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 Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon, everyone.
The Secretary-General received the report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations today, and he promised the Panel that he would study their recommendations carefully and transmit the report to the General Assembly and the Security Council. He told the panel members that he had been especially impressed by how they had engaged in an open, consultative process, including meetings with the Security Council, several General Assembly committees and others.
The Secretary-General said that his office will be leading the implementation phase for the report’s recommendations, with the close participation of all the key departments. He said that his instruction to them will be to carry on the spirit the Panel employed; to be bold and to see the task as nothing less than preparing the United Nations to rise to the challenges of the future. His remarks are available online. At 3 p.m., José Ramos-Horta, the Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, and Ameerah Haq, the Vice-Chair, will brief you on the report in this room.
Regarding the consultations on Yemen, the Sana’a delegation arrived earlier this morning in Geneva, Switzerland. The transfer was made possible with the logistical support of the Department of Field Support (DFS) and the cooperation of Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Greece, Italy, Sudan and Switzerland, which expedited all the flight and landing clearances. The Special Envoy on Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has been meeting with the delegations from Riyadh and Sana’a. They would discuss the composition of the delegations, which could not exceed a formula of seven delegates plus three advisors from each side. In the coming days, the Special Envoy will brief members of the international community concerned with the situation in Yemen.
Meanwhile, UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] says that the number of children in Yemen who have been killed as a result of conflict over the last 10 weeks is four times that of all those confirmed to have been killed last year. At least 279 children have been killed and 402 wounded since the escalation of violence in Yemen, which began on 26 March, compared with 74 and 244, respectively, that were reported in the whole of last year.
The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, strongly condemns the shelling by armed opposition forces of the area of Rahman Mosque in Aleppo which reportedly killed and wounded dozens of civilians, including children. This indiscriminate attack on civilians in the city of Aleppo took place at the very time when Mr. de Mistura was in Damascus raising with the Government the issue of the protection of civilians and the urgent need to stop the use of barrel bombs.
While strongly condemning this very grave attack on civilians by armed opposition forces, the Special Envoy reaffirms that this should not justify in any case retaliation on populated areas through barrel bombs by the Syrian Government. The Syrian people are tired of being indiscriminately targeted in this cruel conflict and deserve protection. The Special Envoy recalls that international humanitarian law should apply in all circumstances and without distinction.
The UN refugee agency says new fighting in northern Syria has sent a further 23,135 refugees fleeing across the border into Turkey's Sanliurfa Province. UNHCR [Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees] says that, according to information received on Tuesday from the Turkish authorities, some 70 per cent of these were women and children. Most of the new arrivals are Syrians escaping fighting between rival military forces in and around the key border town of Tel Abyad, which was controlled by militants, and which is across the border from Akcakale. However, they also include more than 2,000 Iraqis from the cities of Mosul, Ramadi and Fallujah.
According to UNHCR staff in the field, most of the refugees are exhausted and arrive carrying just a few belongings. Some have walked for days. Since the arrivals began, UNHCR staff members have visited several areas where people were crossing or waiting to cross. In recent days, people have fled directly to Akcakale to escape fighting in Tel Abyad.
On Chad, you will have seen that yesterday we issued a statement in which the Secretary-General strongly condemned the bombings in N’Djamena that killed more than 25 people. The Secretary-General commends Chad for its courageous role in the fight against Boko Haram and stressed the importance of enhanced collaboration in this combat. The Security Council also issued a statement on these terrorist attacks and commended Chad’s courageous and active contribution to peace and stability in the Sahel region.
The UN Humanitarian Chief, Stephen O'Brien, called today for urgent support for the humanitarian response in South Sudan and the region at a high-level event co-organized by the European Commission and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva. He noted that it is the failure to end the violence that is fuelling humanitarian needs. The revised appeal seeks $1.63 billion to meet the most urgent needs until the end of the year, with a gap of $1 billion at the moment.
