Thursday, December 8, 2016

UN Spokesman Farhan Haq Ignores Press Questions Two Weeks, Calls It “Attack” on Egyptian State Media



By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 8 -- Following the election of Donald Trump on November 8-9 UN high officials, one of them told Inner City Press on November 14, “have been freaking out. They don't know how much is going to be cut, and from where.”

   Here's a suggestion, based not only on Inner City Press' personal experience at the UN (NYT here) but also interviews with staff, diplomats and elected officials: if there are UN Departments to be cut or eliminated, or radically reformed and made to perform, they are not only the Department of Public Information (DPI) but also the Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary General.

On December 8, after having not provided any answer or even confirming receipt of five questions submitted on November 25 by Inner City Press to Ban Ki-moon's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric and his deputy Farhan Haq, Inner City Press at the noon briefing asked when they'd be answered.

  Haq responded by picking one of the questions and calling it an attack on correspondent, the Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef to whom, despite not having asked the UN a single question in 2016 and rarely being seen in the building, Ban Ki-moon and Cristina Gallach are giving Inner City Press' long time shared office, confining Inner City Press to a minders for nine months and counting.

      Turning to the (small) crowd in the briefing room, or to the United Nations Correspondents Association which on December 16 is being allowed by the UN to sell access to Ban Ki-moon for $1200 and whose 1984 President Sanaa Youssef was, Haq said referred again to Inner City Press “attacking” this Egyptian state media. Video here.

As if an emailed questions, which Inner City Press chose NOT to include in its story about the other unanswered questions, was an attack. Now, here's the question:

“Please provide the list of media / correpondents waiting for UN office space, in the order in which their requests will be fulfilled, and the list as of May 2016 when Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef was assigned S-303. Please describe any and all means the UN uses to assess whether  Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef complies with the UN's stated rules for maintaining UN office space.”

 This question was asked respectfully in writing on November 25, reiterated to Haq and Dujarric again in writing on December 5, and to Gallach's Media Accreditation office on December 7. It should be answered.

  This year the Spokespeople had Inner City Press, which asks them the most questions, thrown out of the briefing room (video here), then the UN (audio) and its office (video), and defended it in a memo to the US Senate Foreign Relations Commitee they then refused to explain. (Here, see Paragraphs 9 and 11).

Beyond routinely dodging and trying to discourage questions in noon briefing, in the most recent example of waste on November 25, when the office was paid, it did not answer a single one of the questions Inner City Press submitted in the morning, including:

Subject: Press Qs in lieu of briefing today: Burundi, USG Gallach use of funds; SG's brother/UNGC, MALU, UNITAR, OMP Solutions, etc
Date: Fri, Nov 25, 2016 at 12:00 PM
To: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org, Farhan Haq [at] un.org>, etc

In lieu of a briefing, here are questions for answer as if the daily noon briefing were held:

-- In Burundi tomorrow Nov 26 there is scheduled to be a demonstration against the UN Panel of Experts, in which government employees are required to participate. (Photo attached). Please before the event provide the UN Secretariat's / Ban Ki-moon's comment - and, separately, how it will be acted on under the Note Verbale about Burundian troops in MINUSCA which Inner City Press obtained and published on November 23.

-- In terms of UN Ethics and spending of public money, please state whether the trip by USG Gallach to Catalonia to get an award was paid for by the UN, and if so why and how much, https://twitter.com/BecarioslaCaixa/status/797018977289519104 and separately provide a list of USG Gallach's UN-paid trips for the past year.

-- A French firm OMP Solutions has said publicly it gets paid to outfit UN Troop Contributing Countries for UN Peacekeeping missions. Please state the UN's knowledge of which UN Missions and TCC this company services, how selected and for how much (including whether a UN payment to a Commerzbank account in Paris was, in fact, for OMP Solutions); also any and all interactions by USG Ladsous with this company, is principals or affiliates...

-- Please state the purpose and budget line for the construction netting currently surrounding the UNITAR building on 45th Street.

-- Regarding the Secretary General's brother Ki Ho, please provide comment on his company KD Power being de-listed by the UN Global Compact, and separately state the UN's role in having one of the three links Inner City Press sent your office on November 9 about KD Power's mining in Myanmar removed from the Internet.

This is also reiterating, among other outstanding requests, the list of carbon offsets the SG mentioned in his Columbia SIPA speech, a copy of the SG's speech to the Council of Korean Americans for which $100,000 sponsorships were sought, a list of who bought CKA sponsorships (for potential UN conflict of interest), a description of the process by which the SG's son in law emerged as and was named, without recusal, UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya, and update on the Bambari killing.

  Not one was answered. At 4:30 pm, Inner City Press went into the closing-down for the weekend office and was asked, “Do you want something?” Yes - at least one answer. And, starting January 1, a new Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General.

When Spain's Cristina Gallach was put in charge of DPI by Ban Ki-moon and threw Inner City Press out of the UN on two hours notice and without providing any opportunity to be heard, she also at best misled not only Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta but also a number of other UN Under Secretaries General.

