By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 26 – After the Committee to Project Journalists came to the UN for a meeting on the 38th floor on February 23, Inner City Press asked CPJ's Joel Simon for a summary of what had been raised. "Not yet," Simon said, as one of his escorts told Inner City Press to back away. Tweeted video here.
It was a typical UN scene: a group promoting a principle outside of the UN not pursuing it inside the UN, in order to maintain access and perceived influence. So was the UN's lack of due process for the Press, noted for example by Special Rapporteurs Kaye and Forst, here, raised or addressed? Now on May 26 CPJ has announced a new board chair, Kathleen Carroll formerly of AP, who tellingly has a locked / private Twitter account, @redheadkxc. How's that for Press Freedom?
At the February 24 UN noon briefing after UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric made claims about the UN's commitment to freedom of the press, Inner City Press asked him for a read-out of Guterres' meeting with CPJ et al. Dujarric did not provide one; he refused to answer the question about due process, telling Inner City Press "This is not your living room." Video here, Vine Camera here.
Moments later, as Inner City Press asked Dujarric about a leaked UN Peacekeeping letter it exclusively published earlier in the day and which contradicts what Dujarric had said on the record on February 23, Dujarric simply ran off the podium and out of the briefing room. And the UNTV clip, as "produced" by UN DPI, cuts the audio mid question, here at end. This is the UN's commitment to responsiveness, due process and freedom of the press.
At the UN for journalists, there is no law, no due process, no appeal. And when CPJ reported on the killing of journalists, it omitted a journalist killed right under the UN's nose in South Sudan, John Gatluak (Inner City Press reported it here: CPJ mentioned only Syria and the Middle East in its press release. And in its count of journalists killed in 2016, CPJ does not count for example South Sudan journalist John Gatluak, executed in the Terrain in Juba.
The United Nations' Cammaert / cover up report on its failures in Terrain also does not mention Gatluak. It's like the UN Censorship Alliance. Click here for video of Inner City Press' live-Periscope camera being grabbed, thrown and smashed by "journalists" on December 16 on Wall Street. Who watches the watchers?
It is the same as groups speechifying about accountability not holding the UN to task for killing 10,000 Haitians with cholera, nor for the lack of prosecutions for peacekeepers' sexual abuse. The UN talks about the rule of law but does not abide by it.
CPJ, including Simon and his deputy Robert Mahoney, were informed in detail of the UN's lack of due process for the press - but they have done nothing. One year ago, covering the UN corruption scandals which have resulted in two sets of indictments for bribery involving the UN, Inner City Press was ordered to leave the UN Press Briefing Room by then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Other correspondents were allowed to stay in the briefing room, which Dujarric had "lent" them. But he insisted that Inner City Press leave. Video here.
Inner City Press asked to see any paperwork that the event was closed; none was provided. Inner City Press stated that if a single UN Security official asked it to leave, it would. Finally one guard came and said Dujarric wanted it to leave.
Inner City Press immediately left, uploaded the already live-streamed Periscope video, and continued digging into the corruption that's resulted in the indictment for bribery and money laundering of Ban Ki-moon's brother Ban Ki Sang and nephew Dennis Bahn.
But three weeks afterward, without a single conversation or opportunity to be heard, Ban's Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach ordered Inner City Press to leave the UN, after ten years, on two hours notice. Order here.
This was enforced, as Inner City Press worked on its laptop at the UN Security Council stakeout, by eight UN Security officers led by Deputy Chief McNulty, who tore Inner City Press accreditation badge off its chest and said, "Now you are a trespasser." Audio here.
Inner City Press was marched down the escalator and around the UN traffic circle, without even its coat which was up in its longtime office. It was pushed out of the gate and its laptop, in a bag, was thrown on the sidewalk and damaged.
The next work day when Inner City Press arranged for a fellow journalist to sign it in as a guest so it could cover the Security Council, UN Security official Matthew Sullivan said it was Banned from UN premises worldwide. Audio here.
After three days covering the UN from the park in front in the sleet, and articles like this one, Inner City Press re-entered with a "non-resident correspondents" pass - to which it is still, more than eleven months later, confined.
The then-US Mission under Samantha Power and Isobel Coleman, even petitioned by the DC-based Government Accountability Project, did nothing. Indirectly, a offer was made of an upgraded pass if Inner City Press would agree to a gag order, to which it would not and will not agree.
There has been no UN opportunity for appeal or reinstatement. After having five boxes of Inner City Press' investigative files thrown on the sidewalk in April, Gallach is giving its office to an Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom which rarely comes in, a correspondent Sanaa Youssef who had yet to ask a single question.
Her only claim is that she was once, decades ago, a president of the United Nations Correspondents Association, the group to which Duajrric "lent" the UN Press Briefing Room, without notice or written record, on January 29, 2016.
Even as the scope of Ban Ki-moon's corruption is being exposed upon his return to South Korea, here, his successor Antonio Guterres has yet to reverse this year of censorship and no due process. On January 6 Dujarric and Gallach led him on a tour of... the UN Correspondents Association, which now wants him again in their clubhouse. (More on this to follow.)
On January 27 as Inner City Press moved to cover Guterres at the UN's Holocaust event, it was targeted by UN Security and told it could not proceed without a minder, who did not appear for over 15 minutes.
The harassment continued through the day, as Inner City Press exposed more corruption, including involving Jeffrey Feltman (Dujarric told ICP its questioning was "despicable"), and the use of military contingents involved in war crimes in Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping, as criticized by new US Ambassador Nikki Haley.
All of this must change - but hasn't yet, in 145 days of the "new" UN Secretary General CPJ met with in February, Antonio Guterres. This is a scam, and censorship: the UN's Censorship Alliance. We will have more on this.