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June 18, 2018

On Cameroon Inner City Press Asked of UN DSS Staff in Buea and UN Says UNaware of Reports

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, II, Q&A

UNITED NATIONS, June 14 – Amid the worsening crackdown by the army of 36-year Cameroon president Paul Biya in the country's Anglophone areas (June 12 UK comment below), in April a video circulated depicting soldiers burning down homes. Click here for one upload of it. Noted by many residents and activists: blue helmet of the type used by UN peacekeepers. On April 30 Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the video, the day after publishing a story about it, in Google News. April 30 Q&A video here; transcript below. On June 13, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, Video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you about Cameroon.  I was just listening to what Mr. Fall said and I just wonder, it seemed... on Monday, a report was put out by Amnesty International detailing in some detail first-hand accounts of torture, burning of villages, murder of suspects.  So, I just… one, can he do a stakeout?  Is he… if he's the Secretary-General's envoy on the region…?  Number two… and I say it because…

Spokesman:  We can ask.  As you know, he hasn't been to… in Cameroon in some time, but we'll ask.

Inner City Press:  Right.  Other Council members praised his engagement.  I wanted to ask you that.  There's no engagement that you haven't announced from here?

Spokesman:  Not that I'm aware of.  I'm not hiding any engagement.

Inner City Press:  Right.  So, I mean, is the Secretary-General satisfied with not necessarily the performance of Mr. Fall, but with the engagement of the Government, given an Amnesty International report detailing the torching of villages…?

Spokesman:  I think we have expressed and we'll continue to express our concern about the developments in the area.

Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask… you may not know, but photos have come out of UNDSS [United Nations Department of Safety and Security] personnel in Buea, which is a town in Anglophone Cameroon, quite a few of them.  And… and I'm… so people don't know what they're doing there.  This goes back to the… sort of distrust from the Blue Helmet at one of the torching sites.  Is there some way you can find out… if there's some… is there some engagement taking place?

Spokesman:  I'll find out." A full day later, nothing. Dujarric was spotted watching the World Cup in the UN Delegates Lounge bar, bt he did not do the UN's June 14 briefing. So Inner City Press asked his deputy Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Dujarric] yesterday had said… I'd asked him a pretty… pretty straightforward questions, that there… there are photos circulating.  Many people in Anglophone Cameroon are concerned about it, of several… a team of UNDSS [Department of Safety and Security] personnel in Buea at the Mountain Hotel in blue t-shirts.  What is the purpose of that deployment?

Deputy Spokesman:  Regarding that, we've asked our colleagues in the Department of Safety and Security.  They're actually unaware of what these reports are, but they are following up." How?

June 11, 2018

On Cameroon UK Told Inner City Press Monitoring But Brags Of New Age Oil Deal

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, II

UNITED NATIONS, June 8 – Amid the worsening crackdown by the army of 36-year Cameroon president Paul Biya in the country's Anglophone areas, in April a video circulated depicting soldiers burning down homes. Click here for one upload of it. Noted by many residents and activists: blue helmet of the type used by UN peacekeepers. On April 30 Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the video, the day after publishing a story about it, in Google News. April 30 Q&A video here; transcript below. Why hasn't the UN Security Council had a single meeting about the government's killings in Cameroon, specifically in the former British Southern Cameroons? Previous UK ambassador Matthew Rycroft, and now his successors, tell Inner City Press the UK continues to monitor the issue, even as the UK denied in full Inner City Press' request for documents under the UK Freedom of Information Act, and the UK Mission to the UN siddles up only to the media which don't ask them about the issue. Now this outrage: the UK is bragging about a big natural gas deal with Paul Biya's government, through a London based company called New Age. Minister Liam Fox "announced today a deal worth more than £1.5 billion had been secured by a UK company to deliver natural gas project in Cameroon." More detailed, "Following Trade Minister, Baroness Fairhead’s, meeting with Minister Secretary General Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, London based oil and gas company, New Age, and the Cameroon Government have agreed a deal which will see the development of a floating natural gas project in Cameroon utilising the offshore Etinde gas field. The project is of huge importance to the African country, who will be able to ramp up their gas export operation, in turn generating a huge revenue stream for the public treasury, whilst also helping to develop offshore infrastructure in support of future local power generation." This is on the website, here. We'll have more on this. On June 7, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you this.  It has to do with Cameroon.  It's reported that Samuel Eto’o, the football player, as a UN Goodwill Ambassador, will be touring with Government officials [in] the Anglophone areas trying to encourage people to either go back to school or stop protesting, and so there's a lot of pushback against him.  And I wanted to know, one, when's the last time Mr. [Francois Lounceny] Fall was in the area?  Maybe you have it or could find it out… I want to compare.

Spokesman:  No, I mean there's nothing more than what is publicly known.

Inner City Press:  Would Samuel Eto’o’s trip, if it takes place — he's in Yaoundé — would it be as a UN Goodwill Ambassador?  And, if so, what would you say to the…?

Spokesman:  I have to check what his status is and who he actually worked for.

Inner City Press:  Well, people are saying that he's said nothing about this crisis the whole time…

Spokesman:  No, no, I'm not debating you. I just have to see what… the details.

Inner City Press:  Can you… okay.  I'd appreciate an answer on that." But 23 hours later, nothing. Dujarric waited until the June 8 noon briefing, when he read out: "I was asked yesterday about a visit, I think by you Matthew, by [football star] Samuel Eto’o to Anglophone Cameroon.  UNICEF has told us that this was a private visit to Cameroon, and that this was done completely outside his role as UNICEF National Goodwill Ambassador." Video here. We'll see.
June 4, 2018

As North Korea's Kim Yong Chol Heads to DC, Pompeo Cites 72 Hours of Progress in Presser

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, Scope

UNITED NATIONS, May 31 – On the much discussed North Korea - US talks, US President Donald Trump on May 29 tweeted, "Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York." On May 30 just before 7 pm Kim Yong Chol and security, as well as at least one staffer from the US Mission to the UN, exited the Millennium Hilton hotel on 44th Street across from the UN and piled into a series of black cars, pursued by media. See 2 minutes and 20 seconds of Inner City Press' Periscope feed, here. They drove to 330 East 38th Street, the Corinthian Condominium where many war crimes linked diplomats have lived and the US leases a condo for its deputy ambassador; they dined for 1 hour and 26 minutes on "American beef." On May 31 after a two and a half hour meeting at the Corinthian, Pompeo held a short press conference at the Lotte Palace Hotel at 2:15 pm. Inner City Press arrived as required at 1:15 pm; there was a full stand up by Fox then another cut short by someone's ring tone. Periscope video here. Pompeo took four questions (Bloomberg, WSJ, ABC and Fox) and was upbeat but declined to entirely confirm the June 12 talks are on. Why could he, if another statement like those on Bolton and Pence could get it called off again? Looks like it's a go. Will UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (again out of town until May 31, when he canceled the press Q&A he had scheduled) try to make himself relevant? Seems not. On travel ban exemptions, the UN Security Council website as Inner City Press exclusively reported is to be run by the "self employed" husband of the chief of staff of the Department of Political Affairs. The Dutch have a role in this website, DPA whistleblowers tell Inner City Press. We'll have more on this. Back on May 24 Trump wrote to Kim Jong Un, "based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting." Simultaneously, UN Secretary General put out a statement - praising North Korea for destruction of an already played out testing site. The UN under Guterres remains out of date, irrelevant and worse.May 28, 2018

After UN Discloses Rape Case in Mali, Inner City Press About Accountability, Cut Off, Guterres May 29

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video here, Vine here

UNITED NATIONS, May 25 -- UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says he has a "zero tolerance" policy for sexual harassment, and for retaliation. But when Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on March 15 about Michel Sidibé's reported threats of retaliatory investigations against those making and offering support to sexual harassment complaints at UNAIDS, Haq said this is entire a matter for UNAIDS. Earlier Inner City Press story here; exclusive publication of whistleblowers' international condemnation of retaliation and favoritism in Sidibe's UNAIDS, below. On May 22 at 5:30 pm, the UN disclosed a rape allegation against one of its civilian contractors in Mali, in the MINUSMA mission in 2018. The Office of Internal Oversight Services, whose director has declined Press requests to take questions about OIOS' procedures, is the one investigating it. But why isn't it a crime subject to real prosecution by Mali? Inner City Press asked Haq on May 25, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: an additional case of child rape by a civilian contractor of the UN in Mali, and unlike for military personnel, it doesn't disclose, one the nationality, and two it's a pretty serious charge, and the Secretary-General is obviously going there for the Day of the Peacekeepers, so I wanted to know what's the nationality of the contractor?  How did the UN become aware of this?  And what… in the serious instance of alleged child rape, what is the UN going to do about it?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't have the nationality to share with you.  What I can say is that MINUSMA has received a report of sexual abuse involving a national civilian contractor, so this… I assume from that what the nationality is, but it says it involves a national civilian contractor.  The allegations refer to the rape of a female minor, resulting in her pregnancy.  The incident allegedly took place at an unspecified date in 2018.  Ensuring the provision of assistance to the victims is our priority.  The victim has been referred to UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] and an NGO [non-governmental organization] partner for appropriate medical, psychosocial, and legal support.  The Mission also stands ready to provide additional assistance as needed and the allegation is currently being investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).

Inner City Press:  If, in fact, the contractor is Malian and the victim is Malian, why wouldn't… why would not this be a criminal matter for actual prosecution in Mali?  Is the person given immunity simply by being a UN contractor?  What is it… like, for example, what was this person doing for the UN…?

Deputy Spokesman:  You would have to ask the Malian authorities whether there's any criminal prosecution being followed up in that case.  That is a matter between the contractor and the Government of Mali.  I've given you the details on our side.

Inner City Press: But what was the contractor doing?  You say he's a contractor, just to understand a little bit better how someone could get immunity for child rape, what services were their performing for the UN?

Deputy Spokesman:  I didn't say that any… first of all, there's not immunity for crimes that are committed.  Second of all, I didn't say that immunity was in play.

Inner City Press: Is it immunity from local prosecution?  [Inaudible]… rape by the UN…

Deputy Spokesman:  Again, you would have to ask… no, it's not by the UN.   Like I said, it's by a national contractor.  Second of all, you would have to check with the Malian authorities whether they are following up with criminal charges." The "inaudible" was a correspondent often used by the UN for this purpose trying to cut off the follow up on UN child rape with an unrelated question. We'll have more on this.

May 21, 2018

At UN, Guterres To Move NYC Jobs to Mexico City, Budapest and Nairobi, 290 From Uganda, ICP Asks

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive, full docs, II

UNITED NATIONS, May 18 – At the UN with Antonio Guterres 17 months into his term as Secretary General, there's talk of reform but little transparency. The attempted power-grab of the resident coordinator system has yet to be approved; the proponents have yet to answer Press questions. Guterres' proposed Global Service Delivery Model (GSDM) may, despite Guterres' murky attempts to over-ride his advisory team's recommendations, be an exception, as it would eliminate jobs in New York, jobs held by Americans. The proposal, which Inner City Press first wrote about in early March, is to move to cheaper location(s) back office functions like human resources, payments and payroll. 

Inner City Press has reported -- and has published full documents on Patreon, here -- the four cities in Guterres' initial filing with ACABQ, the UN's Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. They were Budapest, Kuala Lumpur, Mexico City and Nairobi. The first three were each the product of conflict of interest. Guterres wanted Budapest, those involved say, in order to support or cover up his Budapest move while at UNHCR. But given Victor Orban's statements, why is Antonio "Mister Migration" Guterres tweaking the process to reward Hungary? On Kuala Lumpur, UNDP in that country "lent" John Kidd to mediate or change the outside consultants' recommendations - and include KL. Now Malaysia has said it cannot or will not commit the requisite resources, and Inner City Press is informed - not by Guterres spokespeople which it has repeatedly asked - that Kuala Lumpur is out. And then there were three. Inner City Press asked in each article in this series, What will happen to Entebbe which was set up by DFS for their GFSS Global Field Support Strategy? And now Uganda's Museveni has protested to Guterres, without response. Museveni called the decision "unfair;" his foreign minister Sam Kutesa has threatened to call a vote in the General Assembly, of which he was president (and allegedly accepted bribesfrom Patrick Ho of China Energy Fund Committee, still in Special Consultative status with UN ECOSOC. On May 7, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, again, about the GSDM and specifically about Uganda - and it turns out Guterres spoke with Kutesa, though presumably not about the CEFC bribery scandal, on which Guterres has yet to act. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: I want to ask you again about this global service delivery mechanism.  Seems that… you'd said you were going to give some granular guidance, but I wanted to ask you if it's the case that Kuala Lumpur has dropped out of the four cities and, if so, why, and also if you can confirm the receipt of a letter by the President of Uganda protesting  their non-selection in… despite having this Entebbe situation and the various critiques he's made in it.  There's been a call… at least they've said that Sam Kutesa, which… a name from the past, may call a vote in the General Assembly about the selection of Nairobi over them.  And staff are… are… many people and I've asked here to see the underlying recommendations of how these cities were selected.