   Gallach told Ramos Horta, in writing, that after Inner City Press re-entered as a “non resident correspondent” it would have the same access to cover the UN. In fact, for nine months now Gallach has confined Inner City Press to a minder to hinder coverage of the UN General Assembly, ECOSOC and Trusteeship Council.

  Early on, another Under Secretary General told Inner City Press Gallach had told him everything was fine, there were not restrictions on Inner City Press - a blatantly falsehood.

Other Under Secretaries General, as recently on November 25, informed Inner City Press that Gallach told them that Inner City Press would be restored to its longtime office after four months of “penalty.”
 In fact, before four months elapsed Gallach had all of Inner City Press' files removed from the office and dumped on First Avenue, and put in the office an Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom whose correspondent Sanaa Youssef rarely comes in to the UN and never asks any questions (her only qualification seems to be that she was a past present of the pro-Ban UN Correspondents Association).

  On November 25, Inner City Press asked - this time in writing - requested information about this switch and violation of the what few rules the UN says it has, as well as the below, about Gallach's waste of UN and public funds.



Who paid for UN official 's travel for award that has nothing to do with UN? ICP asked; so far, no answer. 

   Since Cristina Gallach of Spain took DPI over, the Department has been in decline, while Gallach herself uses UN -- that is, public -- money to fly around giving little publicized speeches and picking up awards for herself, if only on Catalan.

Inner City Press asked about this at the November 22 noon briefing - then on November 25, a paid UN day when Ban Ki-moon's spokesman canceled the briefing but said questions about be answered, formally asked six questions, one about Gallach's rule-less censorship and this one on use of funds:
“In terms of UN Ethics and spending of public money, please state whether the trip by USG Gallach to Catalonia to get an award was paid for by the UN, and if so why and how much, https://twitter.com/BecarioslaCaixa/status/797018977289519104 and separately provide a list of USG Gallach's UN-paid trips for the past year.”

   This information should, obviously, be provided and when it is, or isn't, we will write about it again. In covering Ban Ki-moon's November 25 reward to Spain's Bernardino Leon after Leon sold out the UN and Libya by negotiation a UAE job, Inner City Press' last 2015 coverage of Leon came back up. Some point to a link to follow-Spaniard Gallach's February 2016 ouster of Inner City Press without so much as once speaking with Inner City Press or giving it any right to be heard. Gallach Must Go.

While the UN where it sees fit announces the travel of other Under Secretaries General, those of Gallach are not announced (or, most often, reported anywhere).

Recently, one was reported, if only in press releases. But while Gallach spent UN / public money to go, there was no mention of the UN. Perhaps it was a pretext to go pick up an award elsewhere. Maybe Gallach should just keep on traveling.

   How many trips have there been? What has been the benefit to the UN, of Gallach going to pick up Catalan awards? How much has it all cost? We'll have more on this.

Gallach was put atop DPI as Ban Ki-moon's attempt to ingratiate himself to Spain during its now-ending UN Security Council term, it has not only evicted the investigative Press without any due process or appeal, it has most recent named as the UN's gender empowerment ambassador not an actual person but rather a cartoon character, Wonder Woman.

   Gallach, after not consulting with staff or even the top of UN Women, ignored the staff and mission protest to her ceremony promoting a forthcoming movie.

  Now in a move surprising even to Inner City Press, its long time mailbox on the UN's third floor had the "Inner City Press" sign removed and all of the mail in the box was taken. It was to this box that whistleblowers, many of them from inside the UN system, sent information to Inner City Press.

For the UN to believe it can seize the correspondence in a journalist's box is a new low, even for Gallach and Ban Ki-moon. We'll now be running examples of the type of corruption complaints submitted, concerning Ban Ki-moon and his promoted son in law, Gallach and other Ban officials.

  During a recent meeting in the UN of representatives of the UN Information Centers, a participant called Inner City Press aside and said, among other things, that if they were seen with Inner City Press they would "pay the consequences." Who runs the UNICs? Gallach.

   Before Gallach put a target on Inner City Press for daring to ask her about her role in the UN bribery scandal, there were other Department of Public Information officials in communication with Inner City Press, on how and why this changed we'll have more. The UN Department of “Public” Information has become a parody of its title under Gallach, now to the point of seizing the Press' mail.

    In terms of outright corruption, even the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng ongoing bribery case found that Gallach did no due diligence of at least two Ng Lap Seng funded events in the UN, including involving the UN's slavery memorial.

    Three strikes and you're out. Further, why does the UN need its own propaganda arm? It debilitates UN officials to think they can avoid the actual Press and do softball “interviews” with the UN's own media. There are some good people in DPI, and not only they but some of their functions could find homes in other Departments. But as of today, and in the near future, the UN Department of Public Information should be cut.  We'll have more on this.

As Antonio Guterres prepares to take over as UN Secretary General from Ban Ki-moon on January 1, one litmus test will be whether those Ban-era officials implicated in corruption like the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashse UN bribery case are moved out, or retained for political reasons.

   Here's the test: while Cristina Gallach of Spain, to whom Ban Ki-moon gave the top job at the UN Department of Public Information in an attempt to ingratiate himself to Spain which had just come onto the Security Council, is repeatedly criticized in the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of l'affaire Ng Lap Seng (here at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20b), and summarily evicted the investigative Press for asking her about her role - will she remain?

