By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 11, updated April 12 — The UN uses private military contractors or mercenaries, in the Congo for example, Inner City Press has learned.
The UN is not supposed to use mercenaries, but on April 9 Inner City Press asked the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in writing:
“please confirm or deny that MONUSCO uses the private security firm Saracen, and if not deny, state what they do, and how use of this firm does not constitute UN using private military contractor or ‘mercenaries,’ including in light of interaction between Saracen and UN Somalia / Eritrea sanctions committee. Where (else) does DPKO or DFS use private security?”
But DPKO, despite having a database to contractors to which Inner City Press also has access, said it needed time to response. So the next day on April 10 Inner City Press asked the UN spokesman:
Inner City Press: I have asked DPKO and I haven’t received an answer, does MONUSCO use Saracen Uganda or any other Saracen variant which is a private military contractor, for security in the Congo and how does it comply with UN rules on using mercenaries?
Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: if you have asked DPKO and they haven’t answered yet, don’t take that necessarily as a no, it means they may still be trying to get the answer you are looking for, okay.
Inner City Press: Since you’ve got a procurement data base, they can just plug the name in.
Spokesperson Nesirky: Thanks, Matthew, for that, and let’s see what we can come up with. Good afternoon everybody.
But even the next day April 11, the spokesman did not send Inner City Press any answer, and DPKO said it needed yet more time.
Saracen, as Inner City Press previously reported in connection with its attempts to get paid by Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government despite the UN’s Somalia / Eritrea sanctions, is partially owned by the brother of Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni — who Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on April 11, according to Sudan’s Permanent Representative with whom Ban also spoke.
So here from Inner City Press is information from the UN’s procurement database, answering the question in the affirmative (but in turn raising more questions to be pursued) –
August 2010 SARACEN UGANDA LTD UGA CON/MON/10-085
Provision of Unarmed Security Services at Entebbe and Kampala
1-Aug-10 to 31-Jul-11 $170,685 MONUSCO
September 2010 SARACEN UGANDA LTD UGA
Security services $132,935 11KIN-200211 MONUSCO
July 2011 SARACEN UGANDA LTD UGA
Security services $144,648 12KIN-200059 MONUSCO
So why wouldn’t DPKO and Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman just answer the question? Watch this site.
Update of April 12, 10 am — DPKO has written, in response to the April 9 questions:
“I have a response on the parts of your questions related to MONUSCO. On private security more generally, I am still following up. Question: Is MONUSCO using the services of SARACEN, a Ugandan private security company?
“MONUSCO contracts private unarmed security companies to assist in access control procedures in all of its compounds. Saracen is contracted by MONUSCO for these purposes at its base in Entebbe, Uganda.”
While DPKO did not provide that actual contract information which Inner City Press published, this information says Saracen is under UN contract in Kampala as well. We seek explanation and await response “private security more generally” – and how it complies with UN system rules and principles. Watch this site.