Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon everybody.
**Democratic Republic of Congo
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a 550-page report today, listing 617 of the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law over a 10-year period by both State and non-State actors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The report also examines in detail various options for truth and reconciliation, as well as for bringing those responsible for serious crimes to justice, thereby ending a climate of near-total impunity in the country.
High Commissioner Navi Pillay says that the report “provides the most extensive account to date of the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 1993 and 2003”. She says the report reveals the suffering that years of instability and conflict have inflicted on the country. We have her statement and a press release on the report in my Office.
A helicopter contracted by the World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver food assistance in flood-affected areas of Pakistan had to make a forced landing today in southern Sindh Province.
At the time of the incident, there were 12 people on board the helicopter, including WFP staff members, and all of them have survived — although some were injured. The rescue-and-recovery operation at the site of the incident is almost concluded. The Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan has been informed, and investigations into the incident will be conducted accordingly. We have a press release on the matter as well as an update from the World Food Programme, which notes that in the month of September, the agency provided food rations for more than 6 million people. To date, more than 1 million infants and young children have been provided with high-energy biscuits and specialized nutritional foods.
Uganda has assumed the rotating Security Council presidency for the month of October. Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda, the Council President for this month, intends to brief you on the Council’s programme of work next Monday at 12:30 pm.
I am happy to take questions. Barbara, yes.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Just a question about the Congo report. We have been hearing from various sources that one of the reasons that President [Paul] Kagame backed off on his threat to pull peacekeepers out of UN missions was because there was a sort of trade off that the UN would not then immediately push for judicial steps to follow up the report. Has there been a trade off?
Spokesperson: There is no linkage, no quid pro quo, and any follow-up would be on its merits. This is quite clear.
Question: And so do you expect the Secretary-General to actively press then for judicial steps to follow up the report?
Spokesperson: What has happened today is something that many people, not least those people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have been waiting for. And that is the release of the Mapping Report. What is the Mapping Report about? It is obviously — you know, you have three key elements — it is about assessing what happened on the ground during that 10-year period. It’s about looking at the capacity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to deal with the various aspects of justice. And it is also, thirdly, to provide some ideas, some options for what the Democratic Republic of the Congo — and ultimately this is about the Democratic Republic of the Congo — can do to address questions of transitional justice. And what does that mean? Transitional justice means being able to take account of what happened in the past; that means justice for victims. It means putting in place a justice system that can ensure that there is an end to the cycle of impunity. And importantly, it’s to ensure that such things don’t happen in the future.
Question: And the Congolese Ambassador has released a statement in which he said that Congo wanted to pursue this in a judicial manner, and was quite keen for outside help. I mean, do you expect the Secretary-General to be actively engaged and to press for that sort of help and accountability as active as he was in trying to make sure all the countries stayed on board with the report?
Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General has discussed this over a period of time, and most recently during the General Assembly period when, as you know there were various bilateral meetings. He has discussed this because he takes it very seriously. This is a report that has been published by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and obviously we need to see how this takes shape, what the Democratic Republic of the Congo suggests. The High Commissioner has made very clear that her Office is available to support the efforts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in their efforts to institute proper transitional justice.
Question: If I may, can I just ask one final? Sorry.
Spokesperson: By all means.
Question: What is the next step then, in terms of what happens to the report and what the Secretary-General does in particular? He’s been given a copy of it by the Human Rights Council, I mean, is he expected to take some action or is that a resolution in the Human Rights Council? What’s next?
Spokesperson: The Secretary-General has received the report. He has the report. The countries concerned have the report. Some of the countries, as you will have seen — four of them so far — countries that are mentioned in the report have submitted their own comments that are there alongside the report on the Office for the High Commissioner’s website. You can find them there. This was about providing some concrete ways, if you’re talking about the future, how do we take this forward? It was about providing ways for the Democratic Republic of the Congo to address the question, the problem, the unresolved problem, of impunity. And that there have been, as you will find in reading the report, a number of suggestions, options that the Democratic Republic of the Congo may wish to consider. And as I have said, the High Commissioner’s Office is there to provide assistance, should that be requested. Khaled.
Question: Yes, sir. [inaudible] to follow up about this question, [inaudible] the fact that the report is very specific that there were very serious crimes committed; they speak about hundreds of thousands, if not millions, killed. I mean, sexual violence, the killing of children and women. I mean, the Secretary-General does not feel he needs to take immediate action in calling for some task force to be formed to stop…? I mean, take practical steps to put the serious crimes into accountability, not just to wait for reactions from [inaudible]?