   Rajoy of Spain may want to keep an Under Secretary General, but is retaliatory incompetent Gallach the right one? Why not give Spain the UN Disarmament USG post, if they get one at all? Gender parity cannot be made a pretext to protect corruption and censorship. Busca una otra.

   Sources tell Inner City Press that Gallach's previous boss and protect, Javier Solana, may try to play his Socialist Party cards to keep her on. But is that appropriate?


Cristina Gallach with indicted Franciso Lorenzo, asked then evicted Press

  As the UN bribery scandal gathered force Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for an audit by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services of Sheri Yan's Global Sustainability Foundation (GSF), David Ng Lap Seng's Sun Kian Ip Group and its affiliates including the "World Harmony Foundation" and South South News, among others.

  The audit, completed early this year but first put online by Inner City Press, directly criticizes Cristina Gallach, the Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, Paragraphs 37-40 -- and 20b.

This last concerns the lack of any due diligence by the UN Department of Public Information under Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach of Ng Lap Seng's GWF's sponsorship of the “Ark of Return” ceremony.

Now in November, a person charged along with Ng Lap Seng, Jeffrey Yin, has made a motion to suppress what he said when arrested in September 2015. His motion says among other things that he was awake for more than 24 hours. Whether it would furhter push back Ng's trial, already put beyond the time when Ban Ki-moon, on whose watch it happened and whose Secretariat including Gallach bear responsibility, is not yet known.

   Even in January, Antonio Guterres will have taken over from Ban Ki-moon. Will Guterres move past Ban Ki-moon's only partial cooperation -- and Ban's and Gallach's retaliation against Inner City Press for having dug into each of their roles in the scandal since October 2015? In that month, Inner City Press asked Gallach about her role in the South South Awards with South South News' Francis Lorenzo. Video here.

  In February 2016, on the thinnest of pretexts and without once speaking with Inner City Press, Gallach ordered it out of the UN on two hours notice, then evicted its long time office in April. South South News, described in the case as a conduit for bribery, remains in its office, never asking any quesitons at the UN, like Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom to which Gallach purports to give Inner City Press' office.

  Gallach herself must go - but will she? How, for example, would the laudable ideal of gender parity apply to incompetent or corrupt holdover official? We'll have more on all this.

On August 23, 2016, the International Day for the Remembrance of Slavery and its Abolition, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here

On June 29, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Farhan Haq about it , video here, UN transcript here and below.

On August 11, lawyers for Ng Lap Seng filed in Federal court their formal demand to the UN and Ban Ki-moon's chief lawyer Manuel de Serpa Soares to produce a slew of financial and other information, including all of its communications with South South News.

 SSN is described in the file, by the prosecution, as a vehicle of bribery but the UN has left it in its office -- a conflict of interest -- while evicting Inner City Press which asked questions about it. Ban Ki-moon's UN is corrupt. We'll have more on this.

On July 29 Shiwei Yan a/k/a Sheri Yan was sentenced to 20 months in prison, was fined $12,500 and forfeited $300,000. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's press release, here.

As this player in on UN scandal was sentenced, the UN outright stonewalled on basic Press questions about a news scandal, while having evicted the questioning Press and confining it to minders. Then it said the event was canceled as a basis to answer no questions.

This is Ban Ki-moon's UN: Ban attended Sheri Yan's father's one person art show, had his photo taken at it. See here.


Ban and Yan's bio, credit via photo links

The UN claims the Ng Lap Seng and Sheri Yan case has nothing to do with it or especially Ban, who wants to run for President of South Korea. But this is false.

Ban is allowing new privatization of the UN, through UN Security; his spokesman is trying to discourage questions about it by accusing Inner City Press of “unethical Googling,” after having played a role in ousting and evicting Inner City Press. This is Ban's UN.
From the prosecutor's new letter:

"in an email dated on or about March 12, 2010, an individual affiliated with the State Council Information Office, an entity of the PRC government, sent an email to a business associate of Ng, containing a draft letter (in Chinese) for Ng to sign or approve. According to a draft translation prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), the letter, which began with Ng introducing himself as a member of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (“CPPCC”), a political advisory body, and as the “Chairman of the Board of the United Nations South South News,” stated in pertinent part:

[quote] my greatest wish is to fairly and objectively report the social development, religion, culture, and ideology of China through the South South News, a global media platform authorized by the UN, to display China’s soft power, counter malicious, distorted news by anti-China forces, and let the whole world hear a true voice that comes from China to understand the real China. . . .

. . . I will select suitable regions in China to establish a South South Cooperation Organization International Conference Center and a South South News Network Media Production Center as a base of operations for South South News.

Hope that the plan to establish two centers and the development of South South News in China can obtain strong support from the government of China. [unquote]

As the Court is aware, South South News, the entity described in the above email, is the conduit through which the Government alleges that defendants Ng and Jeff C. Yin funneled some of their bribe and money laundering payments.”

