Monday, December 5, 2016

As Gambia's Jammeh Shuts Internet, Canned Ban Statement, Silent on Targeting

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 1 – As in Gambia Yahya Jammeh moved to shut off the Internet (and Viber, etc) for the / his election, there is again a deafening silence from the UN of Ban Ki-moon and his “communications” chief Cristina Gallach. 
On December 1, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press:  today's election day in Gambia, and it has been widely reported the internet has been turned off, and no international calls are being allowed.  I know that the DPA [Department of Political Affairs] had some involvement previously or tried to have some involvement in Gambia.  What is the position on the UN? On the election generally, the President has said he'll stay in until Allah says differently, but also on the turning off of the internet to an entire country…

Spokesman:  Well, I think it's… we would like to see, as we would like to see anywhere, freedom of access to information, including freedom of access through the internet.  We're obviously watching the developments in the Gambia very closely, and then we'll have probably a bit more to say later on.

ICP Question:  How are you watching it if the internet's turned off?

Spokesman:  We do have a country office that's there.

ICP Question:  A related as to internet question, in Qatar, access to something called Doha News, which reports about Qatar, has been blocked in the country.  And I wanted to know… you might say just the same thing, but do you see this also --

Spokesman:  Let me check on those reports. 
 Six hours later, nothing. Meanwhile Gallach has most recently complained about the “difficult” role of social media in the November 8 U.S. election -- as she has evictedInner City Press, given its office to an Egyptian state media which never comes in, and restricts Inner City Press to minders.
   Even so-restricted on November 30, Inner City Press followed, if only from the small “focus booth” to which it's been reduced by Gallach's and Ban's censorship, a debate elsewhere in the UN in which Access Now - click here for their joint letter on Gambia - cited investigative journalism and UN Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Expression David Kaye. 
  Kaye and his colleague on human rights defenders Michel Forst wrote to Gallach about her no due process eviction of Inner City Press. Her response implied there was a physical fight, of which there was none, only Inner City Press stated it would leave a widely attended event in the UN Press Briefing Room once it was shown it was Closed or if UN Security said to. 
Ban's and Gallach's UN is one of censorship, and for now they are silent on Gambia. Others aren't - watch this site.