Spokesman:  Not aware of Kuala Lumpur.  On Entebbe, the Secretary-General spoke last week with the Foreign Minister of Uganda to explain the situation to him.  A number of functions related to peacekeeping will remain in Entebbe.

Inner City Press:  Could I ask you…

Spokesman:  Go ahead.

Inner City Press: I want to ask you another… since it seem… so, was that called before or after the reported letter from the President?

Spokesman:  It was before.  I'm not… I can't confirm the letter's been received." On May 18, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Farhan Haq about reports in Uganda, video here

May 14, 2018

UN Guterres Met Finland FM, His Security Ordered Inner City Press To Not Periscope

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photos

UNITED NATIONS, May 11 – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres met Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini on May 11, and Inner City Press went up intending to photograph (Alamy photos here) and stream Periscope video as it had with Iceland's President in the morning. But once in Guterres' conference room, two UN Security officers told Inner City Press it could not Periscope. "But I did this morning," Inner City Press replied. "That because there were remarks," one of the officers said. No more that in this Finnish one: Guterres' small talk, of the type his predecessor Ban Ki-moon routinely allowed to be recorded and even used to praise his visitor. Was this because Inner City Press Periscoped Guterres telling Egypt's Ambassador to convey his "warm regards" to Sisi? Wasn't that newsworthy? The other UN Security officer declined to explain - UNTV was shooting video, but would apparently be counted on to censor anything embarrassing. "This is on the order of the speechwriter," one of the UN Security officers said. But who is the speechwriter? It is certainly not spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who tried earlier in the week to entirely ban Inner City Press from photo ops, saying they were only for photo agencies (clarified to be, those who do not write). So is it the writing that is the problem? Periscope or not, those present hear what is said, and see where they are brought through. Since we have been censored, here's writing for example about Guterres' back pillow, brought back and forth from his office to the conference room. The menus and place cards, for exmple for Rosemary DiCarlo (the swearing in of whom Inner City Press was banned from). How about that the meeting, at most, lasted ten minutes, since when Inner City Press went at the appointed 2:40 pm time for Guterres' photo with UN Force Commanders it had already happened, ten minutes early? What is wrong with today's UN? What are they so willing to censor to ensure is not shown? Earlier on May 11 Guterres met Iceland's President Gudni Th. Johannesson and First Lady Eliza Reid and Inner City Press openly Periscoped; other than in-house UNTV and UN Photo, Inner City Press was the only media there. Alamy photo, Periscope. This came two days after Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric had Inner City Press blocked from covering Guterres' meeting with Al Sharpton while allow another media to cover. Dujarric said he was trying to bring "order" by excluding any photographer who also writes articles like this one. That is clearly censorship, but the decision was not revoked; Dujarric called Inner City Press "self-centered" for questioning it. Video here. We'll have more on this - and on Finland, where Gudni Th. Johannesson will visit on May 15, when Guterres will also again be in Europe. In other news, Eliza Reid recent presented the Icelandic crime writing award to Eva Björg Ægisdóttir. Guterres' UN is ripe for crime writing, what with the still unacted on UN bribery by Patrick Ho's China Energy Fund Committee, still in special consultative status with UN ECOSOC. Watch this site. Guterres disclosed the existence of a meeting with Martin Luther King III and Kweku Mandela at 3:30 pm on May 9 - but Inner City Press was not allowed as before to go up to the UN's 38th floor and photograph it. It was told that since it also files written reports, it is not a photo agency. This is the new censorship system of Guterres and his spokesman Stephane Dujarric. So Inner City Press waited as it its right in the lobby, until Martin Luther King II came down - with Al Sharpton. Photo here. Inner City Press asked the two what they discussed with Guterres and was told it is still premature to announce it. Periscope video from here. Tellingly, there was no UNTV camera there, and a lone non-UN paid photographer. Whether he writes, as Inner City Press is accused of, is not known, including to the UN. Another attendee told Inner City Press Guterres was rude and dismissive to some of the attendees, including it seems Kweku Mandela, not shaking his hand - we can't dispute, as we weren't there by the Guterres / Dujarric "rules." On May 10 Inner City Press asked Dujarric about it. He said he didn't know Sharpton had been there, and stonewalled on the censorship "rule" he had put forward. Video here.May 7, 2018

At UN Press Restricted From Covering Guterres' Lusophone Garden Party, Kids Climb Slavery Memorial

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 5 – The UN Media Alert for May 5 listed a “Portuguese Language Day Celebration;” when Inner City Press asked the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres it was told there would be remarks by Guterres, who is increasingly rarely in New York. Events in the UN Media Alert are open to all journalists - but in today's UN, rules mean little.

On May 5 UN Security stopped Inner City Press saying, No, I know who you are. Another UN Security Officer asked, Why don't you like the UN? Haiti cholera impunity came to mind, or UN Security Deputy Chief McNulty throwing Inner City Press' laptop on the sidewalk when it was evicted (audio here) for covering an event in the UN Press Briefing Rule - also ostensibly open to all journalists.

  On My 5 while UN Security was focused on making it impossible for Inner City Press to do its job, they allowed children, presumably Lusophone, to play on the UN's slavery memorial, which its Department of Public Information took money for from now convicted UN briber Ng Lap Seng, even according to the UN's own audit. The UN was turned into Antonio Guterres' Lusophone garden party. Any number of state media, like rarely present Egyptian Akhbar al Yom to which DPI under Alison Smale continues to assign Inner City Press' long time work space to, could enter and cover the event without no interaction much less blocking by UN Security. (Smale retweeted Guterres' Portuguese language self celebration, here - but could not or would not assure that the Press could cover the event, in the Media Alert, and has not in eight months responded to 5000 signature petitions and request for reinstatement and rules).

  The May 5 targeting of Inner City Press -- "I know who you are" -- is allowed by downgrading and keeping down Inner City Press as "non resident correspondent," while giving full resident correspondent status to no-show state media like Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef who has not asked the UN a question in more than a decade. Inner City Press, by contrast, is required to have a minder. But the UN is a place now of targeted censorship - the cancellation by the UN Alliance of Civilizations is just the most recent example. We'll have more on this.

April 30, 2018

UN in DRC Drone Procurement Ousts Low Bidder, Lets In Firm Under Probe, ICP Asks, Dodge

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive series

UNITED NATIONS, April 27 -- In UN Procurement, the lowest bidder doesn't always win, the UN confirmed on March 26 in response to Inner City Press' March 23 question. Rather than e-mail the statement to Inner City Press which asked, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spoksman Farhan Haq waited to read it out at the March 26 noon briefing, and then refused to answer questions about it. See transcript, and below. Today's UN is corrupt. Now it's even clearer: after ousting the low bidder PPI, UN Procurement has let in a company, Aeronautics Ltd a/k/a Aeronautics Defense Systems, which is under investigation and had a contract canceled in Romania in 2017, like one in Poland in 2012, and Mexico in 2009. On April 27, after publishing the above, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I had asked you before about the procurement of drones for MONUSCO [United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] in the DRC, and I think the upshot of this back-and-forth is that the low bidder doesn't necessarily get the bid, but it's since emerged that a… a company has been allowed in as… as now, the presumptive front-runner, Aeronautics Defence Systems, which will actually banned from… had contracts terminated in Romania in 2017 and Poland in 2012, so many… the people that are… that are, you know, following this to see how money is being spent… what's the… the… it's one thing to say, you know, the low bidder, we can investigate them and not do them, but then how can a company be brought in…?

Spokesman:  Look, I don't have all the facts on the top of my head.  What I do know is that obviously, it's always the lowest… it's the low bidder with the best possible bid.  I mean, you know, what the process is.  All vendors go through a vetting process.  I have no information on this particular company or know whether or not they are, in fact, part of the bidding process.

Inner City Press: Is past… is past record of completion or termination of contracts part of the…?

Spokesman:  Everything is looked at in the procurement process." Really?  Inner City Press was exclusively informed that in the bidding for the UN's Democratic Republic of the Congo UAS or Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) program, the low bidder is being displaced by more favored companies, unilaterally, by UN Procurement chief Dmitry Dovgopoly.

The story, exclusive to Inner City Press, goes like this: out to bid is a $50 million contract to provide Unmanned Aerial Systems services to the UN's MONUSCO in the DRC for a term of five (3 + 1 + 1) years. The present company, Leonardo, has a contract which expires in November. PPI beat out Leonardo, CAE, Thales, Qintetiq, Airbus and Trans Capital.

But shortly after our award, UN Procurement chief Dmitry Dovgopoly refused to approve the agreed upon terms and demanded PPI perform a demonstration flight prior to contract signature. Inner City Press covered Dovgopoly and similar tricks back when he was at the “D-1” level, and received pushback and is currenty still restricted to minders in the UN for pursuing its anti-corruption coverage into the UN Press Briefing Room, its work space purportedly assigned to a no-show Eygptian state corresponent Sanaa Youssef who has not asked a question in ten years.

April 23, 2018

On North Korea Talks, Kim Talks Freeze, UN Stonewalls From Margins, Amid Mis-Reporting

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, Video II

UNITED NATIONS, April 20 -- The Trump - Kim talks, primed by Mike Pompeo's visit to Pyongyang, have had their location sweepstakes narrowed down, excluding the US. On April 17, "Pooler yelled out to Trump if any of those are in the US. He shook his head and said no." Could the UN's Geneva be in the running? Or is the UN running to try to remain relevant? The UN Security Council is on retreat in Sweden, accompanied by UN Secretary General and, Inner City Press first reported, UN Disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu. On the 38th floor the word was that her agenda is "OPCW" - that is, Douma. And North Korea? No other media was up on the 38th floor for this, other than Inner City Press. And no other media, as Inner City Press did, asked the UN on April 20 to name who else is at the retreat. Now Kim Jong Un announces he will freeze testing, having accomplished his goals. On CNN it was said this is a gambit to outlast Trump. But if the talks go badly, will things last even two more years? Inner City Press ran into Nakamitsu after she had a meeting preparing for the retreat with Guterres and his Political (some say, Cameroon) adviser Khassim Diagne. The UN Secretariat has yet to release a list of the officials it is bringing to the retreat, so this report is a scoop-lette. Sweden's Deputy Ambassador Carl Skau's joke the previous day about making the Council members sit silent and listen to music, perhaps Bach as Dag Hammarskjold famously did, came up. But what music? Inner City Press is covering this. At an April 18 press conference Inner City Press asked what seemed an obvious journalistic question: who's paying? Video here.