   So it says South South News was “authorized” by the UN; the prosecution says Ng and Yin used South South News as a conduit for bribery in the UN. And as of July 8, South South News still has its UN official from Ban Ki-moon as Inner City Press while investigating it was evicted and is now restricted to only cover events on the UN Conference Building's second floor -- ECOSOC and the Trusteeship Council Chambers, the General Assembly and General Assembly President's office -- with one of Ban Ki-moon's minders. This is Ban's UN.

From the UN's June 29 transcript:

Inner City Press: Monday down in… in Federal Court, there was a hearing for Mr. Ng Lap Seng in the ongoing case, and Assistant District Attorney [Daniel] Richenthal basically widened the case and said they're going to be… there's more things they're looking at as to Ng Lap Seng, and he also described in more detail a, quote, conduit of bribery taking place within the UN.  And I wanted to know, since you've said you're monitoring it, what is the UN's response to the new information that was presented on Monday?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yeah, we are aware of the latest information, and, as I've pointed out, the situation of South-South News is under review.  It continues to be under review, but certainly, any new information is useful in light of that.

After the above, a corporate news wire which has a conflict of interest on this passed through South South News' claims that it has had "
no connection with any government at any level" - this is false. But the conflicted corporate wire, with its own Permanent seat on the board of hte UN Correspondents Assocation which took money from Ng's South South News, merely passes through the denial. Call it journalism? We'll have more on this.

On June 27, former South South News reporter turned spokesperson for John Ashe and now his family wrote to the UN press corps, some of whom she saw over the weekend:

"Dear Friends and Dear UN and Media Representatives, I am kindly forwarding a Statement from the Family of the late John. W. Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly 68th Session, at the request of his widowed wife, Anilla Cherian.I have accepted to forward this Statement in my personal capacity and in honor of Ambassador Ashe’s legacy as a long-serving diplomat.  I will not be addressing any questions and I do appreciate your understanding.

It was very nice seeing several of you over the weekend. I hope you are all doing well."

If the goal was to distinguish South South News from John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng, this doesn't do it.

The audit deals with South South News - which as of June 27 STILL has a UN office, photo here, UNlike Inner City Press. In Ban's UN one only gets due process if one has money, or pays money, as South South News did, including to the UN Correspondents Association which then gave Ng Lap Seng a photo-op with Ban. Or as the Saudis did to get Ban to remove them from the Yemen Children and Armed Conflict annex.

On June 27 in Federal Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richenthal said that South South News was a conduit for bribery involving the now conveniently (and mysteriously) deceased former PGA John Ashe. (Some with links to Ashe try to erase all trace, but here is one: UNCA with AAshe's spokesperson Konja, formerly of South South News), which one wire-with-a-conflict covering this story never mentions. Compare to this.)



Those with links to dead-under-indictment  (RIP) try to erase links but here's one: UNCA

Meanwhile while Inner City Press can only work with minders, its office given to Akhbar Elyom's correspondent, a former UNCA presdient,  sits empty and Gallach gallavants in Paris. We'll have more on all this.

Ban's audit, notably, does not mention that Ban accepted Ng's South South Award and was in the program of Ng's August 2015 event in Macau.

Nor does Ban's audit mention that his Sri Lanka adviser Vijay Nambiar and his spouse, Ban Soon-taek, were both present at the founding of the Global Sustainability Foundation; the latter took photos with South South News' indicted Vivian Wang at the UN Correspondents Association ball where UNCA gave Ng, from whose South South News it took money, a photo op with Ban himself.

On April 16, at Ban's and his USG Cristina Gallach's direction, Inner City Press' long time UN office in S-303 was evicted and five boxes of files were dumped onto First Avenue. Video here and here.

On April 20, the Free UN Coalition for Access sign on S-303 was removed (photo here) without the consent of Inner City Press' office mate, also a FUNCA member, who was told that the lock was being changed, presumably to sell the office to someone else. Inner City Press immediately objected to MALU, the DSG, Chef de Cabinet and Spokesman, putting them on notice.

And lo and behold it was given to a former UNCA president who never comes to the UN, never asks questions: Saana Youssef of Egyptian state media Akhbar Elyom. This is Ban's UN.

  UNCA, at least under Giampaolo Pioli, openly tells people to pay it money, it can get them UN official space. This is corruption.

  Now since the eviction of Inner City Press, South South News has sent out a press release saying that despite the guilty plea by its President Francis Lorenzo and indictment of its Vice President Vivan Wang, it is clean - and blames its problems on a "few independent journalists." Wonder who's referred to - as the other one(s).

 Not Reuters, which passes through without analysis South South News' press releases - and without disclosing that Reuters' Lou Charbonneau and now Michelle Nichols have occupied Reuters' permanent seat on the Executive Committee of the UN Correspondents Association, which took South South News' money then arranged a photo op for Ng Lap Seng with Ban Ki-moon.

  South South News' founding is described in the John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng indictment; it is portrayed through gauze in the OIOS audit. The name South South News has appeared in the Panama Papers.

  
Inner City Press on January 29 sought to cover an UNCA event held in the UN Press Briefing Room, which was nowhere listed as closed.  On February 19 Gallach, without recusing herself, unilaterally deactivated Inner City Press UN residential correspondents pass, and had Inner City Press' reporter physically thrown out on First Avenue without coat or passport. Audio here.