Spokesperson: Well, let’s be clear about what it is and what it isn’t. This was a mapping exercise, which means that it was setting out to pull together available information, and it was not supposed to be a judicial investigation. It wasn’t meant to be one in the first place, and it doesn’t pretend to be something that it is not. And what it is is a preliminary exercise. And as I have said, the idea was, with this report, to help to break the cycle of impunity. The next step clearly is for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has received the report, of course, to be able to study it and to look at the options. It may have other options in mind too. But to be able to draw on what is in the report to help them. That’s what it’s about. It’s about helping them to fight impunity and avoid perpetuation of this cycle of violence which we have seen even in the past month.
Question: [inaudible] the fact that the report of Mrs. Pillay itself, it says that they have specific names which they keep classified. So there is obviously some very solid evidence of specific incidents, and the Secretary-General does not think that this requires immediate judicial action against those individuals or army units involved in certain atrocities?
Spokesperson: Well, look, as I have said, this is not a judicial investigation. It’s not trying to establish individual criminal responsibility. That’s not what it was setting out to do. It was not. That was not the job that the people who compiled the report were given to do. The aim was to gather basic information on incidents in that 10-year period. And so this was not about providing evidence that is admissible in court. That’s not what it was about. And it was not about establishing individual criminal responsibility. What it has done, as you point out, is to provide a catalogue of extremely serious violations of human rights, and as you said, with, and as the Human Rights Commissioner herself has said — many thousands of people killed or mutilated, raped — a very serious catalogue. But it is not a judicial investigation. Yes, Masood.
Question: On this situation, ongoing situation in Pakistan, where NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] soldiers killed three Pakistani soldiers and then, as a consequence a convoy was burned and the situation seems to be escalating. Does the Secretary-General have anything to say about that at all?
Spokesperson: He is aware of this, but we don’t have any comment on that.
Question: Just another thing that I wondered that you said about the World Food Programme; that helicopter was downed and 6 million people have been fed. As far as that is concerned, I mean, the helicopters and so forth are enough with WFP for now, or where does it stand now?
Spokesperson: Well, we’ve repeatedly said that we welcome the assistance that is being provided but we could use more — particularly with helicopters because, as you know, this is a primary way, if not the main way, to be able to get the aid to people in areas that either remain cut off or are very difficult to reach in other ways. This incident, as I said, there were 12 people on board. It would appear that some of them were injured; others were not. And the extent of their injuries we’re trying to establish.
Question: [inaudible] like by some group or it’s mechanical failure?
Spokesperson: Look, we have no reason to believe this was anything other than some kind of mechanical problem. But obviously there is an investigation that has already begun. People are already looking into what happened. But the most important thing at the moment was to ensure that we could have the injured crew and passengers treated. And that’s been taken care of. Obviously the Pakistan authorities and UN authorities will be looking into investigating the incident in a thorough way. Yes, Masood.
Question: Is that the only incident that is being reported by the — or have there been other incidents, such incidents in Pakistan?
Spokesperson: Well, since the floods, during this crisis, to my knowledge this is the only one. If there are others then I would stand corrected, based on anything that my colleagues in the Department of Safety and Security could tell me. But to the best of my knowledge this is the only time there has been an incident of this kind. Yes.
Question: [inaudible] for forced landing in Sindh province for the flying party. Is it a chartered commercial flight or is it an air force or, I mean, who is the flying party?
Spokesperson: Say, who, what, sorry?
Question: I mean, is it a commercial airline that has been chartered to the UN service, or is it air force of a country or…?
Spokesperson: All I know is that it was a helicopter contracted by the United Nations World Food Programme and with five Russian crew members. I don’t know — I am just having a look here to see if I have any further information on where it’s from. I don’t. But as you know, the UN charters, it receives helicopters in different ways. It charters them; it has them under contract, provided by national Governments. So, I don’t have a clear answer on that. But I am sure we could find out.
Question: Do you know the model of this aircraft?
Spokesperson: Say again?
Question: We don’t have the model of this aircraft? Like [inaudible], I mean…
Spokesperson: Look, I don’t have any details here. I am sure that we can find out. I don’t have any details here on the type of aircraft. But what I can tell you is that the people who were injured were treated — it may be of interest to you — at a Chinese military hospital. Okay. Yes, Barbara.