April 16, 2018

On Syria, After Trump Strikes and Russia Draft Fails in UNSC, Sullivan Calls Iraq, Turkey, Kuwait and Czech

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video II Patreon, photos, Vine

UNITED NATIONS, April 14At 9 pm on April 13 US President Donald Trump announced airstrikes on Syria, with the UK and Syria. In the UN, Inner City Press rushed from the phone booth it works in to the UN Security Council, only to find the music and drinkers still pulsing from the UN Delegates Lounge. Video here.  Russia called a UN Security Council meeting and had a draft resolution voted on. It failed, with three in favor (China, Bolivia and Russia), eight against and four abstentions. (Ethiopia called its abstention pragmatic). Video here. Now the US lists calls made by Acting Secretary of State Sullivan: "The following is attributable to Spokesperson Heather Nauert: On April 14, 2018, Acting Secretary Sullivan made the following calls to foreign leaders to brief on the strikes in Syria: Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Al Sabah, Czech Foreign Minister Stropnicky, Turkish Under Secretary Yalcin, Iraqi Foreign Minister al-Jaafari." Some wonder, why Czech Republic, where Chinese businessman and briber Ye Jianming remains an adviser to the President? Meanwhile there are reports of air strikes on Jabal Azzan - watch this site. After the UNSC meeting, Inner City Press asked Russia's Vassily Nebenzia if any of the abstentions surprised him. He stopped and said that Russia doesn't twist any arms, it is a sovereign decision of each country. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres left with his entourage; Inner City Press asked quite audibly. so are you going to Saudi Arabia now? He didn't answer; Inner City Press has asked his two top spokesmen now in writing to be informed, hour by hour. It is, after all, public money. Watch this site. The failed draft at the end, “Condemns the aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic by the US and its allies in violation of international law and the UN Charter [and] Demands that the US and its allies immediately and without delay cease the aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic and demands also to refrain from any further use of force in violation of international law and the UN Charter.” Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia mocked the UK and France as having joined a military action based only  on the US Constitution; he used the word "neo colonialism." Moments before, Nikki Haley, entering the UN Security Council at 11 am on April 14 paused and said, The time for talk was over and the time for action had come, that's what happened last night. As she kept walking, there was a shouted question: What is the proof? Vine video here. Earlier on April 14 at the Pentagon, Lt Gen Kenneth McKenzie bragged that there had been no military response, and that the deconfliction channel was working with Russia. Earlier still on April 14, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced, "The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) team of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will continue its deployment to the Syrian Arab Republic to establish facts around the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma. The OPCW has been working in close collaboration with the United Nations Department of Safety and Security to assess the situation and ensure the safety of the team." April 9, 2018

Amid UN Bribery of Ng Lap Seng and CEFC China Energy, Guterres Spun Xinhua, ICP on Xi's Vase to Kim

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, Video II

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres took off on his trip to China, Inner City Press which has pursued the UN bribery scandals of Ng Lap Seng and now the China Energy Fund Committee asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric on April 6 if Guterres will address any of these issues during his five days in the country. Dujarric was dismissive, and ended the briefing. Video here; UN transcript here and below. This cutting off of public quesitons happened after Guterres gave a private (self) promotional interview to China's state media Xinhua, touting the trip and China as "absolutely essential" on the North Korea nuclear issue. Dujarric race off the podium made it impossible to ask him for Guterres' opinion on if the gifts given to Kim Jong Un on his recent train trip to China violated the UN's 1718 sanctions. Then again, the UN's own World Intellectual Property Organization helped on North Korea's cyanide patents without telling the 1718 Committee, and Guterres has been as hands-off with WIPO's Gurry as he has been with UNAIDS' Michel Sidibe on the sexual harassment and retaliation scandal. We'll have more on this. From the UN's April 6 transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about the… the trip to China by the Secretary-General.  You know, as you know there's… there's one being concluded and one still active UN bribery cases pending in the Southern District of New York.  Most recently…

Spokesman:  I don't agree with your characterization.

Inner City Press: They're both about bribing the PGA.  I guess you can say the PGA is not really the UN, but…

Spokesman:  Go ahead.  Go ahead.

Inner City Press:  Okay.  So my question is since there seems to be a pattern of… in two cases, one was Ng Lap Seng, South-South News, who Vivian Wang has now pleaded guilty.  The other is the China Energy Fund Committee, which remains in consultative status with ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council].  Is this an issue that the Secretary-General, in visiting the home base of both operations, and both are alleged to be Government connected?

Spokesman:  The United Nations has cooperated with the Southern District here in New York in whatever way we can in any and all investigations.  The legal process here has played itself out and is playing itself out, and as for the accreditation of the ECOSOC accreditation, as I've told you numerous times, it's a member state issue…". And then Dujarric ran off the podium. We'll have more on this. The UN has been targeting not only Inner City Press for censorship, but also its sources, for retaliation.

It was reported and quoted here:  "Looks like UN is making efforts to ID people who send stuff to media: 'Identified a computer used to print an email that was later leaked to Inner City Press, by correlating an URL on the top of the leaked document with Webmail & DHCP logs.' Are they punishing whistleblowers?"

Well, yes. And the investigative Press.

On March 14, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about the above-quoted and he said, since the UN has confidential information it can and does investigate leaks and leakers. Video here.

But isn't that, in leaks to Inner City Press ranging from Burundi to Cameroon to cover ups to North Korea, going after whistleblowers? Haq dodged, and Inner City Press asked if a person who leaked the memo to Kofi Annan about impending genocide in Rwanda would be investigated. Apparently yes - but Haq again claimed that there is no retaliation. What about Anders Kompass, fired after releasing a document bout French peacekeepers' rapes in Central African Republic? Or Miranda Brown? Or Emma Reilly? On March 15, after asking Haq about threats of retaliation made at and by UNAIDS, Inner City Press asked what type of leak the UN investigates, and for whom. Haq said any kind the UN wants, and ostensibly for member states. Video here.

April 1, 2018

After UN Guterres Refused Press Question on UNAIDS #MeToo, To Lisbon For 4 Days, Slow

By Matthew Russell Lee, Vine, doc here

UNITED NATIONS, March 31 – For Antonio Guterres' 15 months as UN Secretary General he has gotten less and less transparent, about meetings and read-outs and even where he is. At one point for more than a week his spokespeople refused to answer the Press on where he was, finally saying "Europe." On March 29, Inner City Press asked Guterres' top three spokespeople a simple question: "where *is* the Secretary General? And where will he be, each day prior to his appearance Monday in Geneva? Again, has the Secretary General or anyone in his team spoken with Michel Sidibe of UNAIDS following the reports of his threats to staff who have come forward with harassment complaints?" Past 4 PM on March 30, despite Guterres' spokespeople putting out a statement from him about Liberia, no answer. His absence was noted at a protest in front of the UN, here (and later at the UN Security Council stakeout on Gaza). More than 17 hours after the question was asked, and asked again, finally this from Guterres' spokesperson: "the SG is in Lisbon." There - was that so difficult? The question of costs, of four days in Lisbon based off an appearance Tuesday in Geneva, amid protests and the Gaza crisis and inaction by UN Headquarters on sexual harassment and retaliation at UNAIDS and elsewhere is another question. And there are still other questions left unanswered, for example "what is the UN's position, and what has the UN done, about the detention then deportation of Kenya opposition figure Miguna Miguna, and the beating of journalists covering it in the Nairobi airport?
Does the UN have anything more to say about Somalia's complaint about UAE's deal with Somaliland for port and military base, other than that it is a bilateral matter between Somalia and the UAE?" We'll have more on this.
On March 29 Guterres refused to answer Inner City Press' question about sexual harassment at UNAIDS, about which Inner City Press has been asking the UN all year and which will be on CNN International on March 30, while protesters from Southern Cameroons / Ambazonia gather across from the UN to have their voices heard. But where IS Guterres? We'll have more on this.
Only two weeks ago Guterres found yet another reason to visit, with public funds, his home in Lisbon. He also investigates whistleblower, presumably for retaliation, here.
March 26, 2018

On Cameroon, ICP Asked Nigeria's Ambassador About the 47 Taken, UN Not Sure DSG Will Raise

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 1st Person, this

UNITED NATIONS, March 22 -- The deference of the UN system's and many of its member states to Cameroon's corrupt 36-year president Paul Biya, and their complicity in his recent crackdown, continues. UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed was in Abuja as 47 people were illegally refouled to Cameroon;  she has been silent on that, as on continuing restrictions on the Press in her UN. She will be back in Abuja on March 23-24. On March 22, Inner City Press asked Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the UN Tijjani Muhammad Bande about the 47 people. Video here. He replied that he cannot answer, he doesn't know all the facts. "I would need information" about it, he said, "I am looking for verification."

Really? Isn't it his government, even more than (still) the government of Amija J. Mohammed. Still Tijjani Muhammad Bande UNlike Amina . Mohammed at least took the question, along with Niger's affable Ambassador Abdallah Wafy and offered some response. Amina J. Mohammed hasn't responded on that, on the CITES issues, or on this. On March 23 Inner City Press asked the Spokesman for Antonio "Golden Statue" Guterres and Amina J. "Rosewood" Mohammed, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: at the stakeout yesterday, the ambassador… the Permanent Representative of Nigeria, Tijjani Muhammad Bande, I asked him about these 47 people that were sent back to Cameroon, that… that UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] has said were sent back, and criticized.  He said he doesn't have any information on it.  I'm wondering, given that the Deputy Secretary-General is going to be in Abuja, is this one of the issues that she's going to try to get an answer to?

Spokesman:  She had raised it with various officials in the past.

Inner City Press:  But now, the Government is taking they don't know?

Spokesman:  I'm not aware that she plans to raise it.  If anything changes, I will let you know." What, to SABC?  On March 19, while constrained with a minder and a roped in cage, Inner City Press asked UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid if he had any updated death count, since he stopped at 10. Video here. He replied he needs to look at the statistics, I can't recall, the important issue is to have access. Inner City Press pointed to the visit or access of UN envoy Francois Lounseny Fall (who equated secessionists with extremists, justifying the crackdown). Zeid replied "like in West Papua, I am asking for access." But not asking as loudly as elsewhere.
March 19, 2018

As Cameroon's Biya Vows Crackdown in NW and SW Regions, ICP Asks UN, Prober of Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 1st Person, this

UNITED NATIONS, March 16 -- The deference of the UN system's and many of its member states to Cameroon's corrupt 36-year president Paul Biya, and their complicity in his recent crackdown, continues. The UN has enabled Biya in equating Boko Haram with the restorationist forces, as he did in his cabinet meeting on March 15 with this line: "Thanks to the firm action of our defense and security forces, we have been able to drastically curb the atrocities perpetrated by criminal groups in the Far North, North-West and South-West Regions." The violence in the Far North is entirely different from that in North-West and South-West Regions. But it was the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' envoy Francois Lounceny Fall who equated separatists with extremists; it was Guterres who stopped by Yaounde and took Biya's golden statue back in October. On March 16, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: since it's so rare, I got asked today.  The President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, held his a Cabinet meeting for the first time since 2015, second one in the last six years, and one of the quotes coming out of it is to congratulate his defence and security forces for their… to drastically curb the atrocities perpetrated by criminal groups in the far north, north-west, and south-west regions.  And "the far north" seems to be a reference to Boko Haram, but "north-west" and "south-west" are the Anglophone regions, where there's a dispute about whether that part of the country is… actually is part of Cameroon.  So I wanted to know, given what's been said by François Fall and others about dialogue, if they took note of the speech, if they have any thought on it.  And I had also… and also on the issue that you had been talking about, about investigating leaks, I wanted to ask a very specific question.  If an internal UN memo concerning Cameroon, not submitted by the Government of Cameroon, but simply the UN's own analysis on why it might make sense to not speak out or to speak out, were to be leaked, is that the type of leak that would be investigated, since you said that it's done at the behest of or in order to protect Member States' ability to give information to the UN, if I understood you correctly?

Deputy Spokesman:  And part of what I said is that those are decisions to be taken ultimately by the managers who deal with the various files.  I wouldn't answer on any particular hypothetical circumstance.

Inner City Press: But is there any guidance… I know… Is there any guidance from the top of… are there cases where, from the top, the UN would say this is not an appropriate thing to investigate because it chills whistle-blowers?

Deputy Spokesman:  Obviously, you're aware of what the whistle-blower protections are, and all managers are aware of those.  Regarding your question on Cameroon and the behaviour of the security forces, we've also made clear our concerns about any excessive use of force, and we want to make sure both that security forces, wherever they're deployed, avoid excessive use of force, abide by international human rights norms, and in this particular case, of course, we want to make sure that nothing is done to forestall any efforts at dialogue.  Have a good weekend, everyone." Guterres is in Lisbon, again, for the weekend.
March 12, 2018

On North Korea Talks, Location Ideas Range from Pyongyang to Mar-a-Lago, Bolton Urges Geneva in March