  This is called retaliation. On the afternoon of April 12, Inner City Press while with another colleague asked Ban about Gallach's orders.

  "That is not my decision," Ban said quickly. He is aware; the ouster and censorship serve him, but he says it is not his decision, just as for example Sri Lanka's Mahinda Rajapaksa or higher profile censors might.

  On the evening of April 12 Gallach ordered the final eviction of all of Inner City Press' investigative files on Saturday, April 16 at 10 am. This is the face of today's UN corruption.



Here is some of what the OIOS audit says, about USG Gallach:

"37. On 30 June 2015, Global Sustainability Foundation sponsored an exhibition titled “The Transformative Power of Art” in the visitors’ lobby at United Nations Headquarters. This exhibition was curated by an Italian artist, whose works were displayed along with the works of other artists participating in one of his workshops.

38. Exhibitions in publicly accessible areas at Headquarters are governed by the Secretary General’s Bulletin ST/SGB/2008/6, which stipulates, inter alia, as follows:

(a) The United Nations Exhibits Committee, which is an interdepartmental body of the Secretariat chaired by the Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information [Cristina Gallach] is the standing body that reviews and authorizes such exhibitions;

(b) Any proposal originating from an NGO or foundation must be accompanied by a written communication of support from a Secretariat department or office, a separately administered organ or programme of the United Nations, an organization of the United Nations system or a permanent or observer mission to the United Nations;

(c) Exhibit proposals focusing on a specific individual, or originating from a single artist, shall not be permitted;

(d) The Exhibits Committee may, at its discretion, reject a proposal for an exhibit in part or in its entirety, or require the elimination or alteration of any part thereof; and

(e) The secretariat of the Exhibits Committee shall inform the Assistant Secretary General, Office of Central Support Services, of the authorization granted for a proposed exhibit.39. OIOS noted that the exhibition held of 30 June 2015 was not in compliance with these provisions. The Exhibits Committee did not authorize the exhibition because it did not receive a proposal in accordance with (b) above. The Chef de Cabinet of the Office of the President of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly informed the Exhibits Committee of the President’s decision to host a series of major cultural events, which included an exhibition, reception, and concert. The Committee informed the Office of the President that the exhibition was not in accordance with the regulations for exhibits in publicly accessible areas at Headquarters, but the Office of the President decided to proceed with the exhibition anyway. Therefore, the Exhibits Committee did not accept, reject or alter the “proposal”.

40. OIOS notes that the Exhibits Committee only had an advisory role in the matter, and in the circumstances described, it could not have possibly prevented the staging of the event. However, considering that the exhibition was attended by the Secretary-General and other senior Secretariat staff despite its non-compliance with the Secretary-General’s bulletin on exhibits, the perception that the NGO was given preferential treatment or favour (that too without performing any due diligence checks) could have an adverse impact on the Organization’s reputation. This risk is aggravated by the allegations in the criminal complaint against Sun Kian Ip group, with whom this NGO is affiliated."

While Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric has said this audit will not be made public until April 22, on April 6 as a full text exclusive Inner City Press published the audit while noting affiliates the UN audit omitted, and portions of the audit that some involved seem to be trying to cover up, including not only as to the Department of Public Information, but also the Global Compact and other back-doors into the UN, including but not limited to "Friends of the UN."

  Beyond the Under Secretary General of the Department of Public Information's responsibility for exhibits in the Visitor's Lobby such as the one indicted Sheri Yan's Global Sustainability Foundation held on June 30, 2015, she was also in charge when GSF was allowed, without any due diligence, to on March 25, 2015 sponsor an event entitled "Unveiling of the 'Ark of Return' Permanent Memorial." Audit at Paragraph 20 (b).

  Inner City Press asked the UN about DPI's engagement with the Global Sustainability Foundation around the Ark of Return in October 2015. To be diplomatic, this should have led to / required a recusal.

   DPI, the audit says, was "associated" with Ng Lap Seng's and Frank Liu's World Harmony Foundation through something called the "Friends of the UN" based in Los Angeles / Santa Monica. We'll have more on this.

  As Inner City Press demonstrated even before publishing the audit, the Global Compact as of April 2016 lists Ng's World Harmony Foundation as a member, despite the October 2015 indictments.

  Now we note that the Global Compact, represented at Ng's Macau event in August 2015, has a representative who because not a UN staff member kept the iPad Ng's Sun Kian Ip foundation gifted. What kind of "anti corruption" UN Global Compact is this?

On April 11, after publishing the above, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, and when Ban will answer questions. Video hereUN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  on this OIOS inquiry, I want to ask you something.  One of the entities controlled by Mr. Ng Lap Seng is World Harmony Foundation.  I don’t know if it was you or Farhan [Haq] last week that said it’s still a member of the Global Compact, but it also seems to partner with DPI (Department of Public Information) is associated through something called Friends of the United Nations, which seems to be based in Santa Monica, California.  It’s a little unclear.  Can you say, is this one of the ground balls that you guys are going to be running down, in terms of what other groups enter through that way?  Also, what explains World Harmony Foundation six months after the indictment still being part of the Global Compact?  And one other Global Compact question.  The audit specifically says that, of the iPads given out at the Macau event in August, the representative of the Global Compact has not returned it, said that he’s not going to return it.  He’s not a staff member and he’s keeping it.  It’s right in the audit.  And so I wanted to know, since the Global Compact said it’s about transparency, anticorruption, is this okay?  And why isn’t he a staff member if he’s representing the Global Compact?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I don’t know.  That’s a question you should… in terms of World Harmony, whether or not they’re still a member, is a question you can ask of the Global Compact.  Obviously, as we said, the audit is an initial step, and other issues are being pursued.

