Six questions for the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutérres about Mario Paciolla
To the Secretary General of the UN,
His Excellency Antonio Gutérres,
Naples, Italy, 2 August 2020
My name is Gennaro Carotenuto and I am an Italian university professor, who has always been committed to the study and defense of human rights in Latin America. Since 15 July 2020, I have been deeply affected by the death of the member of your peace mission in Colombia, Mario Paciolla, and worried about his death. Eighteen days have passed, a time that is already too long, without knowing anything concrete about his death. Sadly, many of these doubts concern the United Nations and its personnel on the ground, and I can only ask you, in your recognized authority, to clarify them:
1) What exactly did the Head of Mission Security, Christian Thompson, do in response to Mario Paciolla’s call for help just four hours before his death on July 15? Did he answer the call? Did he coordinate with his superiors? Did he activate himself or did he send his subordinates? Who from the UN physically intervened on the scene? What did the UN do materially, on the many days Paciolla expressed fears for his life, to ensure his safety? The question is legitimate: “Has Mario been left alone by the UN in the hands of his torturers?
2) “It has raised doubts in public opinion, Thompson’s own extensive security record, with multiple experiences in private entities that can profile themselves as a counterpart to the UN mission’s peacekeeping goals. The only answer to these doubts was the thunderous removal of Thompson’s CV from Linkedin. Was Christian Thompson the appropriate person to ensure the safety of Mario Paciolla and the other members of the Mission?
3) The Fiscalia General of Colombia accuses the Colombian police (SIJIN) of allowing the security of the United Nations (SIU) to pollute the site of the crime, remove Mario Paciolla’s belongings and return the apartment where he lived and died to the owner, making it impossible to carry out fundamental investigations. Several sources have doubts about the completeness of the list of Mario Paciolla’s belongings handed over to the family, from which some digital devices would be missing. How is this possible?
4) How is it that 18 days after Mario Paciolla’s death, nothing came from the UN that could clarify the facts and all the elements involved would have been asked to remain in strictest secrecy? Furthermore, nothing came that could dispel the many doubts about the very work of the Mission. What was the nature of the conflict between Paciolla and the top management of the Mission, and which gave the impression that the Italian citizen wanted to denounce crimes committed within the Mission itself? Do you think it would be beneficial for the UN to shield itself behind diplomatic immunity rather than respond to a need for transparency?
5) Public opinion has been waiting too long for news about the outcome of the two autopsies carried out on the body of the unfortunate Paciolla, a basic element of transparency. Can you clarify the role of Jaime Hernán Pedraza, the doctor appointed by the UN to attend the first autopsy on Mario Paciolla’s body and how he related and coordinated with the Italian Embassy and the family of your official? Is it true that he led the Paciolla family to believe that he was delegated by the Italian Embassy, but that this was not the case?
6) In addition to the specific doubts about his behavior and possible criminal responsibilities, which we hope will be ascertained in legal proceedings, the Paciolla family accuses the UN of substantial indifference and inhumanity for the death of their relative. Don’t you think that your silence also contributes to making a case more gloomy in which the UN can only be sided for Truth and Justice for Mario Paciolla? Don’t you think it is now inevitable to make your voice heard?
I submit these questions to you, sure that it can help to clarify the doubts about a case that, in addition to the irreparable death of Mario Paciolla, is creating a great alarm in those in the world who care about the defense of human rights,
Prof. Gennaro Carotenuto