By Matthew Russell Lee, Full Exclusive, Video

UNITED NATIONS, March 10 – On the North Korea - Trump talks by May announced on March 8, it's said US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is going to brief the UN Security Council on Monday, March 12, and meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at 3 pm, without even a photo spray at the top. Amid that murk, one view of where (and when) a Trump meeting with Kim Jong Un should take place was voice March 9 by none other than John Bolton: by the end of March, in Geneva. Bolton said it should be in the same "former League of Nations" conference room where James Baker met Tariq Aziz in January 1991 before Operation Desert Storm, the so-called extra mile for peace. Others throw out locations like Pyongyang, New York, Seoul, Tokyo (if Trump wants to throw Abe a bone, see below) or even Mar-a-Lago.  The timing of Trump's meeting with Bolton shortly before the North Korea talks were announced bears more reporting. At the UN by mid-morning on March 9, this was not listed on the Security Council's online Program of Work. Photo here. In Japan, no longer on the Security Council, media like the Sankei Shimbun complained instead about the issue of abductees and about Trump's dissing of Japan on tariffs, while using wire or "joint" copy on the Florida gun bill, UN Women's Day and even on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' canned statement. From Seoul, Kato's successor Norio Sakurai warned of Japan being "peeled off." Similarly, in North Korea itself the ostensibly agreed to talks weren't even yet disclosed to the public. Working at the UN, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for Miroslav Lajcak, President of the UN General Assembly, for comment on the North Korea talks. By evening, this was sent to Inner City Press: "The President supports dialogue as well as efforts to denuclearize the Koran Peninsula." Earlier, Inner City Press asked the Dutch President of the Council for the month, Karel van Oosterom, who told Inner City Press he has been invited to a meeting with McMaster but for more to ask the US. In DC the questions were about McMaster leaving the Administration, with a less than rousing defense by the spokesperson. When the UN Spokesman called his end of day (and week) lid, there was mention of another Security Council meeting for Monday, but nothing on North Korea. Meanwhile, when UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres belatedly commented 17 hours after the announcement, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric went on to link to the slated talks the earlier visit to Pyongyang by outgoing UN Department of Political Affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman. But is the connection? And when Feltman leaves on March 31, who will the US put in, particularly given developments on and in North Korea? Watch this site. Back on March 8, half an hour after South Korean official Chung Eui-yong announced at the White House that US President Trump will meet North Korea's Kim Jong Un by May, Inner City Press after informing the UN's Department of Public Information sought reaction from Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Since, despite Inner City Press' request, all UN Department of Public Information minders had left for the day, Inner City Press retreated to the Conference Building where a Chinese opera, as it happens, was taking place. But when Guterres and his entourage came off the elevator, Inner City Press approached, at the same time as one of Guterres' female Assistant SGs he'd met with. Guterres, chatting with a youth, ignored even her. Video here. Did he know the news? Inner City Press followed up by Twitter: nothing. This is today's UN.  Two cars were at the ready, and two security officers faced Inner City Press. (One said that yet a third officer "wanted to file a complaint against your story," here). There was the sound of opera, and down the hall a painting of Ban Ki-moon, who accomplished nothing on the issue in ten years. It was the UN. The next morning, still nothing from Guterres. FMarch 5, 2018

In Cameroon, Visiting UN's Fall Didn't Witness Biya's Deployment, Didn't Mention Refoulement

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 1st Person, this

UNITED NATIONS, March 1 -- The deference of the UN system's and many of its member states to Cameroon's corrupt 36-year president Paul Biya, and their complicity in his recent crackdown, continues. The Biya government is destroying historic places like Boa Bakundu, reportedly burning alive another grandmother, this time Frida Ndumu. Meanwhile after illegal refoulement to Yaounde from Nigeria, and ongoing crackdowns. Now the UN's Central Africa representative Francois Lounceny Fall, who on UN Radio equated secessionists and extremists then ran from Press questions in UN Headquarters, has deigned to visit Buea, along with the UN's resident coordinator Allegra Maria Del Pilar Baiocchi, more focused on promoting the UN than trying to prevent conflict and the killing of civilians. She has tweeted photos about the visit, nothing on the burned motor bikes and people, much less the illegal refoulement. The same day in Buea, the station manager of CRTV implored the Governor of Buea to put the whole area on red alert as the crackdown, using Fall's secessionists are extremists logic, continues. The UN has poured fuel on this conflict, and refused to answer basic questions about it. Sources in the UN Department of Political Affairs say Guterres arranged for a memo justifying his inaction since receipt of Biya's golden statue. But when Inner City Press on February 28 asked first outgoing DPA chief Jeff Feltman, then UN Spokesman Dujarric, both said they didn't know of Fall's visit. From the UN's February 28 transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Cameroon.  I've seen that François Fall has… or at least his office is tweeting that he's in the south-west region in Buea, saying he's having some great meetings.  Given that the Government side there has asked for a… for a… an alert and that young people's motorcycles are being burned, destroying their livelihood, I'm just wondering, are we going to get a readout?  Was that said in advance…? Spokesman:  Let me see what I can get. Inner City Press: It seems like Mr. Feltman didn't actually know it was taking place.  I tried-- Spokesman:  Well, he may not be the only one.  I was not aware of the visit." A full 24 hours later, without sending Inner City Press any update or response to its question, Dujarric at the noon briefing read one out...

February 26, 2018

In Cameroon, UN's Mueller Congratulated Biya Despite Crackdown & Corruption, ICP Asks Why

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 1st Person, this

The deference of the UN system's and many of its member states to Cameroon's corrupt 35-year president Paul Biya, and their complicity in his recent crackdown, continues. After illegal refoulement to Yaounde from Nigeria, and ongoing crackdowns, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' humanitarian deputy official Ursula Mueller has offered "congratulations" to Biya's foreign minister Mbella Mbella. Photo and UNanswered Press question here. This comes after Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric if Mueller would stop in the Anglophone zones, and since not, why not? He replied that the overall humanitarian situation would be discussed. So on February 23, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I had asked you before Ursula Mueller's trip, whether the… the situation in the anglophone zones of Cameroon would come up, and I just want to say I saw… I guess she tweeted a picture of herself with the Foreign Minister of Cameroon yesterday, saying… congratulating the Cameroon Government, entirely positive.  And I just wanted to know… you seemed… you seemed to indicate that the overall humanitarian situation would arise.  Given even… even on the issue of refugees, given that there were 47 people sent back seemingly illegally, refouled from Nigeria, is this… is she unaware of that in giving these congratulations? Spokesman:  Her mission focused on the Lake Chad Basin, on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin which, as you know, has led to mass… to a humanitarian situation that's impacted at least 10 million people.  She discussed a wide range of humanitarian concerns with the government of Cameroon, including the Boko Haram crisis in the far north, the situation of refugees from the CAR [Central African Republic] in the east, and the growing food insecurity across the country, as well as the situation in the Anglophone regions."  Really? With congratulations, echoes of the golden statue that Guterres took in October? Meanwhile in Nigeria people are being prosecuted for sheltering refugees from Cameroon, and Guterres and the UN are silent. We'll have more on this. A new report details Biya's long stays outside of the country in Geneva, while his military kills Anglophones and the country declines. Biya has spent four and a half years in Geneva, at a cost of $65 million in hotel fees and $117 million for chartered private plane, sometimes left "on stand-by" for weeks at a time. The report goes one level down: "One of Biya’s closest confidants, Joseph Fouda, a military officer and special advisor, has accompanied him on at least 86 trips, amounting to more than three years of travel since 1993. He prefers a room on a top floor of the Intercontinental. Another close confidant, Martin Belinga Eboutou, 78, has spent nearly three years travelling with the president starting in 1987, when he was Cameroon’s ambassador to Morocco. The president attempted to buy a brand new private jet in 2004, but his staff reportedly cut corners on the deal, buying a defective plane covered by a fresh coat of paint that nearly crashed on its first flight. Since then, the president has chartered at least several private aircraft, including a luxury jet formerly owned by the government of Kazakhstan." Still UN Secretary General, himself a murky first class flyer, smilingly took Biya's golden statue and has done nothing; his advisers Khassim Diagne and the outgoing head of Political Affairs have assured him of Biya's bona fides or the wisdom of doing... nothing. The UN has failed. The UN refugee agency UNHCR in Abuja early on January 30 told Inner City Press that it has as yet no comment on the blatant forced repatriation or refoulement to Cameroon of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and 46 others while it seeks "explanations through official channels." (Later UNHCR issued a short statement.) On January 31, Inner City Press again asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here and below. When Inner City Press on February 8 put the refoulement question to Francois Delattre, the UN Ambassador of France which has supported Paul Biya's 36-year rule, Delattre replied that "We always have views but no comment from me at this stage." Video here. That is irresponsible - or another sign of France's responsibility for what is happening in the region. We'll have more on this - and now on Germany. Angela Merkel's "personal representative for Africa" Gunter Nooke showed up in Yaounde on February 15 trying as he does elsewhere to drum up business. With him was Ambassador Hans Dieter Stell; there was according to CRTV "the exchange of gifts symbolic of Cameroon's legendary hospitality." Another golden statue like UNSG Guterres took? At UN headquarters, as Inner City Press alone asked, Germany's Ambassador procured a publicly funded post for his wife by merely emailing Guterres' chief of staff. Inner City Press asked Dujarric and his deputy Haq - no real answer - while the only other question asked about it was how the information about the job had leaked. The media asking that is given full access to the UN by the UN Department of Public Information of British Alison Smale, a major Germanophile who continues to have Inner City Press restricted, its long time work space given to a no-show no-question Egyptian state media. We'll have more on this.

February 19, 2018

On Cameroon, UK Denies Inner City Press FOIA Request After 170 Days, Yemen Too, Appeal

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 1st Person

UNITED NATIONS, February 15 – The United Kingdom's silence about the plight of Anglophone residents of the former British Southern Cameroons persists even in the face of a Freedom of Information Act request from Inner City Press.

More than five months ago on 15 August 2017 Inner City Press asked the UK government for records concerning Cameroon. After repeatedly extending the time to response, now the UK has denied access to all responsive records, letter here, saying that "the release of information relating to the UK’s discussion on UN business could harm our relations and other member states of the United Nations (UN)."

Here on Patreon is the full denial letter, from which Inner City Press is preparing an appeal, on Yemen as well - it has 40 working days.

This is shameful - the UK is also exiting transparency.

On February 6 in front of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked the United Kingdom's Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen for the UK's comment on Nigeria's forced repatriation of 47 to Cameroon. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: Nigeria did a forced repatriation of 47 Cameroonian leaders. The UNHCR said it was illegal. The US has commented on it. Does the UK have any view? Amb Allen: I’m afraid I wasn’t aware of that before. I’ll have to get back to you on the details." Video here. At day's end, a UK Mission spokesperson sent Inner City Press a short comment, here.

As Inner City Press pursues these questions at the UN, it remains restricted to minders by the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, who it is noted is British - and functionally a censor. A retaliator, too? Smale has not explained why Inner City Press' long time work space is assigned to no-show, no-question Egyptian state media Akhbar al Youm. February 12, 2018

In UN Bribery Case, Ho Was Denied Bail, Inner City Press Asks 3 Why CEFC Still in ECOSOC

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, Q&A, HK here

UNITED NATIONS, February 6 – UN bribery indictee Patrick Ho was denied bail on February 5, in a lengthy oral order that found the weight of evidence against him substantial. On November 20, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued an indictment against the head of the UN ECOSOC accredited China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC) Patrick Ho and former Senegal foreign minister Cheikh Gadio, accused together of bribing Chad's President Idriss Deby -- as well as, for Ho, of bribing former UN President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, now as then the foreign minister of Uganda, since 2005, allegedly for the benefit of President Yoweri Museveni. On February 5, Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesman why CEFC is still in "special consultative status" with ECOSOC, transcript here (video here) and below, than ran to the courthouse. There, US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest asked Prosecutor Daniel C. Richenthal to describe the weight of the evidence. "How strong is your case?" she asked, to some laughter. Very strong, he said, adding that Ho has been emailing the "Shanghai-based Energy Company" (that would be CEFC China Energy) from MCC detention, to launch a public relations campaign. It may be backfiring: Judge Forrest in her ruling denying bail noted that if Chinese government press is describing the case as political, it would make fleeing and remaining in China all the easier. Richenthal said that Ho could travel to other places - he listed Chad, Uganda, Iran and Russia. The continued home detention of UN bribery convictee was raised by Richenthal and Judge Forrest, and not favorably. Gadio was alluded to as not yet indicted - he'd said to be talking about a plea - and Judge Forrest emphasized November 5 as the trial date. She said there was leave to re-apply for bail but said such an application should include what Ho's lawyer Mr Kim called the "context" of the payments. Kim said they including country-wide charitable and military aid. From a Chinese energy company? From the UN's February 5 transcript: Inner City Press: Patrick Ho, who is the head of the China Energy Fund Committee, is arguing again for bail today.  And the US, in opposing it, put it in writing that they've executed a search warrant at China Energy Fund Committee, the NGO's (non-governmental organization) offices in Virginia.  It seems the China Energy Fund Committee is still in special consultative status with ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) even as its offices are being raided and… and its head is in jail.  What are the procedures for… for…? Spokesman:  As far as I'm aware… you know, the consultative status of ECOSOC, as opposed to the DPI (Department of Public Information) status, is one that is managed by the Member States.  There is a committee of ECOSOC that is made up of Member States.  They give… they grant or deny consultative status to various NGOs.  I think we'll have to look… you can contact ECOSOC to see what the exact rules are, but my assumption would be that, if Member States grant, only Member States can take away." So, Guterres is doing nothing. On February 6, after another non-response by ECOSOC's chair, Inner City Press asked Guterres' and Dujarric's Deputy Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  yesterday, the… Patrick Ho, the head of the China Energy Fund Committee here, was denied bail.  And in the… in the hearing, basically, the prosecution said and the judge said that she found weight to be given to the evidence that basically the NGO [non-governmental organization] was a front for bribery to Sam Kutesa and others.  So, given that… how this trial is going, I'm wondering, again, Stéphane [Dujarric] had said that the Secretariat plays no role in sort of following through and making sure that China Energy Fund Committee can't continue to say it's a… in special consultative status with ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council].  I've written to the ECOSOC chair now twice, 28 November 2017 and today, but I don't have anything back.  Is there any spokesperson for ECOSOC that can at least say what the process is? Deputy Spokesman:  There is a spokesperson for the President of the Economic and Social [Council], and I can give you that contact afterwards. Inner City Press: Because… because Brenden… oh.  Yeah.  Anyways, I'd written before to that same individual, and there was no response.  I'm just… guess I'm wondering, what is their… what is the… does the Secretary-General… given that trial that's now moving forward and what's coming out in it, does he believe in the same way that he has… asserting himself as to agencies on other issues, that he should maybe get involved to ensure that there's not a… a named briber saying that they're in consultative status with the UN? Deputy Spokesman:  "Well, UN bodies themselves have been dealing with the problems created by the China Energy Fund Committee in their own ways, but what you're talking about is consultative status that's granted by Member States through the Economic and Social Council, and that decision would have to be taken by Member States." Then Inner City Press emailed the alluded to spokesman, one Paul Simon. Hours later, nothing.