Inner City Press:  But are they going… I mean, I guess Global Compact, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), are they going to hold a press conference?

Spokesman Dujarric:  You should ask them.  They have press people, like the Secretariat, and they’re there to answer questions.

Inner City Press:  And the Secretary-General, you said he’ll be in the room tomorrow, but he won’t speak.  Looking at the list of press conferences, it seems like the last one was December of last year…

Spokesman:  He will have… there will be some sort of a press conference… there will be a press conference, probably on Friday, tied to the climate event.

  Climate of corruption, some say.

To be diplomatic, on April 8 this is what Inner City Press asked Dujarric, video hereUN transcript here:

Inner City Press: this OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] audit, I obtained it, published it and I want to ask just for today, two specific questions about it.  One is, it talks about funds going to this thing called UNPAN, which I've heard of, but it seems to be pretty obscure.  And in looking at its website, it claims to be publishing articles they say were published in December 2016, which hasn't actually occurred yet.  So, there's something a little… What's been done on the recommendations as to… to UNPAN and the use of its name by the entities that were audited....

Spokesman:  The recommend… the audit, I think, as all of you have seen now, includes recommendations and includes the status of those recommendations, and we're following through with them.

Inner City Press: I'd asked Farhan [Haq] yesterday about the 30 June 2015 event in the Visitor's Lobby, which has a section of the whole audit about DPI [Department of Public Information] being in charge of it, not doing it.  I want to ask you about another event, which was 25 March, this unveiling of the Ark of Return permit memorial, which they said was no due diligence done of the Global Sustainability Foundation.  It seems like, in this audit, they make these two findings about DPI, these two events, but it's only looking at it, I guess, institutionally.  As I've asked you, when Global Sustainability Foundation was founded in this building, a senior adviser of the Secretary-General and his spouse were present…

Spokesman:  I mean, I think…

Inner City Press:  Does this audit look at individuals or only entities…?

Spokesman:  The audit looks at… looked at the systems.  When there are issues related to individuals, further investigations are being done.

Inner City Press:  Right.  But, it seems like they only mention the individuals that were in the criminal complaint.  There was nothing…

Spokesman:  You know, the audit… I think the audit speaks for itself and outlines how we're following up with it.

 There is a need for follow up.

  The audit cites Ng's Interntional Organization for South South Cooperation's engagements with, or capture of, the UN agency UNPAN, the UN Public Administration Network. A visit on April 8, 2016 to UNPAN's website finds them featuring articles they say were publishd in December 2016 - that is, in the future. Ironically, the article(s) address the topic of corruption. That is today's UN.

   The audit for example does purport to cover South South News, but not the big money South South Awards held in September 2015 at the Waldorf Astoria including the Under Secretary General of the Department of Public Information (DPI) Cristina Gallach.

   (Inner City Press in October 2015 questioned Ms. Gallach about her participation in the South South Awards, video here. On February 19, 2016 Gallach ordered Inner City Press to leave its long time office and stripped its Resident Correspondent accreditation, without once speaking to it. This is the subject of an April 5 letter to Ban Ki-moon from the Government Accountability Project, demanding that this “crude and heavy handed” retaliation be reversed, watch this site.)

 On April 7, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq a first round of questions about some of the limitations of the audio, video here,


UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I've now obtained and published this OIOS audit of selected NGOs and related entity that you said will come out on 22 April.  And there's different things I want to ask you about it, but main thing I want to ask about is, there's an entire section that runs from paragraph 37 through paragraph 40 that it's about an exhibit they say was improperly held in the Visitor's Lobby on 30 June 2015.  And it goes through a lot of detail, and it says that the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Public Information is in charge of the exhibits committee and, I guess, in charge of the space.  And somehow, this exhibit was held in violation of a number of the rules that apply to it.  What I'm wondering is, what is the response?  Obviously, it seems like you guys have had access to this audit even before it was sent to Member States.  What is the thinking… the way they walk through it is they say… it seems strange. If she's in charge of the space and the exhibit took place without complying with the rules, what is the response to her responsibility for that?  And what steps have been taken?  The audit doesn't say that any steps have yet been taken to address that.

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Well, with regard to the specific cases referred to in the audit, actions being taken to determine responsibility and any follow-up and any measures that may be deemed appropriate.  And so, we'll continue to study that.