On the ground, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations have undertaken an emergency airlift operation to deliver survival kits, containing lifesaving supplies, to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in hard-to-reach areas of Unity State. The first distribution of survival kits was delivered by helicopter, targeting an estimated 28,000 people with approximately 4,500 kits. Recent violence has affected an estimated 750,000 people in Greater Upper Nile and forced approximately 150,000 people to flee their homes, many to extremely remote areas. Most are rural households, forced to abandon their lands before they could plant this season's main crops.
The UN refugee agency called today for urgent European support for Greece amid worsening conditions for refugees. Despite the considerable efforts of local authorities and civil society, initial reception conditions for refugees arriving in Greece's North Aegean and Dodecanese islands are worsening. Hundreds of refugees continue to arrive each day in inflatable dinghies and wooden boats, putting a tremendous strain on the island communities that receive them.
Since the beginning of this year, more than 55,000 refugees have arrived in Greece by sea from Turkey. More than 90 per cent are from countries experiencing war and conflict, principally Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. The number of arrivals is expected to increase further during the summer, when weather conditions make the sea crossing from the Turkish mainland less hazardous. More details on UNHCR’s website.
The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, spoke to the press following his meetings with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders in Cyprus today. The leaders are scheduled to meet tomorrow — this is second meeting between the leaders; the first one took place on 28 May. In the meantime, their negotiating teams have continued to meet, including today. At their meeting tomorrow, the leaders will continue to focus on fulfilling their joint vision for a united federal Cyprus. They have already scheduled additional meetings in June and July. Special Adviser Eide commended the work of the two negotiating teams for continuing to pave the way towards substantive negotiations. More information is available online.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, today spoke at a panel discussion on girls’ education at the Human Rights Council. He said that, despite considerable progress regarding girls' education in recent years, restrictions, violence and injustices continue to blight the lives of millions of women and girls. He said that in several countries, education is far from being a zone of gender-sensitivity and safety, and a shocking number of girls face sexual violence and harassment inside and on their way to schools. One third of girls in developing countries are married before they are 18, and millions give birth while they are still in their teens. His full remarks are available online.
Also, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) remains concerned that a number of human rights defenders, journalists and Government critics have been deprived of their liberty in Azerbaijan for exercising their right to freedom of expression, opinion, association and assembly. High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein has reached out to the authorities, including the President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, on a number of cases. Mr. Zeid has sought their release on humanitarian grounds. He has also called for the release of all others who have been deprived of their liberty simply for exercising their human rights.
The Human Rights Office says that these cases are indicative of a shrinking democratic space in Azerbaijan, where many civil society actors, journalists and lawyers fear reprisals or legal and administrative obstruction in carrying out their work. More information is available online.
The Secretary-General will travel to San Francisco on Friday, 26 June, to take part in events marking the seventieth anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter. In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the UN Conference on International Organization to draw up the Charter. The Secretary-General will attend the Charter Commemoration Ceremony at City Hall, together with San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and United States House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. He is also expected to travel to Palo Alto to give a lecture at Stanford University, highlighting the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the UN.
While in San Francisco, the Secretary-General will also participate in events focusing on the priorities of the UN, including sustainable development, climate change and human rights. He is scheduled to participate in a roundtable discussion with Environmentalist Tom Steyer and other participants, on climate change and building momentum for action at the forthcoming Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris. The Secretary-General is expected to receive the Harvey Milk Medal for launching the UN “Free & Equal” campaign. Launched in 2013, the campaign raises awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence, and discrimination, and promotes greater respect for the rights of LGBT people everywhere.
He will attend a meeting with representatives from the private sector, including the Chief Executive Officer of Dell, Michael Dell, to discuss ways in which major tech companies in the Bay Area can contribute to advancing the global development agenda.
I would like to flag today the fifth Global Forum on Remittances and Development in Milan, where more than 400 policymakers, private-sector and civil-society representatives observed the first International Day of Family Remittances. Yesterday, the International Fund for Agricultural Development had a report, “Sending Money Home: European flows and markets”, which shows that, last year, 50 million migrant workers living in Europe sent home $109.4 billion in remittances, providing a lifeline to more than 150 million people around the world.
On Burundi, we were asked yesterday about a letter to the Chef de Cabinet from media in Burundi. We did receive it later in the day and we continue to stress that freedom of expression and respect for the independence of journalists is essential. We call on all actors, including the Government, to ensure their safety.
Last, this evening, at 6:30 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, there will be an interactive panel discussion on digital solutions for online counter-radicalization. The event, co-organized by the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre and the Digital Diplomacy Coalition, will allow experts from the UN, digital media, communications and technology companies to discuss ways to address extremist narratives online without limiting the basic rights of freedom of speech and access to information. More information on this event is available at the Media Documents Centre. That’s it for me. Questions?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Can you please go on the record regarding the new South African news reports that South Africa troops serving as blue helmets in Darfur were surrounded by Sudanese troops awaiting the pending arrival of President Omar Bashir from South Africa?
Deputy Spokesman: Yes, we were asked about this earlier in the morning and checked with our colleagues at the UN-African Union [Hybrid Operation] in Darfur, UNAMID. What we have been told, South Africa currently has 802 members of an infantry battalion deployed in Kutum, Malha and Mellit team sites in North Darfur. And we can confirm the mission South African troops were not held hostage or under any threat as was reported in the media.
Question: Can you just explain the context, what happened there; were they Sudanese troops outside these bases and for how long? What is the context of what happened because these were combat‑ready troops on these bases and they took up combat ready postures, is that normal procedure? Why did that happen?
Deputy Spokesman: The information we have from UNAMID is they were not under any threat and so that is where we stand. In terms of operational details, obviously the troops on the ground may have to go through manoeuvres at any point in time. But, in terms of whether they faced a threat or were surrounded or held hostage, no, they were not.
Question: In terms of procedure, Farhan, if the Sudanese Army is moving in the vicinity is there protocol in terms of which they would inform the base and UN peacekeepers, that were moving and doing certain exercises and why the need of that would happen for a combat posture if it was just the Sudanese troops moving through the area?
Deputy Spokesman: There is a standard set of procedures by which peacekeeping troops in any country communicate with the host Government and make sure that any movements by Government troops are something that we are informed of and can coordinate our activities alongside and I believe that has been the case here as well. Yes?
Question: Thank you, Farhan. Today the Egyptian Court sentenced Mr. [Mohammed] Morsi and others and we know the Secretary‑General's position on death penalty, but does he find this verdict as a legitimate as a Court procedure and if he is to pick anybody from Egyptian authority repercussions of this decisions?
Deputy Spokesman: Yes. We are aware of the reports of the death sentences and the Secretary‑General is concerned about these verdicts. You are, of course, aware of our standing position against the death penalty and against the imposition of capital punishment, and you just mentioned it yourself. Beyond that, of course, we are aware of the fact that there is still the possibility of appeals and you are, of course, aware of our normal concerns, that due process be followed in trial proceedings and would apply in this case and may have more to say about this down the line as we review. Yes, Joe?
Question: Yes, in his statement concerning the report of the High‑level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, the Secretary‑General said he was impressed by how the Panel engaged in an open consultative process. Did he urge or do you know whether, in fact, consultations did occur with Mr. [Anders] Kompass and any other whistle-blowers regarding the various issues that have been affecting the peacekeeping operations in the last several months?
Deputy Spokesman: I'm not aware of whether that would have occurred. Although, as you know, as I just mentioned the Panel members, the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Panel will be here to talk to you at 3 p.m. and they can provide further details about the precise nature of their work. But, in any case, this work has to do with the… a broad range of reforms having to do with peace operations across the board. There is, as you know, a separate review panel that we still intend to announce the membership of down the line that will look closer at the cases you are mentioning.
Question: It's not so much the specific incident in the stand of the separate investigation but there is still a broader issue of how to handle whistle-blowers and channels of communication allegations of cover-ups, a pattern of such, so wouldn't that is been part of the overall scope of this report?
Deputy Spokesman: I believe they do deal with questions of accountability including in peace operations. But, like I said, you can talk to them later this afternoon about that. Yes?
Question: Actually some other questions, on that itself rather than, I mean, I take that this information notice of summary of the report to be a summary of their work, so I wanted to ask, you know, what is the Secretary‑General's position on their statement that immunity does not… must not mean impunity and was never intended to cover private behaviour of UN personnel. First, is it the Secretary‑General's understanding that that applies to peacekeepers, as well as civilian personnel and does he agree with it?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, first of all, you have to remember, the Secretary‑General just received the report at 10 a.m. this morning and he, in fact, is going to be reading the report along with his office and they will review and study the report. So, he is looking at the same recommendations that the Member States will be looking at and the press will be looking at once the report is a public document. So, he will then make his own evaluations about that. So, that is what he is doing. Of course, the panel members can also talk to you about their recommendations. But, in terms of how he will regard them, that is a process that is just beginning right this moment.
Question: Sure, but I would like you to respond to one thing. One of their statements in this information note is troops should be banned from countries listed in the Secretary‑General's annual report on children and armed conflict, and conflict related sexual violence until delisted. I guess I wanted, one, would he agree and, two, what would he say to those who say that process as was just was shown with Israel and Hamas and Sangaris is one he himself controls the list so at least he should agree to this. Do you agree? He controls which countries are listed.
Deputy Spokesman: Again, my answer is the same; he just started the process of reviewing this report. He will look at all of the recommendations including the ones you are mentioning and we will see what… where we go with that. But, at this stage, the point for him is to study it and to look at exactly the work that they have done and he has praised them very much for the consultative nature of their work and he is going to go further with that. He will share this report with the General Assembly and the Security Council and he will also at the same time evaluate the report and its recommendations.
Question: The reason I'm asking is, yesterday, Stéphane was saying that the Secretary‑General was already moving towards disclosing the list of country names of alleged sexual abusers, so he obviously started a process totally outside of this report of moving in that direction so there is at least one bullet point directly on that. Is that something he can raise?
Deputy Spokesman: Indeed, there is some reforms that he has been doing separate and apart from this. Of course, that doesn't mean that he won't also look at this report and see what he can do to advance this, but he has been moving on different fronts. And part of what we have been trying to do is see also the sort of support we can get from the Member States for some of these reforms. Some of them the Secretary‑General can do independently. Some of them he would distinctly need the support of the membership. And we are trying to see how that goes, and this can be the start of a dialog on how we actually get some of these reforms pushed through. Masood?
Question: On this issue of Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh given asylum in Malaysia and Indonesia. And the Malaysia and Indonesia Governments said they would give this asylum temporarily, but eventually they will need international community to relocate them and also give money for the time that they are settled in. Has that arrangement been made by the international community and as a relocation, where would they be relocated?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, as we also have made clear both in this context and the context of the Mediterranean Sea a wider number of Governments and wider number of countries need to get involved in the process, so the burden does not fall disproportionately on just a handful of countries. We are appreciative to the countries that have been making sure that at least on a temporary basis the people who have been migrants in the seas in East Asia and South-East Asia will have a place to stay for a while. UNHCR is going to try to work and see what can happen with the Rohingya and others who have been taken to the high seas. But, what we are urging at least as for other countries to be willing to share the task of finding homes for all the people who have been risking their lives.
Question: Yeah, but has this financial arrangement been made to satisfy these Governments, if at all?
Deputy Spokesman: These are discussions that are happening across various Governments. But, certainly, what we are trying to do, both from this podium and through UNHCR and others, is to urge for a more equitable sharing of the burden that is being posed by having to take care of the many migrants and refugees who have taken to the high seas.
Correspondent: On the same issue of migrants…
Deputy Spokesman: Can we go around to some other questions, please? Hold on. There are many hands in the air please. Yes?
Question: Thank you, Farhan. Two questions. First you have said twice that the Secretary‑General is going to send a report to the Security Council and the General Assembly. When is that going to happen? Is it going to happen today? Are we going to see it before this press conference? And, secondly, on Yemen, it's already 6:30 p.m. in Geneva in the evening, are these talks going to go on tomorrow? Are they still going to be proximity talks or are they going to be in the same room? Thank you.