February 5, 2018

On Cameroon & Nigeria, UN Hides Behind Belated UNHCR Statement to Inner City Press, DSG Avoids Qs

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, en francais, 1st Person

UNITED NATIONS, February 1 – The UN system's deference to Cameroon's 35-year president Paul Biya, and to the government of neighboring Nigeria, continues. The UN refugee agency UNHCR in Abuja early on January 30 told Inner City Press that it has as yet no comment on the blatant forced repatriation or refoulement to Cameroon of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and 46 others while it seeks "explanations through official channels." On January 31, Inner City Press against asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here and below. On February 1, the UN refugee agency UNHCR finally answered Inner City Press' repeated questions, below. But at the UN noon briefing, even when Inner City Press specifically cited Guterres shameless golden statue moment and Amina J. Mohammed's Nigeria links, the UN passed the buck. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: you had said two days ago, on the issue of these… this refoulement from Nigeria to Cameroon, to wait for UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] to speak.  And they have spoken, and they've said that the law has been broken by Nigeria, sending back, they say, 47; some people involved say it's 51.  But, what I wanted… so, I wanted to know, at the Secretariat level, given its involvement and its call for dialogue in Cameroon, and number two, specifically, given that the Deputy Secretary-General was in Abuja when the abductions took place, according to you, has spoken to the Government about it, has been quoted in a speech she gave in South Africa as calling Mr. [Muhammadu] Buhari her President, what is her statement on Nigeria's refoulement of at least 47 and maybe 51? Spokesman:  I think we'll refer you to UNHCR.  UNHCR is in the lead on the issue of refugees and asylum-seekers and refoulement.  They have spoken.  We fully back what UNHCR has said. Inner City Press: But, how does it impact this… I mean, obviously…? Spokesman:  We continue to engage with the Cameroonian authorities, and our offers of helping them work out some of the issues in the Anglophone areas continues to stand.  I will come back to you." When? Today's UN is corrupt. Here was UNHCR: "Hi dear Matthew, Following up on my email, below is our statement on the issue: UNHCR condemns forced returns of Cameroon asylum-seekers from Nigeria: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has learned with great concern of the forced return by Nigeria of 47 Cameroonians, who were handed over to the Cameroonian authorities on 26 January 2018. Most of the individuals in question had submitted asylum claims. Their forcible return is in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, which constitutes the cornerstone of international refugee law. The returns were carried out despite UNHCR’s efforts and engagement with the authorities. UNHCR reminds Nigeria of its obligations under international and Nigerian law, and urges the Nigerian Government to refrain from forcible returns of Cameroonian asylum-seekers back to their country of origin. We also urge the Government of Cameroon to ensure that the group is treated in accordance with human rights law and standards." Is this why UN Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed has refused and avoided all questions from Inner City Press on this, including by using restrictions on the Press in "her UN, in support of "her" President and country? We'll have more on this.

January 29, 2018

On UN Bribery, Inner City Press Asked Guterres of CEFC, Now Suspended From Global Compact

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, Q&A, HK here

UNITED NATIONS, January 25– On November 20, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued an indictment against the head of the UN ECOSOC accredited China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC) Patrick Ho and former Senegal foreign minister Cheikh Gadio, accused together of bribing Chad's President Idriss Deby (as well as, for Ho, of bribing former UN President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, now as then the foreign minister of Uganda, since 2005).

Inner City Press has covered the case and repeatedly asked the UN Spokesman why Secretary General Antonio Guterres has not even started an audit based on the indictment, including of how CEFC got its UN status and even remains in the UN Global Compact espousing anti-corruption goals. On January 16, Inner City Press put the question directly to Antonio Guterres, video here, UN transcript here, and below. Guterres said "I will look into it... We don't want the Compact to have companies that do not abide by the set of principles." But a week passed, and nothing. On January 24, Inner City Press asked again. And on January 25, Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced, Matthew you've asked once or twice, the Global Compact has suspended China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC China Energy). But, Inner City Press notes, China Energy Fund Committee is *still* in special consultative status with UN ECOSOC. And there has been no audit of the other connections. We'll have more on this. From the UN's January 16 transcript: Q: Matthew Lee, Inner City Press, on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, hoping for more question and answer in 2018, as you said. In November, there there was an indictment announced in Federal Court downtown of the head of an ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council)-accredited NGO for bribing, allegedly bribing, the President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, to benefit the China Energy Fund Committee. And I wanted to ask you, that remains still in the Global Compact, and there hasn't been even an audit or anything created. Why haven't you started an audit in that case? Why is the beneficiary of what's described as bribery in the UN still in the Global Compact? And how do your reforms preclude or make impossible this type of bribery that's now happened twice under John Ashe, may he rest in peace, and under Sam Kutesa?  SG Guterres: "In relation to other cases, I would like to say that I'm not aware of presence in the Compact or whatever. I will have to look into it. I will look into it. What is clear for me is that we don't want the Compact to have companies that do not abide by the set of principles that were defined in the constitution of the Compact. There is a code of conduct that is there, and that should be respected. So, I don't know exactly what happened in the compact in that regard. I will look into that."January 22, 2018

At UNSG Guterres Presser, Inner City Press Asks of Cameroon & UN Bribery for CEFC, Here

By Matthew Russell Lee, photos, video

UNITED NATIONS, January 16 – When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres held a press conference on January 16, it was his first public media question and answer sessions at the UN in months. Inner City Press arrived early and kept its hand raised; as the 14th questioner it was able to ask Guterres about the ongoing UN bribery case and about ten abductions in Nigeria by / for Cameroon, which he visited in October. On the latter, Guterres said that the UN is active and has gotten some people released. This may be a reference to Felix Aghbor Balla and others. But what of those still held in Nigeria, where as Inner City Press pointed out his deputy Amina J. Mohammed has been for the past week? We'll have more on this. On the UN bribery indicted against Cheikh Gadio and Patrick Ho of the China Energy Fund Committee, to benefit CEFC China Energy which is still a member of the UN Global Compact, Guterres focused on this part of the question, saying he would look into the Global Compact membership. It's worth nothing that when Ng Lap Seng was indicted in 2015 for UN bribery, his Sun Kian Ip foundation was dropped by the UN and money returned. Here, UN DESA still used $1 million of CEFC even after the indictment. As Guterres seems not to know, the case and Inner City Press' coverage has been reported all over the world, from China to Uganda and Senegal to the Czech Republic. We'll have more on this as well. Here's the UN's January 16 transcript: Q: Matthew Lee, Inner City Press, on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, hoping for more question and answer in 2018, as you said.  In November, there was an indictment announced in Federal Court downtown of the head of an ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council)-accredited NGO for bribing, allegedly bribing, the President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, to benefit the China Energy Fund Committee. And I wanted to ask you, that remains still in the Global Compact, and there hasn't been even an audit or anything created. Why haven't you started an audit in that case? Why is the beneficiary of what's described as bribery in the UN still in the Global Compact? And how do your reforms preclude or make impossible this type of bribery that's now happened twice under John Ashe, may he rest in peace, and under Sam Kutesa? And, also, on Cameroon, you visited, I know, in late October. Since then, some Anglophone leaders have been arrested or abducted in Nigeria, where I know your deputy was. I wanted to know what the UN system is doing about this now cross-border problem. Thanks a lot. Secretary-General:  Well, as a matter of fact, in relation to that, we have done several initiatives, and some of them even led to the release of people, and we will go on engaging with all the states involved. In relation to other cases, I would like to say that I'm not aware of presence in the Compact or whatever. I will have to look into it. I will look into it. What is clear for me is that we don't want the Compact to have companies that do not abide by the set of principles that were defined in the constitution of the Compact. There is a code of conduct that is there, and that should be respected. So, I don't know exactly what happened in the compact in that regard. I will look into that."January 15, 2018

After Nigeria "Disappears" 10 in Abuja, Amina J. Mohammed Tours with Gov't, ICP Asks UN, Nothing

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, en francais, 1st Person

UNITED NATIONS, January 12 – After UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres accepted a golden statue from Cameroon's 35-year president Paul Biya in Biya's palace in Yaounde, Guterres again shook hands with Biya in Paris at the One Planet event, photo here; UN told Inner City Press no meeting was scheduled. Now, after Guterres' envoy Francois Lounceny Fall equated secessionists with extremists, Inner City Press is informed that ten officials of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia declared on October 1 including Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe have been grabbed and disappeared -- while in Nigeria. Now with UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed who is in Abuja still silent, Inner City Press on January 12 asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you again.  Now, Amnesty International has spoken out about - it turns out it's 10 independence leaders of the anglophone regions of Cameroon as they've put it that were abducted in Nigeria more than a week ago, and they've said… Spokesman:  I don't have anything new on that. Inner City Press:  I guess… because I see pictures of Amina Mohammed with the Government of Nigeria and I'm just wondering has she brought it up to them? Spokesman:  I have nothing new on that at this point." This is the AI statement: "Ten leaders of the independence movement in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon could be at risk of torture and unfair trials if extradited from Nigeria, where they have been arrested and detained in secret for one week, Amnesty International said today. On 5 January, armed men in plain clothes stormed a hotel in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja where the activists, all members of the pro-independence Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), were meeting, and arrested them without presenting a warrant or providing an explanation.  They are being held incommunicado, without any access to a lawyer, in contravention of Nigerian law which demands they must be seen by a judge within 48 hours. Human rights lawyers in Nigeria have said that an extradition request has been made by the Cameroonian government, but no details have been made public. “By holding these activists in secret, without charge, the Nigerian authorities are failing to respect both national and international law. If they are extradited to Cameroon, they risk an unfair trial before a military court and the deeply disturbing possibility of torture,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria." So where is the UN and Amina J. Mohammed? On tour with and praising Nigeria's government, of course. On January 11, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I'd asked you on Monday about this abduction of nine southern Cameroon leaders in Abuja.  So, it's… they were taken out of a hotel, you know, by armed men.  So, I'm wondering… I was wondering even in Chamb… I was wanting to see if Mr. Chambas, who I know covers Nigeria… what's the UN system… you said that you're aware of it and trying to monitor it. Spokesman:  We have not seen any confirmation or not… we have… we're still looking at the situation, but we've not seen any official or been made aware of any official confirmation since the incident's happened. Inner City Press:  Well, The Guardian has a quote from a Nigerian official saying they did take them into… into custody, and there's a big concern that they'll be extradited to Cameroon but my question… Spokesman:  That's… that's… yeah.  Go ahead.  I… Inner City Press:  Since I've seen that Amina Mohammed's schedule says that she's in Abuja for the entire week, meeting with Government officials, it seems… I guess I'm asking you, did she… has she asked them if they're responsible?  It's a disappearance. Spokesman:  I have nothing else to add." Nothing. With Ayuk Tabe still "disappeared," Inner City Press is re-publishing a few of his responses to its questions back in November. Inner City Press asked him if he thought the "One Nigeria" policy of Antonio Guterres, his (Nigerian) Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed and envoy Chambas impacts their view of Southern Cameroons / Ambazonia. Ayuk Tabe noted the lack of transparency for Guterres' meeting with Paul Biya in late October; when Inner City Press asked of Biya's Ambassador to the UN bragging about Amina J. Mohammed's position on Biafra, Ayuk Tabe replied that then she does not have the correct facts. Now in Abuja, she is silent. January 8, 2018