Inner City Press:  And who decides? In getting the audit, there obviously is a long section about South-South News, but I noticed that a related entity of which there's been a lot of coverage is South-South Awards.  And it's unclear, it's not mentioned once in here.  And this is something that… I mean, the Secretary-General received the South-South Award.  This is an entity that's absolutely connected to Ng Lap Seng and Frank Lorenzo et al.  So, the question is, who… maybe that's OIOS, but who decided on the scope of this audit, the date that it would start, 1 January 2012, and the exclusion of… of… one of the things that people covering this scandal have focused on are these glitzy events in the Waldorf.  The Under-Secretary-General of DPI did attend in September, but prior to that, Ms. [Susana] Malcorra took an award for Ban [Ki-moon].  Why is this not in the audit?  And will there be an audit of South-South Awards going forward?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  I think the audit is what it is.  It's prepared by the professional people in the Office of Internal Oversight who deal with audits.  And you can evaluate the results for yourself.

Inner City Press:  And just one other thing I wanted to ask about, because I know I'd asked Stéphane [Dujarric] and you, going back to October, about the inclusion of South-South News content in UN Television archives.  And, eventually, you came back with this answer that it was due to Habitat.  And I just… I've pointed out to you that there's a number of things that have nothing to do with Habitat, a number of inclusions that you just search UNTV for "South-South News".  But, I do notice in this audit that there is a reference to South-South News and Habitat.  So, I wanted to know, was this finding that you said of people looking into how it got in there, was it basically just taken from reading the audit, or was there a… a… a… an analysis, either by your office or DPI, of how the many other inclusions of South-South News and UNTV archives took place?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, our office had checked with DPI.  That was prior to us knowing about the results of the audit.

   Similarly, using timing as a basis of omission, by stopping the audit at January 1, 2012, OIOS did not address the issue of Ng's South South News getting a photo op directly with Ban Ki-moon in December 2011 at the UN Correspondents Association ball at Cipriani's 42nd Street after giving money to UNCA including for a two page ad spread in UNCA's “ball book.”

  While Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq allowed four UNCA board members from Reuters, France 24 and Agence France Presse to seek to rebut this including by directly addressing Inner City Press in the noon briefing on April 6, the cut-off at January 1, 2012 is problematic, especially as related to Ban Ki-moon himself.

  The audit goes out of its way to say that Ban's Executive Office of the Secretary General did not know when a letter to it was modified to add the name of Ng's firm and of South South News. How is that possible? And again, why was Ban's direct dealing with Ng cut out from the audit by a matter of days?

   Many of the irregularities in the audit are things first reported by Inner City Press, such as  Yan's Global Sustainability Foundation funding the UN's slavery memorial, including an engagement with Gallach's DPI which even the audit criticizes while DPI tries to deny.

  Undeniable is that Gallach chaired the UN Exhibits Committee which allowed the bogus “Transformative Power of Art” exhibit on June 30, 2015.

   How does Gallach's no due process ouster of Inner City Press on February 19, 2016, when Inner City Press was thrown into the street and its laptop on the sidewalk by eight UN guards, look now that the audit is out? Even with the audit inexplicably omitting the South South Awards -- Ban Ki-moon got one of the awards -- the audit chides DPI for lack of due diligence for its slavery event, and Gallach as chair of the Exhibit Committee which allowed the Jun 30, 2015 “Transformative Power of Art” exhibit.

  Gallach, who was questioned by Inner City Press about her role at the South South Awards with Frank Lorenzo, had a conflict of interest and should never have been near the decision to thrown Inner City Press out of the UN.

 That decision must be reversed, as the Government Accountability Project has asked Ban, even before Inner City Press published the specifics of the audit.

Courthouse News Service of April 6 reports on GAP's first letter:

"The Government Accountability Project complained about Lee's fallout in a Feb. 26 letter to the U.S. Permanent Mission of the United Nations.
     'The action targeted Matthew Lee alone, and appears to be retaliatory in response to independent, critical journalism,' wrote Beatrice Edwards, the project's international program director.
     UNCA, the group whose meeting Lee got in trouble for recording, has denied the appearance of unfairness. 'UNCA stands for press freedom and vehemently defends rights of journalists at the UN and around the world,' the statement says."

  Really? Where? It was the Free UN Coalition for Access asking this month about the UN requiring minders, not only in UN Headquarters but also in South Sudan. The Courthouse News continues:

"Lee blasted what he described as 'post-hoc' justifications for his ouster, which he compared to a Franz Kafka novel. 'Initially, they tried to say that I secretly filmed a closed meeting,' he said.
'That's fallen apart because the meeting wasn't recorded as closed.' Lee laughed off allegations that he entered a restricted area to secretly film the meeting, which he broadcast via a popular web-casting platform. 'It's hard to say that a Periscope live-streaming with my arms up is secret,' he said.

     By downgrading his residential correspondent credentials to a second-tier status, the U.N. has restricted Lee's freedom of movement, forced him to be chaperoned by a minder."

  That's right, a UN minder courtesy of UN Communications chief Cristina Gallach and ultimately, Ban Ki-moon. In terms of violations, and cover up, see Paragraphs 37 through 40 of the OIOS audit.


   Inner City Press on April 5 asked if Ng's World Harmony Foundation is still part of the UN Global Compact; deputy spokesperson Haq said he would check but never came back with an answer. On April 6 Inner City Press asked again and Haq said yes - now we see it is confirmed and criticized in the audit.