Deputy Spokesman: Okay, first of all, on the report, we expect within the next few days it will go to the Security Council and the General Assembly with a cover letter from the Secretary‑General. So, right now, he is reading it. We expect to then write up a cover letter and transmit it along. Then it will become a document. Hopefully we will share it as soon as we can at that stage, but what that means is for now you won't have the full report. I believe that they will try to provide a short summary of key points in time for when you meet with the panel members at 3 p.m. The full report will in the coming days, then go to the Member States and when it goes to them we will try to make it available to you.
Regarding Yemen, yes, it's evening there. And I believe Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed did meet with the Riyadh delegation and I believe he is also trying to meet with Sana’a delegation and hopefully that will have happened by about now. This process of talks will continue for a while. Initially what he is trying to do is decide on delegation lists for each side so that each side is represented by seven delegates and three alternates and the delegation is kept to that number. And once that happens then we can proceed with other tasks. And for now, yes, its proximity talks but we do hope that down the line we will have face‑to‑face negotiations. We are not to that stage yet. Majeed?
Question: Thank you. I have two questions. The first one is about Yemen, Geneva, same thing. The Secretary‑General met personally with Riyadh delegations, but he didn't meet with Sana’a and Houthi delegation. Has he been in contact… direct contract with them?
Deputy Spokesman: Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is in there and in contact with them. He was unable to meet them because they had not arrived until later this morning, so after he had left to attend the election of the new General Assembly President.
Question: Any plan to have teleconference or something with them?
Deputy Spokesman: At this stage, no. His participation in the Geneva talks was for the initial phase. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to see them at that point. His representative, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed, is talking with them and he will continue.
Question: My second questions was about Iraq and it has been more than a month you asked for half a billion dollars for the aid programme there, and recently, the Under-Secretary‑General for Humanitarian Affairs was there at the end and again asked for the money. Has any portion of the money received and how has that affected the programme?
Deputy Spokesman: The money has been received… is being received, but very slowly and we need much more of it. I believe you have a link to our website which updates the financial figures regularly and you can see how that changes. And the needs are very pressing and in fact have grown in recent weeks because of the latest fighting and latest displacement. So, our figures are very high. And Stephen O'Brien as he went there made very clear the urgent need for money. Masood, you have another question, and then we will go to…
Question: I just wanted to follow‑up on that, that one question that I asked earlier, that there is this report that the Australian Government and the Navy is paying off these human traffickers to turn the migrants away to either Indonesia, has somebody in the United Nations talked to the Australian Government, that is illegal or not?
Deputy Spokesman: Regarding that I don't have anything specific to say about the Australian Government. You have seen, however, our general concerns about any use of human trafficking including in this instance. And we have been imploring all the Governments in the region, therefore, to work collectively to address the situation of the migrants and refugees on the high seas precisely so we don't have a situation where they are preyed upon by human trafficking. Yes?
Question: Yes, the report of human traffickers has surfaced again that young boys are being kidnapped… surfaced in the Egypt that young boys are kidnapped and put on migrant boats in hopes they can eventually get to Rome and be used as prostitution. Are there any new details on that? And secondly, that plane that was supposed to go to Geneva from Sana’a to Djibouti and you mentioned 20 countries.
Deputy Spokesman: No, it was eight countries. But, yes, it took some doing and it took some effort to get the necessary flight clearances, but it worked out and now they are there, and as they say, better late than never. Regarding your question on human trafficking, I don't have any details about this latest incident but you might want to consult with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which would be following up on that. Yes, Joe?
Question: Farhan, is there any link between the $274 million that the Saudis pledged and appointment of Cheikh Ahmed?
Deputy Spokesman: No, no, no, the appointment of Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, as you know, he was doing a tremendous work very respected work with our offices dealing with the Ebola crisis and so he was actually in Guinea at the time. And he has a reputation for being able to deal with difficult situations such as this one.
Question: Holding an appointment of the Secretary‑General without any suggestion or pressure and from any Member State?
