Search

Africa's Public Procurement & Entrepreneurship Research Initiative – APPERI

Tag

Iraq

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.

Bill to Stop Modern Day Slavery under Government Contracts


ACLU

By Devon Chaffee

July 12, 2012

Last month the ACLU released a joint report with Yale Law SchoolVictims of Complacency, that documents the ongoing trafficking, forced labor and abuse of foreign workers hired through U.S. government contracts to work in support of U.S. military and diplomatic missions abroad. Recruited from impoverished villages in countries such as India, Nepal and the Philippines, these men and women – known as Third Country Nationals – are charged exorbitant recruitment fees, lied to about what country they will be taken to and how much they will be paid, and often have no choice but to live and work in unacceptable and unsafe conditions.  These abuses amount to modern day slavery; all on the U.S. tax payers’ dime. Now members of Congress want to act to ensure that federal funds are no longer facilitating such exploitative, abusive and illegal practices.

To help put an end to this trafficking and forced labor under contracts funded by the federal government, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D- CT) and Representative James Lankford (R-OK)) have introduced the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012. The bill has strong bi-partisan support in both the House and the Senate. This means that even during an election year with heightened partisan tensions in Congress, the bill is one of a handful of measures that has a good chance of becoming law. Recently, the Republican-controlled House adopted the provision—without opposition—as an amendment to a larger defense authorization bill.

The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012 will significantly increase oversight and accountability for employee recruitment under U.S. government contracts preformed abroad.  Currently many large U.S.-based government contractors refuse to take responsibility for the recruitment policies of their subcontractors that hire recruiters which in turn use fraudulent and illegal hiring practices to increase their profits. The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012 works to address this issue by requiring all U.S. government contractors performing a substantial amount of their contract overseas to ensure that their subcontractors and the recruitment agencies they use comply with U.S. anti-trafficking laws, policies and practices. The bill also increases accountability by increasing reporting requirements and extending criminal prohibitions against fraudulent labor practices, including trafficking and forced labor, to contractors and subcontractors working overseas.

The Obama administration has long had a “zero tolerance” policy against human trafficking based on U.S. government contracts, but to date that policy has not been effectively implemented.  As documented in “Victims of Complacency” and numerous other government and non-governmental reports, hundreds of men and women have been trafficked on to U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan where they have been subjected to forced labor and other abusive treatment by U.S. government contractors and sub-contractors.  Yet, our government has failed to fully investigate these allegations; nor has it prosecuted or taken administrative action against a single contractor for involvement in such abuses. The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012 is an important step towards making “zero tolerance” a reality, and to bringing an end to an unacceptable chain of profits based on trafficking, forced labor and taxpayer dollars.

US: Judge Allows Rumsfeld Torture Suit to Proceed


Global Policy Forum

By Stephen C. Wester

The Raw Story

August 4th, 2011

A US District Court has allowed a lawsuit by a former US contractor against ex- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield. The contractor alleges that he was imprisoned unjustly and tortured by the US military in Iraq. Though a number of similar cases have been filed against Rumsfield, many have been rejected on “claims of immunity.” The Justice Department has argued that Rumsfield cannot be sued personally for conduct in his capacity as Secretary of Defense, and that judges cannot review Presidential or Congressional wartime decisions. However, US District Judge James Gwin rejected these arguments, stating that US citizens are protected by the constitution at home and abroad. This judgment comes as a stark reminder to the US that its own officials cannot escape accountability for breaches of human rights.

A lawsuit against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, filed by an unnamed U.S. contractor who claims he was tortured by the military, will proceed to trial.

The decision made this week by U.S. District Judge James Gwin is especially important to civil liberties advocates, who’ve seen a number of torture suits against former U.S. officials shot down by claims of immunity.

In this case, originally filed in 2008, Judge Gwin considered a similar argument from the Obama administration: that a former official cannot be sued for their actions in any official capacity.

However, since the plaintiff in the matter is a U.S. citizen whose constitutional rights were allegedly trampled upon — and because Rumsfeld allegedly approved each individual harsh interrogation — the suit is being allowed to proceed.

The man, whose identity was withheld, is a translator in his 50s who helped U.S. Marines communicate with Iraqis. He claims he was abducted by U.S. military personnel in 2005 as he was due to return home from Iraq. Over the course of nine months he was allegedly beaten and interrogated about providing classified information to coalition enemies, then was released without explanation. He was never charged with a crime…Read more.

UN Seeks Controls on Private Armies


IPS

July 12, 2011

By Sunaina Perera

The UN Working Group on Mercenaries has urged the international community to regulate private military security contractors (PMSCs).  A draft resolution has already been submitted to the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council. However, countries that heavily use PMSCs (predominately in the West) are reticent to pass a legally binding resolution. PMSCs have perpetrated armed and sexual violence with impunity. Thus, the lack of accountability mechanisms between PMSCs and governments are disconcerting and urgent action is necessary to ensure that PMSCs are adequately regulated.

With U.S. and Western military forces planning to gradually withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, there will be an increasing demand for private military contractors to provide security in both politically-troubled countries.

As a result, the number of military contractors is set to reach 5,500 in Iraq alone, according to a U.N. Working Group on Mercenaries, prompting demands for a specific international instrument to regulate their activities.

The members of the Working Group have stressed the importance of establishing international guidelines and legislation when dealing with Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs)…Read more.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: