Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The UN's Abu Ghraib?

Home-made pornographic videos shot by a United Nations logistics expert in the Democratic Republic of Congo have sparked a sex scandal that threatens to become the UN’s Abu Ghraib
write Jonathan Clayton and James Bone in The Times.
The case has highlighted the apparently rampant sexual exploitation of Congolese girls and women by the UN’s 11,000 peacekeepers and 1,000 civilians at a time when the UN is facing many problems, including the Iraqi “oil-for-food” scandal and accusations of sexual harassment by senior UN staff in Geneva and New York.

The prospect of the pornographic videos and photographs — now on sale in Congo — becoming public worries senior UN officials, who fear a UN version of the scandal at the American-run Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq. “It would be a pretty big problem for the UN if these pictures come out,” one senior official said.
Can you imagine European periodicals and television devoting as much newsprint and airtime as they did on Abu Ghraib itself? No, right?
“The fact that these things happened is a blot on us. It’s awful,” Jean-Marie Guehenno, the UN’s under-secretary-general for peacekeeping, said.

“What is important is to get to the bottom of it and fight it and make sure that people who do that pay for what they have done.”
When George W Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and other American honchos said much the same thing (often much more forcefully), they were blasted, castigated, and mocked for their comments. How much do you want to bet that media coverage of the UN scandal(s), insofar as it gets (they get) any publicity at all, will be replete with the leaders' quotation marks reported verbatim, as well as the absence of any comments, except of the tear-jerking, hand-wringing type?…

Merci to Monsieur Schreiber)

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