Question: Sorry, just one more question about Congo.
Question: What is the UN’s role in turning this Mapping Report into an accountability process? Because if the next step is in Congo, we all know that the judicial system there is not capable of dealing with these kinds of trials or whatever.
Spokesperson: That’s the whole point, that’s the whole point, that hitherto there has been a cycle of impunity. The whole point is to try to break that and to assist. And the Democratic Republic of the Congo is keen to do that itself. The mapping exercise, one of the three points that I mentioned was precisely to be able to do that — to provide a series of options to assist the Government and ultimately it’s for the Government and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to face up to the past and to deal with it so that they can then have a more secure and stable future.
Question: So the idea would be for Congo to look at the options and then come back to the UN and say we would like to set up a joint tribunal, for example, [inaudible]?
Spokesperson: Take a look at the report where…
Correspondent: No, I know there are options listed.
Spokesperson: Well, there you are then. That’s…
Question: But my question is… So…
Spokesperson: Well you can ask the Democratic Republic of the Congo what they plan to do next, providing them…
Question: No, I am not asking what they plan to do next, I am asking about the process. So, it’s, the ball is in Congo’s court now? Is then the next step if they need to set up some kind of joint tribunal they would, or what if they need outside help they would come back to the UN and the UN would assist them? Is that the UN’s role?
Spokesperson: The idea is for the Government and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to look at the report and options that are there. It’s for them to decide; the Government to decide what to make of it and then how they then approach it, that’s with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. If the Government comes back to the Office of the High Commissioner, I think that they would be knocking on an open door. They have said, the High Commissioner’s Office has said, that that they stand ready to assist. This is about justice for the past; it’s about coming to terms with this awful period of human suffering. And although you can’t undo what happened in the past, you can’t undo human rights violations, you can try to ensure that they don’t recur in the future. Louis, and then Matthew.
Question: This is just to follow up on this issue. If I understand correctly, the Secretariat is not going to be dealing with, you know, whatever might come up. It’s going to be between the Human Rights, or the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, right?
Spokesperson: Well, this is about the United Nations and the division of labour. There is a clear body of expertise in Geneva, in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. That seems like a logical place for there to be an exchange of information with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That does not mean that the Secretariat is not involved or interested, absolutely not. But it’s a logical division of labour.
Question: And it would also be logical, since the Democratic Republic of the Congo is on the Security Council’s agenda, perhaps for the Secretary-General to transmit it to the Security Council for them to potentially consider it. Is that…?
Spokesperson: As you can see, it is in the pubic domain, Louis. It’s in the public domain.
Correspondent: You know how these things work, even though everybody has it, it has to be formally handed over to certain bodies.
Spokesperson: Well it’s in the public domain. It’s in the public domain. Matthew.
Question: Sure. I want to ask…?
Question: Hold on, can I just… so he won’t be [inaudible]?
Spokesperson: That’s not what I said, Louis. That’s not what I said. I said it’s in the public domain.
Question: I know; then you are saying if they want it they can go get it or look it up on the web?
Spokesperson: No. I said what I said. Matthew.
Question: Sure, I have some questions about the Mapping Report and Sudan and Sri Lanka. On the Mapping Report, there are changes between the earlier version and this version. Although the word genocide is [inaudible]
Spokesperson: Not version, draft.
Question: Okay, between the draft and the final. And many of the changes seem to be designed to make the document less legally significant; i.e., there is a change between damning elements to inculpability elements. There is an elimination of a section about, you know, there is elimination of a section that sort of rebutted what would have been questions raised, you know, raised about the report, and it added in a number of countervailing factors. These are all changes that have been noted between the final and the draft. So, I guess my question on that is, despite the word still being there, I mean, who was made aware of these changes before it became final, since nearly all of them seem to go in the direction of making it a less sort of legally probative or strong document in terms later being presented to the [inaudible]?
Spokesperson: I think you got it the wrong way around, Matthew. I think you got it round the wrong way.
Question: Has it become stronger?
Spokesperson: What I am trying to tell you, Matthew — I mean if you have the answers to my questions, then there is no point asking me in the first place.
Question: I would have [inaudible] to ask them in the first round when you were asked about this. I think you should have said, like, any more questions on this [inaudible].
Spokesperson: I am here for the duration. I can take questions on any topic at any time, Matthew, unless you want to draw lots when you ask the question. There are a couple of things here. The first is that it was a draft that was leaked. It was not complete. It was a draft. Any report, not just this report, goes through a rigorous process before it is published. Part of that process involves legal scrutiny. That legal scrutiny took place and the language that you see in the final report reflects that careful legal scrutiny so that the report is fit and ready to be published. The draft version was precisely that you refer to was a draft; it was leaked; it was not finalized.
Question: The lawyers that reviewed it are all Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights lawyers. There was no involvement by the Secretariat or OLA [Office of Legal Affair]; I am just wondering who was involved in [inaudible]?
Spokesperson: As I say, as I answered to Louis, it’s about the United Nations. There are legal experts, and I can tell you, at the Office of the High Commissioner, there are legal experts who scrutinized this extremely carefully. And that’s why you now have this report in its entirety on 1 October.
Question: Yeah, but is saying that there are legal experts with the High Commissioner of Human Rights to say that Secretariat lawyers weren’t involved, because the Secretariat is the one negotiating with Kagame and in charge of peacekeeping [inaudible]…
Spokesperson: No, there is no negotiating. Matthew, there is no negotiating on the text of this report. There is no cause and effect. That needs to be very clear. This report went through normal channels prior to being published, and has now been published.
Question: I just wanted, this is a simple factual question: were the Secretariat, OLA or Secretariat people involved in this last, the review between the draft and the final? Just a straight, factual question.
Spokesperson: I don’t need to slice up the involvement for who was, which lawyers were involved and which were not. I can find out. But I think, as I said earlier, there is a division of labour here that makes perfect sense. That there are people who have an understanding of this specific topic who are working in the Office of the High Commissioner. I think that’s the main point.
Question: I want to ask you on Sudan?
Spokesperson: Yeah, sure.
Question: In light of those… go ahead.
Spokesperson: Yes, please. Yes, picking up your train of thought, yes.
Question: Okay, just to clarify, maybe I missed something, but the statement in your office is from the High Commissioner, and the SG hasn’t really made a statement. Does he welcome the publication of the report?
Spokesperson: The Secretary-General has received the report and he concurs with the statement that the High Commissioner has issued today. Does that do it?
Question: I would just, I am following up also, in Darfur, for example, when you have serious charges about genocide being committed, I mean the issue is referred to the ICC and there, I mean, so why isn’t the Secretary-General calling for a process such as this for crimes that are no less serious than other crimes committed [inaudible]…?
Spokesperson: As we’ve said, as we’ve said, this is…
Question: I mean, it’s rather strange tht the Secretary-General doesn’t, like, have his own statement and just concurs with that of the High Commissioner.
Spokesperson: Not at all. Not at all. Absolutely not. It’s very straight forward. This report has been issued by the Office High Commissioner for Human Rights. There is a statement by the High Commissioner. The Secretary-General has the report. He concurs with the statement that she has issued. He also understands the nature of the report; and that is that it is a mapping report, it is a preliminary exercise. It is not a judicial investigation. That it is not establishing individual criminal responsibility. The best thing, if you haven’t done so, is to read it, and you will see the nature of the exercise that was undertaken, and the result is right here for you to read. Anything else on this topic?
Spokesperson: Okay, separate.
Question: Okay. I just wanted to ask – maybe it’s too quick to answer this question — because there is a report this morning that the United States introduced gonorrhoea and syphilis in Guatemala as part of an experiment.
Spokesperson: I didn’t really understand the first part of your question, Masood. Could you repeat it?
Question: The United States — this is a report from CNN and other people — there is a report that the United States deliberately introduced gonorrhoea and syphilis in Guatemala as part of an ongoing experiment. Does the Secretary-General have anything to say about that?
Spokesperson: I don’t think so, Masood. Right, okay. Matthew.
Question: Sure. I wanted to ask you about — in light of those documents that emerged of Mr. Gambari preparing a letter and terms of, and additional terms to Ali Karti of Sudan — there has been a statement by Abdul Wahid Mohamed al Nur saying that if UNAMID agreed to the hand-over, its task in Darfur will be finished and will have turned into an enemy and participate in the genocide with the National Congress Party and will bring about an end to any cooperation between the Abdul Wahid Mohamed al-Nur faction and UNAMID. So I am just wondering what is, is the UN and UNAMID aware of this statement, and what do they make of it? Do they intend to go forward with its handover or do they not take it seriously?
