Monday, October 31, 2016

Inner City Press Asks Why Some UN Rapporteurs Consider Impact of Sanctions, But Not Keetharuth On Eritrea

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 28 -- When the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the State of Eritrea Sheila Keetharuth held a press conference at the UN on October 28, Inner City Press went to ask her if she considered the impact of sanctions on Eritrea. Video here.  She answered only in terms of arms embargo, they said she simply chose not to look at the issue.

   By contrast, the Rapporteur on the Democratic People Republic of Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana answered detailed questions from Inner City Press about sanctions including unilateral sanctions on coal sales, for example. Is there no consistency between UN Special Rapporteurs? Video here.
There were only three journalists asking questions at the October 28 press conference - and yet Inner City Press was earlier this year by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his head of "Public Information" Cristina Gallach ousted and evicted, and now restricted to a minder. Petition here.

On October 3, the day before the UN General Assembly's Third (Human Rights) Committee began, Inner City Press' sources told it of a behind-the-scene fight about presenting a report on Eritrea by a Commission of Inquiry whose mandate has expired.

One source said, “How can a dead man be allowed to testify?” But powerful countries want it to happen, so Ban Ki-moon's UN and its (lawless) Office of Legal Affairs have become prepared to oblige. The UN is about power, not law.

Update of October 4: After publication of the above, on October 4 while Djibouti asked to have the defunct Commission included, the chair of the Committee, Colombia, said the Office of Legal Affairs would meet with both sides. Watch this site.

  Less surprising is the US State Department blocking an Eritrean appearance in DC, like it blocked a proposed UN Security Council side-visit, below. Recently Inner City Press asked the UN's Representative to Somalia Michael Keating is he was aware of any evidence of Eritrea supporting Al Shabaab, and he said no. But that's no longer the point. We'll have more on this.

Back in April 2016 while the Security Council discussed Somalia, behind the scene the next president of the Council for May, Egypt, proposed a Council trip to Somalia, Egypt, and at least initially Eritrea, Inner City Press is exclusively told.

But the US balked at the inclusion of Eritrea and it was dropped.

In the Council chamber, UN envoy to Somalia Michael Keating said   “Last week, Somali leaders from all federal member states and interim regional administrations reach agreement on the electoral model to be used later this year. Voting will take place not just in Mogadishu, but in each of the capitals or seats of government of the exiting and emerging federal member states. And thirty percent of the seats in Parliament are being reserved for women.
  “This progress is taking place amid great insecurity - another reason why progress is reversible. Al Shabab remains a potent threat. Although facing significant casualties, Al Shabab continues to carry out repeated asymmetic and conventional attacks. They will try to disrupt an electoral process that they see rightly as threatening their agenda.”

  The proposed trip would have included Eritrea not only because it is on the Council's sanctions list, even amid admissions of no proof of support to Al Shabab, but also because of Yemen and regional peace and security. But the US, the sources tell Inner City Press, does not want a Council trip to include Eritrea. We'll have more on this.