In UN Bribery Case, Ho Again Seeks Bail, Saying CEFC Is With UN Like Salvation Army

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, letter; ICP in HK, here

UNITED NATIONS, January 6 – On November 20, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued an indictment against the head of the UN ECOSOC accredited China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC) Patrick Ho and former Senegal foreign minister Cheikh Gadio, accused together of bribing Chad's President Idriss Deby (as well as, for Ho, of bribing former UN President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, now as then the foreign minister of Uganda). Inner City Press has covered the case and repeatedly asked the UN why Secretary General Antonio Guterres has not even started an audit based on the indictment, including of how CEFC got its UN status and even remains in the UN Global Compact espousing anti-corruption goals. But Guterres has done nothing. Now Ho will be asking to be released on bail on January 8, and his argument includes that he is the head of "UN recognized" NGO similar, Ho's brief argues, to the American Bar Association, the Salvation Army and the World Jewish Congress. So the UN's inaction is now part of UN bribery indictee Ho's argument to be released. The filing, dated January 5, says Ho is "the leader of a non-governmental organization recognized by the United Nations....After leaving government service, Dr. Ho became the Deputy Chairman and Secretary General of the China Energy Fund Committee (“CEFC”), a Hong Kong based non governmental organization that has Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Other organizations with Special Consultative Status include the American Bar Association, the Salvation Army, and the World Jewish Congress." The proposal is for Ho to be released on $10 million bond secured by $2 million in cash, into home detention in Manhattan with electronic monitoring. We'll have more on this. January 1, 2018

In 2017 UN's Guterres Failed in Myanmar, Yemen & Cameroon, Amid Corruption, Censors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 30 – Antonio Guterres' year as UN Secretary General began by telling UN staff how much he respected them, but ended with Guterres on vacation while the UN budget was cut and staff ousted from their work-spaces, demoralized and disrespected.

In between Guterres delayed for months in responding to the slaughter of the Rohingya in Myanmar, out of too much deference to Aung San Suu Kyi. Guterres continued in Yemen with a Saudi-biased envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as ports were closed, children starved and cholera spread. Pressured to respond to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, his response was a brief stop-over in Yaounde where he accepted a golden statue from 35-year president Paul Biya.

 In November alone, Guterres ignored evidence that his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed undermined environmental protection, at a minimum, in signing 4000 certificates for endangered rosewood exported from Nigeria and Cameroon to China, then ignored a UN bribery indictment in the courts of Lower Manhattan. Guterres' UN used $1 million from the China Energy Fund Committee of indicted Patrick Ho even after the Press asked his spokesman about the indictment - and still no audit.

But little coverage either: Guterres eschewed press conference, holding none at the end of the year, but allowed himself to be sold for $1200 a pop at a fundraiser on Wall Street in mid-December. Inner City Press, which covered the event, is launching a series on Guterres' performance as UN Secretary General, even as he and his head of “Global Communications” Alison Smale keep Inner City Press more restricted than no-show no-question state media like Egypt's Akhbar al Yom, assigned the work-space it long shared along with the alternative Free UN Coalition for Access, pushing for a UN Freedom of Information Act.

A spotlight must be shined on this UN. Here a review of 2017, month by month.

January - February: In Antonio Guterres' first two months as UN Secretary General, the longstanding Cyprus talks began to fall apart, and Guterres stood silent as Burundi, for example, banned access by UN officials. Guterres ignored a protest by whistleblowers against Francis Gurry of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization, and that UN agency's work on North Korea's cyanide patents.

He did nothing about a UN waste dump exposed by Inner City Press in the Central African Republic, despite his predecessor Ban Ki-moon's record with waste in Haiti and elsewhere. While he announced that Kenyan troops would head back to South Sudan to join UN Peacekeeping, he appointed the fifth Frenchman in a row to head this DPKO, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

Meanwhile he was rebuffed in his attempt to appoint Fayyad to head the UN's Libya mission, perhaps explaining his refusal later in the year to take a single press question after reading out his canned statement on Jerusalem. In a harbinger of his approach to UN corruption and (non) reform, his UN was named as not providing requested documents in the first UN bribery case, of Ng Lap Seng. (In the second case, of Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio, Guterres has yet to even launch an audit).

February 2017 ended with a seeming second wind, the belated arrival of Guterres deputy Amina J. Mohammed. Inner City Press was throughout constructive; it would later emerge that during the delay Mohammed signed 4000 certificates for endangered Nigerian and Cameroonian rosewood already exported to China, something Guterres has refused to investigate despite a petition with 92,000 requests.  Guterres' first interaction with UN staff was a Town Hall meeting on January 9. Even though it was on the UN's public website, when Inner City Press live-streamed it on Periscope for the impacted public to see it received a threat that this violated unspecified UN's guidelines.

This has been a pattern in Guterres' first year: threats to Press for unspecified violations, such as that of Maher Nasser on October 20, and a total failure to respond or reform by Nasser's boss, Alison Smale. Ultimately, Guterres is responsible.

March - April: The spring thaw in Antonio Guterres' first year as UN Secretary General, in March and April, began to reveal hypocrisy. A small but telling example was when, after Guterres called on people all over the world to turn off their lights for Earth Hour, Inner City Press found the lights on at the UN-owned mansion on Sutton Place where Guterres lives.

At first the UN refused to answer Inner City Press where Guterres was - Lisbon - then accused it of “monitoring the residence.” It's called journalism: with the UN refusing to disclose even what country Guterres is in, checking the residence is the only way. The UN also refuses to disclose how much these Lisbon trips cost the global taxpayers, for example how many UN Security officials are taken, where they stay and for how much.

Likewise Guterres' 2016 financial disclosure differed significantly from what he filed as head of UNHCR in 2013. This has yet to be explained. In April Guterres was petitioned to replace the UN's pro-Saudi Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. But when Inner City Press asked, Guterres' spokespeople refused to even confirm receipt of the letter.

This happened on a petition by staff too, about retaliation by Francis Gurry the head of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization, whose assistance to North Korea's cyanide patents Guterres did not act on.

In late April, Guterres did nothing as Tanzania expelled his resident coordinator, a far cry from his knee-jerk defense later in the year - continuing on December 27 - of the 4000 rosewood signatures by his Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed. Sustainable development? Try hypocrisy, and censorship and restriction of the Press which covers it - and Cameroon, here. We'll have more on this.

May - June: As Antonio Guterres entered his fifth month as UN Secretary General in May 2017, there were still no reforms, and even his budget and reform speech was withheld when Inner City Press asked for a copy of it.

Rather than propose anything but deck-chair moving changes in UN bureaucracy - new acronyms, new Departments - Guterres seemed to believe his private meetings and canned speeches could do the trick. He met with 11 Congressmembers in May - all Democrats, Inner City Press' inquiry found - and gave a speech in South Carolina. But to what effect?

By year's end the UN budget would be cut by over $200 million with Guterres nowhere in sight, already on vacation in Lisbon, not even a comment for two days. In the real world, in South Sudan for example, leaked documents published by Inner City Press showed inaction as the SPLA moved toward a violent reclaiming of Pagak.

Amid the ongoing crackdown in Burundi, the best Guterres could do was a Burkina Faso based envoy, Michel Kafando, who would be only part-time Inner City Press learned though Guterres didn't tell the Security Council members that. He never had a comment on Morocco's crackdown in the Rif, despite dozens of questions from Inner City Press, perhaps thinking that silence might help on Western Sahara (it didn't).

On nuclear North Korea, Guterres did nothing as the UN Federal Credit Union did business with the mission and UN WIPO helped with cyanide patents.

In continuing Cameroon failure, Guterres' Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed appeared at the ghoulish “National Day” in a townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side; the Ambassador told Inner City Press due to her position on Biafra in “her” Nigeria, she would never support the Anglophones in his. She has yet to answer questions, initially surprising but after the rosewood scandal was revealed, more problematic. Scandals were coming...

July - August: Antonio Guterres first summer as Secretary General had a 14 day black hole in it, in which not only did he disappear but his spokespeople refused at first to confirm to Inner City Press even were he was: the Dalmatian coast.

He had failed on Cyprus, descending from the 38th floor for a mere three minute stakeout. He delegated the Cameroon conflict, unwisely, to his Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed, who was said by Paul Biya's Ambassador to be in the bag, firmly against any secession.

She had worked for Ban Ki-moon, whose era at the UN was indicted, and in essence convicted, along with Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng at the end of July. But Guterres doubled down in impunity, claiming that the UN was the victim of the scheme, even as its accomplices continued on the payroll. Guterres' UN was accused of racial discrimination in a Town Hall meeting he closed to the press - but what did he care?

He dodged questions about the crackdowns in Togo and Gabon and left, even at year's end, the UN Special Adviser on Africa position empty. In Kenya he called electoral official Msango's murder an “untimely demise,” alternately deferring to Ban Ki-moon's pro-Kenyatta son in law and then to his opposite, Roslyn Akombe. Apparently, Africa didn't and doesn't interest him.

In Europe, he supposed his group by ignoring Catalonia, even as he let sell-out Catalan Cristina “The Evicter” Gallach stay on too long as a representative to the UN's school. Her replacement Alison Smale was late in coming, and surrounded by the same staff like Guterres, would continue the same abuses and worse. The Fall was approaching...

September - October: Antonio Guterres' first UN General Assembly “high level” week as Secretary General featured a grip and grin with Egypt's Sisi witnessed only by Sisi's state media to whom Inner City Press' office is assigned under Guterres, a praise-fest with Cameroon's Paul Biya even as his forces killed Anglophone civilians and a total refusal to answer questions on UN corruption.

During the week, Haiti called on Guterres to belatedly do something about the 10,000 people the UN killed with cholera; Guterres has raised very little money and his envoy on the topic has yet to take Press questions.

Even when Guterres did, on September 13, he answered only on peacekeeper sexual abuse, entirely evading Inner City Press' question about the six UN bribery guilty verdicts in the case of Ng Lap Seng, for coverage of which Inner City Press was evicted and is still restricted under Guterres. Other corrupt events and bribery cases proceeded; Guterres' Secretariat took on a Junior Professional Officer from Kim Jong-Un's North Korea, while refusing to confirm the name.

By October, with his head of Global Communications vowing to spin the trip, Guterres took off for Central African Republic, refusing to answer why one of the only three officials criticized in the UN report on sexual abuse there, Renner Onana, remained in place, with promotion. On the way back, most tellingly, Guterres stopped in Younde and took a golden statue from Paul “The Killer” Biya, smiling. This is the symbol of Guterre's Secretary Generalship....

November - December 2017: As 2017 drew to a close UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres closed in on himself, like a small star collapsing, speaking only to friendly or paid media, accepting money from an already-indicted NGO then fleeing to Portugal, where he ended the year as the UN budget was cut. Was this what he was elected or selected for?

In early November Inner City Press had already just been threatened for covering his photo ops noticed after one a two-person lunch set-up on the 38th floor with the name plate, Gillian Tett. But Guterres' spokesman - and Ban K-moon's before that, who does that - refused to say what it was about.

It was an interview, with Guterres criticizing even the food at the UN and showing up. It left many UN staff and contractors disgusted. But with the threat of retaliation and many guards, Guterres was unaware.

What did he care, when 98,000 environmentalists asked him to investigate his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed for signing CITES certificates for endangered rosewood from Nigeria and Cameroon already in China? Rather than investigate, Guterres lashed out at a rare on the record Ambassador critic, from Kenya, calling him “unfair.”

This as Guterres and his head of Communications Alison Smale kept the critical Press restricted, refusing even to offer any explanation, using three time loser Maher Nasser to issue new threats. Even when the budget was cut and Inner City Press alone covered it, with one of Smale's minders to 2 am on Christmas Eve, Guterres was gone, in Portugal, an absentee UN slowly collapsing in on itself like a small star, refusing even on the last work day of the year to answer any Press questions, here. To be continued...