   Worse while Inner City Press from October 2015 on asked Dujarric and Haq how South South News got its content in the UNTV archives run by Gallach's DPI, Haq belatedly mentioned only one use, connected to HABITAT. Now we see the HABITAT - South South News interaction is listed in the audit, which it seems Haq consulted before answering (and whatever else he did with the audit).

  But why didn't OIOS look into South South News' OTHER inclusions in DPI's archives of UNTV? Watch this site.

Another question, now more poignant with the full audit online, is why the wire services reporters from Reuters and Agence France Presse, on the Executive Committee of the UN Correspondents Association which took Ng's South South News' money and then gave Ng a photo op with Ban Ki-moon, didn't even MENTION that DPI, their partner in censorship, was listed and criticized in the audit.

 Not only the South South Awards, but the the Gallach-approved bogus exhibition criticized in detail in the audit is nowhere in their reports. Hence the April 6 threat and April 6 noon briefing, video here. We'll have more on this

ICP Asks IMF About Its Egypt's Program and Human Rights, IMF Ignores like Questions on Guinea Bissau & G77



By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 8 -- When the International Monetary Fund held its biweekly briefing on December 8, Inner City Press submitted a number of questions, about Egypt:

"In Egypt, is it the IMF's understanding that none of the first tranche will be used to pay off old loans? Also, any comment on the arrest of Azza Soliman, amid the crackdown on civil society and the media?"

  IMF Spokesman Gerry Rice lumped most of the online questions together - with the exception of Reuters, which he named in order to offer a defense of “Madame Lagarde” - and on Egypt's recent tariff increases said these are NOT part of the IMF's program.

 Rice blamed the tariff increases, rather, on the World Trade Organization. He added that the IMF's staff report and other documents should be released very soon, in the next few days. We'll have more on that.

   Rice did not answer, or even take, these Inner City Press questions:

On Guinea-Bissau, by when does the IMF expect authorities to entirely unwind the bailouts of Banco da Africa Ocidental and Banco da União?

At the UN the Group of 77 and China has said of the IMF that “a new quota formula is needed that further shifts quota shares to developing countries while protecting the quota share of the poorest countries.” Does MD Lagarde agree?

  We'll have more on this - and, we hope, on the World Bank - in the near future.

Back on October 27, Inner City Press asked three questions including:

"On Yemen, what is the IMF's view and monitoring of President Hadi's action to move the Central Bank to Aden, including impact on the humanitarian situation?"

IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice read out the question and then said moving the bank is complicated, that the bank has done a good job. Beyond the Vine video of complete answer here.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Among with UN Impunity, Its Censorship Inconsistent With NY Law and Values


By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 6 -- When Mayor Bill de Blasio's Commissioner for International Affairs Penny Abeywardena took questions about the United Nations' impact on New York City on December 6, there was an initial joke about parking tickets, as if that would be the extent of issues New Yorkers might care about. 
But while the City's study enumerates people directly employed by the UN Community, their lack of labor and other rights due to immunity was not acknowledged in the study.
   Inner City Press covers both the UN and its headquarters city, New York, and routinely receives complaints from diplomats' domestic workers and drivers about work place abuse and lack of benefits, and the lack of any recourse. Due to immunity, not only defrauded workers but those subject to physical abuse are left without rights. 
  Inner City Press asked Abeywardena what the de Blasio administration proposes to do about that - for example, diplomat Joachim Haubrichs punched his wife Henna Johnson, 35, in the face and was not subject to arrest at all. Abeywardena said, in essence, that Johnson could get counseling. UN Video.
   What about the UN having brought cholera to Haiti and killed 10,000 people, leaving sorrow and economic harm in many New York City communities - does the de Blasio administration have a position on that? Abeywardena did not answer, leaving the question for the UN moderator Cristina Gallach.
    But Gallach, as mentioned even in the New York Times, is responsible for the ouster and eviction of the investigative Press from the UN, and its confinement to minders to cover events on the UN's second floor for the past nine months and for the foreseeable future. 
Gallach is giving Inner City Press' longtime shared UN office to an Egyptian state media, Akhbar al Yom, which rarely comes into the UN and never asks any questions.
    Abeywardena answered Inner City Press' second round of questions by saying the City works with the UN on such issues as testing for Legionnaires Disease - something legally required for (other) buildings in New York.   
We question whether the City administration is doing or should do anything to ensure that the UN lives up to the basic principles, applicable right outside the UN's gates, of press freedom and due process.
Gallach's pretext for throwing Inner City Press out and restricting it since was Inner City Press' attempt to cover an event in the same UN Press Briefing Room on January 29, as part of its coverage of the ongoing Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case set for trial in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in January 2017. 
Inner City Press left the briefing room - which had no “closed” sign on it - as soon as a single UN Security officer said to, at the request of UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric. But three weeks later, without once speaking with Inner City Press, Gallach ordered it out on two hours notice.
  When Inner City Press was physically thrown out onto First Avenue on Gallach's orders on February 19, 2016 (audio here) and its laptop thrown onto the sidewalk, it called the New York Police Department, which said it had no recourse at all, the UN controls even the sidewalk in front of it. 

While the UN certain does some good work, is this censorship and impunity something New Yorkers should be represented as supporting? We'll have more on this.