Spokesperson: Well, I would refer you to what I said, I think it was earlier this week that this, as we’ve said, also not just earlier this week, as we’ve, said this is a topic that has been the subject of intense discussions and those discussions continue and they are confidential. And I don’t have anything further to say on it.
Question: From those documents, things seem pretty close. I think that’s what they are, the, the…
Spokesperson: Well, Matthew, as I said, this is something that is confidential and continues. It’s important that it’s done in that way.
Question: But it doesn’t have, you don’t agree I would assume that if they turn them over it would mean that UNAMID is somehow complicit in genocide in Darfur. I guess I just want a response to this comment.
Spokesperson: I mean, I answer all kinds of questions, Matthew, but not hypothetical ones. Right, yeah, any other ones? Yes, Richard.
Question: I just find it always fascinating that everyone always says read the report, which has been said in this building for 20 years. With such a major report expected and you know, the controversy over leaks and everything, why would the UN system — I know it’s always segmented, definitely — why would Navi Pillay only answer questions to some UNTV camera with questionable audio, and not hold a press conference in Geneva or here, or have someone from Human Rights? Because we live in a mass media world, no one can just say read the report. Why are these cameras here? Why are we wasting time with this then when it’s a major report? So…
Question: Why would the UN, which always wonders why people consider it either irrelevant or not in the news, why would the United Nations system and the communications department and everything, not, with weeks of notice, have people to answer this significant finding and just to elaborate and to illuminate…?
Spokesperson: Well, there are people to answer your questions — I apologize if my answers are inadequate, Richard.
Question: [inaudible] part of, it’s the UN, why do they throw it on you, when…?
Spokesperson: Well, give them a call, give them a call. This is not thrown on me as…
Question: Well, we’ve interviewed someone, but just in terms of the whole system, why [inaudible]…?
Spokesperson: You interviewed someone then? So, you’re undermining your own argument then.
Correspondent: Well, but that person was not very… ready to go into major, would not name specific acts of what happened; would not even describe the violence.
Spokesperson: Well, Richard, obviously you weren’t listening to what I said, and possibly what…
Correspondent: No, I heard some of. I heard you say read the report.
Spokesperson: Well, okay. I did say some other things. But if that’s the bit that sticks, then well, so be it. I said that this report does not attempt, did not set out to establish individual criminal responsibility, and therefore it’s not going to, name individuals. It does talk about groups. But it doesn’t talk about individuals. And that is very clear in the report — whether you read it or not, I am telling you, it’s very clear. And it’s also very clear that it’s supposed to be helping the Democratic Republic of the Congo to overcome this cycle of impunity. And also, give them a call.
Correspondent: I know, (a), it’s not about you, which you may think it is. But it’s not.
Spokesperson: I am not talking about whether it’s about me or not.
Question: …(b), I have heard you say those things before, but (c), why would the UN Secretary-General who failed to come to the microphone the day of the mass rape allegations and only say something in the Security Council 48 hours later? On news stories, why does he not want to appear on this climactic day involving many countries and find things that happened even before he was even Secretary-General?
Spokesperson: It’s very simple. There are three things here: Firstly, this is a report that was put together by the Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights. It’s been issued by them. And the High Commissioner has issued a statement. People in her Office, in her team, have been available to answer questions on camera. I have seen it on the BBC — I haven’t been watching CNN, sorry — and it’s available. People are available to speak. The second thing is that unless — maybe you also weren’t watching at the time — but the Secretary-General went to Kigali because he understood how seriously Rwanda took this report, the draft that had been leaked. He went there so that he could hear their concerns. He came back. The first thing he did after having a meeting with Senator Mitchell on his return from Kigali was to go to the stakeout to answer questions. If you weren’t there, that’s your lookout.
Correspondent: But that’s not the thing I’m talking about. I’m talking about the day of; that’s days, weeks after. We’re talking of the day of…
Spokesperson: The day of what?
Correspondent: The day of this when the Congo mass rapes story broke.
Spokesperson: Now we’re talking about this report.
Question: Well, okay. Today is Oct, that’s why we’re on the same point: where is he?
Spokesperson: I’ve told you: this is a report that has been issued by the Office…
Correspondent: I understand that.
Spokesperson: And also what I didn’t tell you and might help you is that he will be having a press conference on 6 October, next week. Tuesday.