December 25, 2017

UN Over $5 Billion Budget Passed by UNGA With No Public Present, Holiday Tree and Carol, Here

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive, draft, photos, Video

UNITED NATIONS, December 24 – The UN's more than five billion dollar budget was supposed to be adopted by the UN's Fifth Committee on December 22 then, the Committee chairman told Inner City Press, noon on Saturday December 23. Ultimately the Committee approval didn't finish until 2 in the morning on Christmas eve, with the ultimate approval postponed until 10 am on Christmas eve. Inner City Press, the only media covering it, was required to get a UN "minder" to access the General Assembly, unlike other no-show non-critical UN resident correspondents. From a booth about the GA it Periscoped the approval, and even an impromptu holiday carol. And holiday was the word. While in previous hears a colorful Christmas tree has been displayed on the GA Hall after the last session, this year it was a generic pine tree with no ornaments. In all other ways, it was routine: opposition to Responsibility to Protect and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to funding the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 2231 (Iran) and 1559. Myanmar opposed any UN envoy being funded, but it passed 122 yes, 10 no, 24 abstaining.There was vague praise of reforms, even as absent S-G Guterres hasn't even ordered an audit of the most recent UN bribery indictment, much less his own Deputy's signing of 4000 rosewood certificates. Reform? And end of UN censorship of investigative Press? We will Press on this.
December 18, 2017

On Cameroon, Inner City Press Asks UN If Guterres Has Done Anything on Press Freedom, No, Failing Fall

By Matthew Russell Lee, UN Audio, Video, en francais

UNITED NATIONS, December 15 – After UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres accepted a golden statue from Cameroon's 35-year president Paul Biya in Biya's palace in Yaounde, Guterres again shook hands with Biya in Paris at the One Planet event, photo here; UN told Inner City Press no meeting was scheduled. And as of Deember 15 it seems clear Guterres has not lifted a finger on the case of journalist Patrice Nganang, jailed by Biya for ten days and counting. Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman at the December 15 UN noon briefing, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: wanted to ask you again about… about the journalist clocked up in Cameroon for ten days now, Patrice Nganang, who was, you know… basically had investigated the Anglophone areas and was picked up from the airport in Douala, is in jail, charged with insulting or threatening the president.  Has the UN done anything on that? Spokesman:  I don't have an update on the case in Cameroon." Later on December 15, Guterres was slated to be sold for $1200 a table at a Wall Street fundraiser; we'll have more on this. When Guterres' envoy Francois Lounceny Fall briefed the UN Security Council on December 13, he lumped Boko Haram and "the Anglophone separatist movement" in the same sentence. On UN Radio, Fall has equated secessionists with extremists. On December 13 he said "clashes have continued between radicals and government forces resulting in the death of security officers in the North-West and South-West regions likely to further inflame tensions." Wait, security officers were the only ones, even as implied here the first ones, to be killed? Inner City Press at noon on December 13, after Fall ran past it at the stakeout saying he had another meeting, asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq about it, UN transcript here and below. On December 14, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Haq again about Fall, who is failing on the Lord's Resistance Army (and Gabon) as well, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I'd asked you yesterday about whether Mr. [Francois Lounceny] Fall would answer questions, and many… given… after his briefing yesterday, many people, in looking at the paragraph on Cameroon, in particular, have many questions about it.  He referred to clashes between radicals.  And so people want to know, in the same way that he called secessionists extremists, what he meant by radicals.  I guess I'm just wondering, is he still in New York?  I know he was here Monday through Wednesday.  And is there some way to get him to clarify why… for example, the refugee flows into Nigeria are not mentioned in his report and sort of what he's actually doing on this issue? Deputy Spokesman:  Well, it's certainly his call whether he wants to come to the press.  He chose not to do that yesterday, but he did have an open briefing, and we provided the contents of he said.  Hold on.  Hold on. [Cutting Press offDecember 11, 2017

North Korea Said UN Feltman Agrees With Them On Sanctions, Now He Cites Funding Gaps

By Matthew Russell Lee, YouTube

UNITED NATIONS, December 9 – In North Korea accompanying UN Department of Political Affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman is a former staffer of his who now works directly with Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Katrin Hett. (UN's belated read-out below.) Inner City Press exclusively reported this on December 5, and after Guterres canceled his December 6 noon briefing for a stakeout at which he took no questions, asked for confirmation from UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, who typically refused. See below, with two more names. Now, because of today's UN secrecy, it is the North Korean government which has issued a read-out of the meetings: "the visit of Jeffrey Feltman, the undersecretary general for political affairs at the U.N., helped the communist nation and U.N. understand each other deeply, and the two sides agreed to have regular communications at various levels, according to the Korean Central News Agency. KCNA reported that North Korea told U.N. officials that current situation on the Korean Peninsula is due to the United States' threat and its wish to launch a nuclear attack against North Korea first. The U.N. officials responded that they will help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula by following the U.N. Charter, which states the organization's mission of maintaining international peace and security, the KCNA added. According to the KCNA, Feltman recognized international sanctions against North Korea are having a negative influence on humanitarian aid there. He visited a children's food factory and a hospital in Pyongyang on Thursday. Feltman was expected to leave Pyongyang on a North Korean Air Koryo passenger jet to land in Beijing on Saturday." Maybe Feltman will speak there, as he so rarely has in his more than five years at the UN. Hett has yet to speak. While SG Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric did not initially confirm Inner City Press noting in "his" UN Press Briefing room that Feltman's predecessor and Ban's brain Kim Won-soo visited DPRK in February 2010 and now some surmise why. The month after that visit described by both as this one should be as having been successful, North Korea sunk South Korea's Cheonan ship, killing 46. And this time? Guterres himself, typically, is avoiding the Press. But multiple sources tell Inner City Press Guterres doled out quotes to media from a major UN funder. This before he whispers again on December 15 in a Wall Street event he'll be sold for $1200 a table at. We'll have more on this. For now, Feltman has issued this read-out: "Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman visited the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from 5 to 8 December 2017. Mr. Feltman had a series of meetings with H.E. Mr. RI Yong Ho, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and H.E. Mr. PAK Myong Guk, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, of the DPRK. They exchanged views on the Korean Peninsula and agreed that the current situation was the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today. Mr. Feltman emphasized the need for the full implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions.  He also said there can only be a diplomatic solution to the situation, achieved through a process of sincere dialogue. Time is of the essence.   Noting the urgent need to prevent miscalculations and open channels to reduce the risks of conflict, Mr. Feltman underlined that the international community, alarmed by escalating tensions, is committed to the achievement of a peaceful solution to the situation on the Korean Peninsula.  Mr. Feltman also met with the United Nations Country Team and members of the diplomatic corps, and visited UN project sites, including a children’s foodstuff factory, TB prevention institute, breast tumour institute, and paediatric hospital. During the site visits he learned about the UN’s life-saving work on the ground as well as the challenges in procurement and funding gaps." And on this: in advance of a December 11, 11:30 am North Korea human rights event announced by the US, it belatedly emerges that the UN Security Council is set to hold a procedural vote at 10 am for a human rights meeting in the Council. Inner City Press twice asked Japan's Koro Bessho, the Council's president for December, about this. The first time he said it was still being worked on. The second time, he walked away. And it was his deputy, not him, who appeared at the Council stakeout on the afternoon of December 8. Inner City Press asked a question and it was partially answered. But it was not Bessho. More on this - and on Feltman and his team's trip to North Korea. It is customary to at least disclose the identities of such a delegation. And so today Inner City Press names two others accompanying Feltman: unsurprisingly the UN Resident Coordinator in DPRK since 2015, Tapan Mishra formerly of Burma Shell Co, and surprising to some, Department of Political Affairs staffer Samuel Martell of the UK, in his position since October 2014. We'll have more on these, amid Guterres increasingly shrunk UN transparency. He banned the Press from his swearing-in of Global Communications boss Alison Smale; now he says that unlike even Ban Ki-moon, he will hold no end of the year press conference, while arranging to be sold on Wall Street for $1200 a table. This is today's UN. As to Hett, she was suggested to (or some say, planted with) Guterres by Feltman during the former's transition, and since then Hett has nearly always been at Guterres' side. For example she took an August 2017 photograph of Guterres with Palestine Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah published by the UN Department of Public Information. Inner City Press exclusively quoted DPA whistleblowers that Hett reported back to Feltman all of the people Guterres was interviewing to staff up his administration. (Guterres' spokesman called the questioning despicable.) Now Hett is in North Korea, with Feltman - and Guterres excluded the Press from his December 6 swearing-in of DPI's Alison Smale, here. Guterres is sure to hype up his wor on North Korea in connection with his December 13-14 trip to Japan. But what about Hett? To some, the UN is beginning to mirror Feltman and Hett's host.December 4, 2017

On Cameroon, ICP Asked UN of Biya Calling Secessionists Terrorists, Now He Orders "Relocations"

By Matthew Russell Lee, UN Audio

UNITED NATIONS, December 1 – A week after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres accepted a golden statue from Cameroon's 35-year president Paul Biya in Biya's palace in Yaounde, there were threats of prosecution against people who refuse to celebrate Biya's 35 years in power. Photo of letter here. So is this was Guterres celebrates, under the Guterres Doctrine? What is the relation to the illegal lumber exports signed off on by Guterres' Deputy, Amina J. Mohammed in the #RosewoodRacket? There were threats to Inner City Press' accreditation at the UN, here. Now upon Paul Biya's return from the African Union - EU summit in Abidjan he has "declared war" on what he calls secessionist terrorists in Ambazonia or Southern Cameroons. Inner City Press asked the UN about it and UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric only said they are "still looking at" or studying what Biya said. Now orders have been issued for civilians to "relocate" and for business people to stop working. See order here. We'll have more on this. This echoes what the UN's Francois Fall said, on Alison Smale's UN Radio no less, that secessionists are extremists and even Federalism is not on the table. The UN has thrown gasoline on this conflict, far from engaging in the preventative diplomacy that Antonio Guterres, when running for his post, said he was about. In the UN, he and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed have kept up Press restrictions and censorship. On December 1 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Biya's comment. Dujarric said the UN is still trying to study them - it's not hard, they're on YouTube, here - and said the last time Guterres spoke with Biya was in October (that is, over the golden statue). Now what? In Bamenda, local journalist Elvis McCarty (some say Elvis Macarty) was reportedly roughed up by Paul Biya's security forces, the tools of his journalistic trade confiscated and/or broken, with him being accused of being a secessionist - or, as the UN's Francois Fall has put it, an "extremist." And while Guterres and his envoy Failing Fall purport to urge dialogue in CameroUN on "the Anglophone issue," when the issue was raised in Parliament in Yaounde, there was a walk-out. some dialogue. Meanwhile the Swiss government has responded in a November 17 letter obtained and published by Inner City Press to issues raised by Southern Cameroonians there. On November 21, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask a question about Cameroon.  In the south-west region, a video emerged basically of authorities ordering people out of their cars and to walk on their knees, very much to humiliate them, etc.  And so, people… one, they've wondered, like, what's the status of the UN's call for dialogue since they don't see this as dialogue?  And, number two, they've seen that the Swiss ambassador has said publicly that he visited the area and is very concerned.  So, the question, I guess, I had is whether François Fall, in his various visits… has he actually gone to those regions of the country?  Does he have an intention to go?  Has he requested to go but been rebuffed?  How can it be that the ambassador of a country based in Yaoundé has more… has greater access than the UN… UNOCA [United Nations Office in Central Africa] representative? Spokesman:  "Well, Mr. Fall works out his itinerary with the authorities as he can.  Whenever we have further travel for him… by him to announce, we will." Well. Meanwhile another part of the UN system -- independent experts whom the UN Secretariat emphasizes are NOT the UN -- has belatedly spoken out where Guterres, Amina "Rosewood" Mohammed and Francois Fall have not. But then Fall essentially undercut the experts, focusing on attacks on security forces and... territorial integrity. Here's from Failing Fall's UNOCA: "The United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) continues to closely monitor the situation in the North-West and South-West Regions of Cameroon... Mr. François Louncény Fall seizes this opportunity to recall the commitment of the United Nations to the territorial integrity and unity of Cameroon." On November 17, Inner City Press asked Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Tweeted video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: this François [Louncény] Fall statement.  And the reason I'm asking is that, as you may know five experts of Geneva-based special rapporteurs, including on freedom of expression, defense of human right defenders and others, issued a statement. The statement is largely focused on abuses by the Government of Anglophones, censorship, turning off social media.  They have a[n artificially low] death figure.  They talk about torture.  I know that they're not part of the UN system.  They do give briefings in this room.  They are appointed by the Human Rights Council.  What's the relationship between human rights experts saying the Government is killing Anglophones and François Fall saying territory is important and gendarmes have been killed? It seems like they're two opposing statements.November 27, 2017

On UN Bribery Case, ICP Asked of Guterres Use of CEFC Funds, Kutesa Travel, UN Half-Answers

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video , ICP in Hong King, here