Deputy Spokesman: He is clearly the choice of the Secretary‑General and he was chosen by the Secretary‑General at a time when Jamal Benomar had stepped aside because he had made clear that he wouldn't be able to do or perform his task as he had done previously. Yes, Sarah?
Question: Thank you, Farhan. On the children in armed conflict report there seems to be a lack of continuity when it comes to naming and shaming. For example on number 44, it's not mentioned that French troops were accused of the allegations, rather the abuses are attributed to operations Sangaris and so I was just wondering why that is and also on the OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] report?
Deputy Spokesman: But, operation Sangaris is a French operation.
Correspondent: It doesn't specifically say French. It says specifically…
Deputy Spokesman: It’s a semantic distinction you are making and it's not our role at this stage in any case to argue about how reports are written.
Question: [Inaudible] continuity?
Deputy Spokesman: [Inaudible] the professionals on the staff of the adviser on children and armed conflict, and this is the report. Its results speak for itself and the Secretary‑General stands by his report which goes out on his name.
Question: On OIOS report, there is a table of substantiated [inaudible] allegations against uniform personnel and is itemized by Member State from 2010‑2013. When are we going to have the figures for 2014 by Member State?
Deputy Spokesman: I believe that's being tabulated by the Office for Internal Oversight Services. And as soon as we can get the next slate of figures we will try to provide them, but right now the numbers they have provided are the ones they have been able to substantiate through their work.
Correspondent: I wanted to ask on Burundi, thanks for confirming that letter. And my understanding is it was sent Saturday to Ms. [Susanna] Malcorra and that is why I asked about it yesterday.
Deputy Spokesman: No, we logged it yesterday afternoon, eight-ish. So, that’s why we informed you today.
Question: I wanted to ask you about something that has occurred since. The leader of the MSD, one of the opposition parties, Leonidas and pardon my pronunciation Nimpagaritse has been arrested and they say tortured by the Government. And people are saying this as a result of the after the AU [African Union] meeting, basically the arrest and rounding up of opposition party leaders. So, I wanted to know is the UN aware of this? And it's all over social media in Burundi and elsewhere. And what does Mr. Bathily or who is handling for the UN now reports such as these of the arrest of opposition leaders?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, regarding that, regarding your question about this particular opposition leader, we would have to check with the office on the ground. In terms of who is following up, the Secretary‑General has requested his Special Representative and head of the UN Office in Central Africa, Mr. [Abdoulaye] Bathily, to carry out consultations and to ensure effective participation of the UN and internal facilitation called for by the African Union Peace and Security Council. This, of course, is regarding the holding of free transparent and credible elections in Burundi. So, he is doing that work right now and we will have to see what response he has.
Question: What is the role now of this [United Nations Electoral Observer Mission in Burundi] (MENUB) that is there? And I have seen a request by civil society in Burundi the mission seeks to visit or ensure the safety of this particular opposition political leader. What are they doing? What have they been going and what are they doing currently?
Deputy Spokesman: We will check and see what is being done regarding this particular opposition leader. The mandate of the electoral mission, MENUB, is a public matter and it hasn't really changed recently. They are still doing the preparatory work.
Question: There is talk of the African Union sending observers, and call it military observers, but observers for this election now scheduled for 15 July. Does the UN have any coordination with them? What does the UN think of that?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, at this stage it’s really a question for the African Union and I am not aware that they made any final decision on that. Yes, please, Olga.
Question: Thank you, Farhan. Concerning the death penalty to ex‑President Morsi and you mentioned there is still a chance for [inaudible]?
Deputy Spokesman: Appeal.
Question: Appeal. Sorry. And Turkish [Tayyip] Erdogan called for international community to do something to cancel this sentence. So, United Nations only hopes that appeal will work or?
Deputy Spokesman: We hope that due process will be followed as a standard. We don't second guess judicial processes in different countries. What we do insist upon is in every country where you have a judicial process, that due process is being followed.