Question: Sorry, but you keep on saying the report does not name names. But again, I mean, I refer you to the statement of Mrs. Pillay. She says that they have names, confidential. And she also mentions the name of another Congolese general from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I mean, despite the fact that the Congo Government is saying that we’re ready to prosecute, but they’re saying one of the guys or the generals accused of one of the crimes is now been promoted by the DRC itself. So there are names; there are very specific incidents. So I mean, why do you keep saying there are no names, no judicial responsibility? Obviously the Human Rights Commissioner is ready to provide this information for a court of law if there is a court of law. And if the Secretary-General doesn’t ask or call for a commission to prosecute or [inaudible] responsible for crimes, who is going to?
Spokesperson: There are a number of stages involved in anything of this kind. And the first is that this is a preliminary exercise. It was not intended to be a judicial inquiry. And the second is that, as I pointed out, it looked at the ability or the capacity of the Government now, or the authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to handle this, the justice system and to ensure that justice is done. The third part is that the report offers some suggestions, options for how the Democratic Republic of the Congo could handle this. And there are five options that are suggested. It doesn’t mean that those are the only ones. But there are five options that have been suggested. It’s then for the Democratic Republic of the Congo to look at that and then to decide how best for them to handle it. If they require assistance, the United Nations has said that it is prepared to assist them. Yes, Evelyn.
Question: A follow-up on Barbara’s question?
Spokesperson: Yeah. Which one was that?
Question: Well, on any kind of judicial up follow-up, we know that the DRC has a rather flimsy judicial system. And also that Rwanda, when the court that was established by the Security Council tried to have any Tutsi leader questioned, Kagame said absolutely not. So I don’t see how you are going to get anywhere with even an international judicial procedure.
Spokesperson: Well, we are not going anywhere. We are not going anywhere. It’s for the Democratic Republic of the Congo to take a look at those options and it’s part of a process that they’re involved in themselves. The United Nations and this report is simply trying to help with the process that obviously has not succeeded so far; that otherwise I assume that this would not have been necessary. The whole point is to help them to break this cycle. If people, if there is no justice for the victims of 10 years ago, it’s going to be difficult to ensure that there won’t be a repeat of these kinds of incidents and there won’t be further victims. That’s the whole point.
Question: Can I then follow up with one thing? Today we still have part of the gross human rights violations in the east over resources, regardless of which group or country is involved. Can the international community ever come to grips with this, because otherwise it will go on and on and on. Because that seems to be the basis of the quest for power in the east.
Spokesperson: Well, that also forms an important part of what is happening with this report. It does specifically mention that, what the statement by the High Commissioner says is that “The culture of impunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — which continues today — has encouraged the creation and evolution of armed groups and the use of violence to resolve disputes and gain control over natural resources”. So, clearly…
Question: She says it several times in the report?
Question: What she, she is describing the situation. I am asking how it ever comes to an end?
Spokesperson: Well, again, the…
Correspondent: It is still going on, this happened 10 years ago.
Spokesperson: Well, again, the point of this report is to help. It is not, it cannot be, the answer to all the problems that the Democratic Republic of the Congo faces. It is supposed to help with their efforts in introducing transitional justice, and part of that is obviously dealing with the question of natural resources. That’s a key part of it. Yes, Richard.
Question: [inaudible].. was transitional justice? Why is it transitional?
Spokesperson: Well, the definition is: it is about truth, justice, reparations and reform of key institutions — to fight impunity and avoid perpetuation of the cycle of violence. Richard.
Question: There was a New York Times article that said there was a similar report, unless you already talked about this 1994/95 that was quashed in the UN system, I wonder if you had any official reaction to that? And the second is, you said the news conference is October 6, Tuesday. The 6 October is a Wednesday.
Spokesperson: I beg your pardon, then it’s Wednesday. It’s the sixth. It’s the sixth, yeah. And yes, absolutely, it’s Wednesday. It’s been a long week.
Question: And any comment on the Times report?
Spokesperson: On the Times report, I have seen it. No comment at the moment. If I have something more, I’ll let you know. It might even be an exclusive for CNN. Okay. Khaled.
Question: Just to clarify, you keep, I mean, I went through my notes, you said like many times this is a preliminary report. When is the final report coming out?
Spokesperson: No, that’s not, it didn’t say a preliminary report. Preliminary exercise.
Correspondent: Preliminary exercise. I thought you meant like preliminary report, which means it’s not a final report.
