the growing importance of the urban vote and a very likely rallying behind the leading opposition candidate after the first round – expected to be Moustapha Niasse, Macky Sall, Idrissa Seck or Tanor Diang – would increase their chances in the second round.

Popular singer Youssou N’dour, who announced his candidacy on 2 January, is unlikely to win political support among the elite but is popular amongst the youth, making him a possible kingmaker for the opposition in the second round.

An opposition victory would increase risks of corruption investigations and contract cancellations targeting major infrastructure contracts pursued by Wade and his son, powerful Transport and Infrastructure Minister Karim Wade. These include the new airport in Dakar or Dubai Ports World‘s contract for Dakar Port’s development.

Tourist resorts owned by consortiums in which Karim Wade is involved would also be at risk. Revisions would be likely to contracts recently signed by the Wade government, including the awarding of two oil exploration licences to African Petroleum in late November 2011. While contract and regulatory risks would be lower under another Wade term, he would most likely promote populist policies like increasing subsidies and revising contracts in the ailing power sector.

Protest risks will be high during these closely-contested elections, especially in the event of voting fraud allegations, further arrests of opposition leaders and Wade’s re-election. Risks will be highest in Dakar, Thies, Thivaouane and Kaolack.

Protests could escalate into riots, which would pose high risks of damage to government buildings, public transport and public utilities assets. Fighting between opposition and ruling party supporters will also pose moderate risks to individuals. On 22 December, a Wade supporter was shot dead in fighting between youths outside the Mermoz-Sacre Coeur city council.

Exclusive Analysis is a specialist intelligence company that forecasts commercially relevant political and violent risks worldwide.

Nigeria: Ogoni Leader Welcomes U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Shell Case


Voice of America

James Butty

October 18, 2011

The president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People [MOSOP] said his group welcomes the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a dispute between the Ogoni people and Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company.

The high court justices agreed Monday to hear a federal appeal by a group of Nigerians who alleged that shell was complicit in torture, wrongful deaths and other human rights abuses committed by Nigerian authorities against environmental campaigners during the 1990s.

MOSOP President Ledum Mitee said the decision sends the right message that Shell must be held to account.

“It is quite a refreshing news coming at this time, and I think it sends the right message that clearly, even though there have been delays in getting there, but at least we can see light at the end of the tunnel that someday Shell will be held to account,” he said…Read more.

Somalia: Armed guards to be allowed on ships


US Navy 071202-N-3764J-003 Merchant vessel Al ...
Image via Wikipedia

Thursday 21st July 2011

By Keith Hamilton

Shipping & Heritage Reporter

THE threat from pirates to British shipping is so great that UK-flagged vessels – including many that visit Southampton – will soon be able to employ armed guards as they navigate dangerous waters.

Shipping minister Mike Penning has indicated the Government is about to introduce new legislation which will change the present law and give the legal go-ahead for ships flying the red ensign to recruit armed guards…“Legislation will have to be changed to protect our seafarers around the world,’’ said the minister. “At present it is illegal to use armed guards on British ships, but we are where we are and I cannot ignore the situation.’’ The government believes the new regulations will regulate and control the recruitment of armed guards, and will stop any “cowboys’’ being allowed on board British ships.

Despite a naval task force patrolling near the Horn of Africa, Somali pirates have taken 361 sailors captive in the first six months of this year…Read more.

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