[He later added: The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the confirmation of the sentencing to death of approximately 100 defendants, including former President Morsi. The United Nations is against the use of the death penalty in all circumstances. The Secretary-General urges the Government of Egypt to ratify the second optional protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to impose a moratorium on the death penalty. The Secretary-General is concerned that such verdicts, handed down after mass trials, may well have a negative impact on the prospects for long-term stability in Egypt. He underscores, once again the importance of pluralism, including the guarantee that all voices are heard and represented. Noting that the sentences are subject to appeal, he urges the authorities to ensure that defendants can benefit from due process and fair trial guarantees.]
Question: Thank you, Farhan. Regarding Yemen, does the UN have a sense of… we know, there are thousands of or lots of civilians who have been killed, does the UN have a sense of which side is responsible for which for the portion of deaths? And I'd like to ask the same question regarding Ukraine apportioning out which side, Government versus rebels?
Deputy Spokesman: Regarding Ukraine, you have seen our human rights monitoring mission on the ground has tried to provide as much detail as it can provide about the violence there. We don't have a similar mission in Yemen and don't have similar types of breakdowns at this stage but we have been able to provide at least the number of casualties, and that is what we are continuing to do. Have a good afternoon everyone. Wait. Sorry. Yes, yes.
Question: Thank you, Farhan. Regarding this OIOS report and these sexual transaction cases by the peacekeepers and when you compare that to the… this allegation on the French troops in Central Africa, do you see these two problems different nature or do you see something common in terms for the UN?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, certainly, there is a commonality of problems in terms of the need to have accountability when incidents like this involving abuse of people on the ground, and particularly involving children, takes place. There is a difference, of course, because the French troops were not a UN peacekeeping force of any sort. They are not under our command or under our operational control in any way. We have different responsibility for people who are part of a UN peacekeeping operation. But, regardless, whenever these activities occur there needs to be accountability and we need to be able to make sure that such activities cannot be carried out with any sort of impunity. Yes?
Question: I wanted to ask about, well, it's about the Dominican Republic but regards Haiti for the UN — there is this pending, sometimes postponed decision to basically declare stateless tens of thousands or some people say even over 100,000 people of Haitian ancestry that are in the Dominican Republic. It was said that the deadline was today, and then it said the deadline was in two days, but it's basically reported that the Dominican Republic intends to expel a number of people they believe came from Haiti in large numbers and set up camps on the border to do it and have chartered buses. So, I wanted to know, first of all, what the UN has any comments on this decision but also what preparations given the strain it might put on Haiti where there continues to be cholera, which has some link to the UN, and otherwise, what preparations is the UN making for what seems to be a decision by the Government to expel these people?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, we made our concerns about this issue clear repeatedly in the past, both through UNHCR in terms of its concerns about the principle of non‑refoulement and also concerns about how this is to be determined, whether the people who are being transported are citizens of Haiti or of the Dominican Republic. So, we made clear our concerns about this and will continue to do so with the respective authorities on the ground.
Question: Are there other preparations for if it happens?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, at this stage it's a hypothetical situation, so I wouldn't have anything to say on it right now. Yeah?
Question: As you know, South African Government said that it was the AU that granted immunity to Bashir and it was only up to them. When the UN holds a meeting somewhere is it the host country or the UN that grants immunity or both?
Deputy Spokesman: Really for that I would just refer you to the text of the Vienna Conventions which talk about immunities for visiting Heads of State. It's a complex legal document and I don't think I can summarize it.
Correspondent: I'll look into it. Thanks.
Question: How does the Vienna Convention tie in with the Rome Statute if there is arrest warrant for an individual that does, what supersedes what in that case?
Deputy Spokesman: That is a very complex matter and it's not really one I can get into here because there is any number of laws that apply. The Rome Statute is a treaty and that needs to be implemented and as you saw the Secretary‑General talked about the need to implement the decisions of the International Criminal Court. Similarly in the case of Darfur you have relevant resolutions of the Security Council, those are also international law. And how those coordinate with the Vienna Convention is a complicated question for an international lawyer who makes far more than I do. Have a good afternoon.