Spokesperson: It’s a preliminary exercise, which means gathering basic information. It was not an in-depth investigation. It was not about providing evidence that is admissible in court. And it was not about establishing individual responsibility. Preliminary exercise is what I said. And it is a mapping report. This is the final report. But it is a preliminary exercise. It means it is not saying here we are, in a court of law, this is all you need. That’s not what it is. Yes, Matthew.
Question: Sure, I wanted to ask, this is on another inquiry war crimes, the one in Sri Lanka. I have done a little bit more reporting and can say that a Sri Lankan diplomat yesterday told me that President Rajapaksa had an understanding with the Secretary-General that he could issues his own summary of the tête-à-tête meeting. That they violated no rules; that that was the understanding. I wanted to get your comment on that.
Spokesperson: As I said, it’s up to individual countries. If they wish to provide a readout of a meeting, it’s for them to do.
Correspondent: Was there an understanding? That’s the word that he used to me, that there was an understanding that would be done, but it wasn’t done, and then the Secretary-General chose not to comment. The understanding was that it would be done in that way.
Spokesperson: Well, as I said, this was tête-à-tête meeting. I wasn’t in the room. I assume that the diplomat that you refer to was also not in the room, and I think I will leave it at that.
Question: I want to ask, you’ve said that the information about Ban Ki-moon’s son-in-law’s involvement in Sri Lanka is irrelevant, although I would encourage you to just answer questions rather than judge their relevance. But I do want to know whether you are going to give an answer to this description of the Secretary-General’s relationship with President Rajapaksa prior to becoming Secretary-General?
Spokesperson: It’s really important to understand precisely: what do you mean by that?
Spokesperson: No, I mean what do you want? A list of the number of times they met or what? I mean, it’s just not clear to me.
Question: The times that they met; the terms on the issues on which they met about, whether, you know, whether the Secretary-General considers him a personal friend. All going to this point of whether, in on extraordinary…, why this, there was an abnormal described by Haysom as abnormal; and why the Sri Lankan Government is now saying they had a special understanding with the Secretary-General that apparently other Governments don’t get when the issue at issue is a inquiry into war crimes and the killing of 40,000 people. It seems relevant. But I mean, whether you think it is irrelevant, I have asked you that. You’d said you’d get it and I don’t have it. And on the question of the son-in-law, I don’t, have you been told? Have you asked the Secretary-General’s Office for that information or have you just not asked him? Do you have it but you don’t want to tell me or you don’t have it? That’s what I want to know.
Spokesperson: Well, the logic of that is a little bit confused. On the question of the Secretary-General’s meetings or otherwise with President Rajapaksa, the Secretary-General, as you know, before he was Secretary-General was the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea. And I will need to check what meetings he may have had in that capacity.
Correspondent: Check if he went on a visit with the President down to the hometown of the President in southern Sri Lanka.
Spokesperson: And I think we can obviously find that out. I mean, you are asking, we can obviously find out. But I mean, there are a couple of things here. One is that your focus is on this topic. There are many other topics that the Secretary-General deals with, whether it’s Myanmar, or the Middle East or, many topics. And it’s not about homing in and singling out one particular topic.
Correspondent: No, no, Mr. Haysom himself said it was abnormal, and I think if you look at the readouts that your office put out, there is only one that has a representation of what the country said. It’s also the only country that burned Ban Ki-moon in effigy since he’s been in office. So, I don’t think it’s a random, it’s not a country he picked at random. [inaudible]
Spokesperson: So you think that the readout was done like that because the effigy was burned, is that what you are saying?
Correspondent: No, I didn’t say that. I said those are true facts that make it significant, you can try to minimize it, but many people were killed, he visited the country [inaudible].
Spokesperson: It’s not about minimizing, it’s not about minimizing. Don’t put words into my mouth, Matthew, It’s not…
Correspondent: You said there are many other things.
Spokesperson: Yes, that’s not minimizing. That’s just saying that there are other topics.
Correspondent: But I asked this question at the beginning of the year, about his relationship with Rajapaksa, and I asked it two weeks ago and you’d said you’d get it. So, I don’t want to belabour it, I just want say…
Spokesperson: Well, now you’re belabouring it. And if I have something, I’ll be happy to share it.
Correspondent: But it’s easy enough to get that. I mean, it’s not…
Spokesperson: Well, if it’s easy enough maybe you will have got it already.
Correspondent: No, but from the Secretary-General. You are his Spokesman, I am not.
Spokesperson: Okay. Any other questions? Any other questions? Thank you very much.
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