UNITED NATIONS, November 24 – On November 20, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued an indictment against former Senegal foreign minister Cheikh Gadio as well as against the head of the China Energy Fund Committee Patrick Ho, who is accused of bribing former UN President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, now as then the foreign minister of Uganda. Contrary to the indictment which says Kutesa stepped down as Foreign Minister during his year as UN PGA, Inner City Press asked him on September 14, 2015 and Kutesa said, "I am still foreign minister." Scoop here, video here. While the UN of Secretary General Antonio Guterres, even after the indictment and Inner City Press' public questions went forward on November 21 with CEFC's money, see below, in Kampala members of Parliament are calling for Kutesa to resign as foreign minister. On November 24, Inner City Press asked three of Guterres' spokespeople questions, including: "in light of the indictment announced Nov 20 involving Patrick Ho of CEFC, Cheikh Gadio and alleging acts by former UN PGA Sam Kutesa and others, please provide a list of all funds received by the UN or any of its funds, programs or agencies from CEFC or its affiliates, the use of those funds and how much remains, and all information regarding selection processes for disbursement of the funds. Please provide dates and details of CEFC's sponsorship of events in the UN, and interactions with ECOSOC, for the past five years. Also please state the status of Cheikh Gadio's entry into the UN, whether via the OIC or otherwise. Regarding the year in which Sam Kutesa was UN PGA, please provide a list of all UN funds used for his travel, including but not limited to China or Uganda, the composition of his delegation(s) and any and all Special Advisers to the PGA that he named. There will be more questions." There certainly will be. Because this is the entirety of the UN's response to the above: "On the CEFC, we have the following information: The decision to grant consultative status lies with Member States and is exercised through the Economic and Social Council and its Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. Under the resolution, consultative status may be established with organizations a) concerned with matters falling within the competence of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies; b) whose aims and purposes are in conformity with the spirit, purpose and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and c) that can contribute to the work of the UN in accordance with their own aims and purposes and the nature and scope of their competence and activities. Special consultative status is conferred to organizations that have a special competence in or are concerned with a limited number of fields of activity covered by the Council and its subsidiary bodies. Regarding questions concerning Sam Kutesa, please address those to the Government of Uganda, for which he was working, including during his time as President of the General Assembly." That is, there is no explanation of Guterres' DESA using CEFC's funds after the indictment, no information about UN spending on Kutesa's trip(s) to China. A total cover-up. Meanwhile the UN, implicated, canceled Guterres' photo op involving the CEFC money but went forward and used it, while the event remained on the schedule of Guterres' Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed, embroiled in a scandal involving the signing of 4,000 certificates for rosewood illegal logged in Cameroon and Nigeria and already in China. Ironically, she will be delivering the "Nelson Mandela" address. We'll have more on this.November 20, 2017

UN Spox Runs From DSG Rosewood Qs, Now Guterres Is Petitioned by 62,000 to Probe, Recuse

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video I, II, III, IV, V

UNITED NATIONS, November 17 – The export to China of illegally harvested rosewood, reported on by Le Monde on November 3 with reference to UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed who signed the certificates, also involves "smuggling from Cameroon." See EIA video, here. On November 14, for the second day in a row, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about what Amina Mohammed knew, and when, and he again refused to answer. Nov 14 video here. But from the UN's resident coordinator in Kenya Sid Chatterjee, given the position by his father in law Ban Ki-moon and now or soon reporting to Amina Mohammed, the spin that the detailed Rosewood Racket report is "fake news." Is this? An environmental group has launched a petition to get Ban's successor Antonio Guterres to investigate Mohammed. Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Dujarric about the petition, now at 62,000 signatures, and about Mohammed recusing herself, on November 17, Periscope video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Yesterday, I had asked you about… about some questions about this rosewood situation, and I want to say that yesterday, there were 46,000 people petitioning for the Secretary-General.  Now, there's 62,000.  But you had said to me, go and read Le Monde, so I did read Le Monde, and there's no mention of Cameroon in it, but, in fact, in the report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, there is… and in other reports, there are talk that some of these logs don't over come from Nigeria, which would make them outright illegal, signing any certificate for their export.  So, I wanted to… this is the kind of thing I would like to ask Amina Mohammed if she did a press conference, just what did she know about… I'm sure there's answers.  I'm sure there's many things that could be said. Spokesman:  Next time she's in front of the press, she will be… she has engaged with journalists who have written stories on this and has not been hiding from anything.  Quite to the contrary.  We have said what we've had to say.  I think any further questions on how this issue is dealt with should go to the Nigerian Government. Inner City Press: But just so you know, the petitioners are not writing to the Nigerian Government.  They’re saying that there’s inconsistencies… Spokesman:  I've answered the question about the petitioners. Inner City Press: This is kind of a related question that you may or may not like, but there's a lot of interest by… by Greenpeace and other environmental organizations in a… in a… in a move by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to end what's called an embargo on logging, or an embargo on new, you know, industrial logging concessions.  And so people… I could imagine a UN body or the Secretariat itself, since it relates to climate change, might have a position on this.  Sorry to ask you, but given the 62,000 signatures, would Amina Mohammed, otherwise, you know, responsible for sustainable development on many issues, would she be recused from deciding the Secretariat's position on logging matters until this logging matter is cleaned up? Spokesman:  You’re jumping over conclusions that, I think, that have… over facts that have been an Olympic record. Inner City Press: Read the petition. Spokesman:  I'm not talking about the petition.  I'm talking about your… the logic within your question.  I think Amina Mohammed has, in her past capacity, in her current capacity, has been a very strong advocate against illegal logging and has shown that through her actions.  Thank you." Then he ran off the podium.  Inner City Press had asked him on November 16, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  I want to ask you about, again, this rosewood situation. Yesterday I'd asked what I think is a simple question, whether the certificates, the thousands of certificates, that the Deputy Secretary-General signed were filed in real time with CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna] as seems to be required.  I don't know if I'm going to get an answer to that, but I have a different, I guess, superseding question, which is that there's now online, launched by a group called Rainforest Rescue, a petition to Secretary-General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres to investigate the allegations against Amina J. Mohammed.  The international community must prosecute criminals between timber trafficking.  And it has 46,000 signatures so far.  So what's this procedure… can I just finish the question?  What is the procedure in the United Nations for a civil society petition such as this which has garnered 46,000 requests in a very short period of time?  Will the Secretary-General actually compare the report to what's been said publicly by Amina J. Mohammed and consider these environmental people's deep concern about it? Spokesman:  First of all, we receive petitions all the time, and they're looked at and… Inner City Press: Is there a threshold? Spokesman:  We value as a matter of principle our engagement with civil society.  We have spoken and have said what we've had to say on behalf of the Deputy Secretary-General, including the fact that she has… she followed all the rules.  If there are questions about CITES and the workings of the Nigerian Ministry of Environment, I would encourage you to talk to the Nigerian Ministry of Environment.  The Secretary-General has full confidence and continues to have full confidence in the Deputy Secretary-General. Inner City Press: Separate question.  Separate question.  Was she aware… this is not about CITES.  Was she aware… the report says that much of the timber that was actually exported comes from Boko Haram territories, i.e., money would go to Boko Haram.  And some of it was illegally smuggled from Cameroon, so it's a question that's not addressed by any… Spokesman:  I think it is addressed… it's addressed in the statement.  I would also encourage you to read the lengthy Q&A she did with Le Monde." But the petition was launched after that. When will Mohammed answer Press questions? Will Guterres, as petitioned, investigate?

From the petition: "UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed has been implicated in rosewood trafficking. The former Nigerian Minister of Environment is said to have acted to facilitate the sale of 10,000 shipping containers of illegal rosewood to China. Tell the UN to prosecute the criminals behind timber trafficking. To: the UN Member States, the CITES Signatory States and the CITES Secretariat. The UN Deputy Secretary-General has been implicated in the illegal sale of rosewood. The UN must prosecute the criminals behind timber trafficking.... Chinese authorities played an uncharacteristically positive role in the incident by seizing no less than 10,000 shipping containers of illegal rosewood. The timber is valued at more than $300 million. According to the EIA, the Nigerian Ministry of Environment responded by simply issuing the missing documents retroactively. This allowed over 1.4 million illegal logs to be laundered, in violation of both Nigerian laws and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The traffickers allegedly bribed senior Nigerian officials – including ministers and members of parliament – with more than US $1 million. The scandal is an impressive illustration of the power wielded by the timber mafia. The then Minister of Environment, Amina J. Mohammed, appears to have personally signed the fraudulent documents as one of her last actions in office. She is currently serving as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Mohammed has since denied the allegations. Please call on UN Secretary-General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres to investigate the allegations against Amina J. Mohammed. The international community must prosecute the criminals behind timber trafficking." Then again, Guterres and Mohammed have been ignoring a petition to end Press censorship, here. We'll have more on this. On November 15, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Rosewood Racket and the report that was put out by the Environmental Investigation Agency.  And it's a very detailed report.  And one… and I've read what was put out by the Secretary-General [sic] [ICP: it is unclear why the UN inserted "sic" here - Dujarric said the SG supports the DSG.]  I've read what her interview with the… of the Cab… the Pulse, the Cable.  And what I wanted to ask you is, when she signed these 4,000 certificates, CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna] regulations require that they be filed with the Secretariat of CITES if they are, in fact, retroactive.  And so… it's not answered anywhere.  And I'd like you to either maybe get an answer from her or have her have a press conference when she comes back.  If that was committed to, that would seem to be the way to go.  Were these certificates ever filed with CITES, given the various pronouncements that it's made by this Secretariat about commitment to these regulations? Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I believe Stéphane [Dujarric] has already given you the details of where we stand on this.  I don't have anything further to add on this.  If the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, has any actions, we can evaluate it at that time.  But, at this stage, we've said what we've said on terms of her actions.
Inner City Press: My question is, he said… I mean, I'm asking a question.  He said, your question is answered by the statement by the Secretary-General, but it's not answered.  It's a straight, factual question.  Were… she signed the certificates.  Were they, in fact, filed with the CITES Secretariat as required? It's just a yes or no… Deputy Spokesman:  The Deputy Secretary-General has made clear that she followed the procedures that were supposed to be followed in what she was doing. Inner City Press: The reason I'm asking you this is because the Resident Representative of the UN in Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee, has today issued an interview saying that the whole report is fake news and she's a great person.  She may be a great person, but what I wanted to know is, is he speaking on behalf Amina Mohammed or the UN system when he says this detailed report of… of seeming violations is CITES regulations is fake news? Deputy Spokesman:  "I don't have to comment for him.  He's offering his personal view.  This is… that's outside of his particular area." Oh. Chatterjee says he too has been the victim - the reference is to nepotism in his promotions, from Iraq with Steffan de Mistura under Ban and forward from there, and IPKF war crimes in Sri Lanka.  Sid says: "having been a target of malicious and fake news myself for close to 10 years, let me just begin by saying that I feel very sorry for Amina Mohammed. It is most unfair. This is yellow journalism and premeditated mendacity." This is the response to detailed questions about retroactive CITES permits for rosewood, illegally smuggled from Cameroon. We'll have more on this. From the November 14 UN transcript: Inner City Press: I want to ask you about this rosewood situation.  I'd asked you yesterday.  You'd said that everything is answered in the statement... So, my question is as follows, and it's not answered by the Secretary-General's statement.  The allegation in the report, and it's documented by a guy holding up a sheet of paper that has bill of lading numbers on it, is that, at the time that Amina Mohammed signed thousands of certificates in January 2017, that this wood was already in China, that the state… that the… that the… the certificates were backdated, which is, under CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna], a major problem.  So, I wanted to know… she says that there's no evidence of that, but the evidence is in the report, and I'm directing you to figure 33… Spokesman:  I've read the report. Inner City Press: Okay.  So what is her response to that? And how could the Secretary-General say “I back her up entirely” in advance of the CITES meeting that's coming up in late November? Given that the CITES is part of the UN system, will he defer to them? If they find wrongdoing, will he take action? Spokesman:  I think the statement that we issued is pretty comprehensive.  The… Ms. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General, said the signing of the legal signing of export permits for rosewood was delayed due to her insistence that stringent due process was followed.  She said she signed the export certificates requested before the ban only after due process was followed and better security watermarked certificates became available.
Inner City Press:  Is it permissible to sign certificates when the wood is already in China? Spokesman:  You're making that assumption.  I think she's answered… she's… she's answered the question. Inner City Press: That's why I think she should do a press conference on it.  It's a major… given that you talk about the environmental SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals], here are many people who think that the answer is insufficient Spokesman:  She's answered the question." No, she hasn't. And the UN says she will stay on the road until November 20. On November 13, Inner City Press asked Dujarric to answer basic questions, but he refused. Video here