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May 30, 2016

As Ban Politics in S. Korea, Hankyoreh Notes ICP's Qs About Kim

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 28 -- Soon to be ex-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in his native South Korea, where there is a Presidential election in 2017. On May 19, only to South Korean correspondents, Ban Ki-moon's senior adviser Kim Won-soo said and was quoted that Ban's is NOT a political trip. Clearly it is. Ban's "exclusive" comments to more than a dozen journalists in South Korea, photo here, were not transcribed despite the request of the Free UN Coalition for Access.

But there's a problem: not only Inner City Press -- see article in the Kyunghyang Daily News, robo-translated -- but now The Economist calls Ban Ki-moon the worst and weakest Secretary General ever.

 And as Inner City Press has asked basic questions about Ban's use of UN resources and had them dodged, now the media in South Korea is taking notice. The Hankyoreh of May 28, here, reports on Inner City Press asking "whether Ban was aware of UN Resolution II (I), which was adopted at the first General Assembly in 1946 and restricts secretaries-general from taking government positions soon after their term ends... But Haq’s response appeared to be to a completely different question - neither communicating Ban’s response nor mentioning the resolution." Slippery or greasy eel.

(Hankyoreh also says "The unusual spectacle of the Secretary-General’s actions becoming the major issue in a UN briefing - which is typically reserved for major worldwide issues - hints that the controversy over Ban’s political plans could be shaping into an international diplomatic issue." A simple review of recent UN noon briefing transcripts or videos would call this into question - but it has become the party line, as in the New York Times of May 14.)

Meanwhile on May 28 Ban continued his politics, meeting with retired politicians, such as former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil. On May 29 he'll speak at " Rotary International Convention in Goyang, just outside of Seoul, and visit the ruling party stronghold of Gyeongsang to tour a UNESCO-listed folk village on Sunday." Since these are NOT on his public UN schedule, does it mean they are personal / political? And then the UN DPI NGO conference, on which we'll have more. Watch this site.

Ban can and has evicted Inner City Press from its long time office at the UN -- but he can't change the track record, from his victory lap in Sri Lanka in 2009, which Inner City Press reported on, to further damaging the UN's reputation in Haiti by insisting on impunity for cholera, to his negligent overseeing of rapes in the Central African Republic. For the record, what Inner City Press told the Kyunghyang Shinmun, when asked about the eviction and ouster, was not entirely negative. But more on that to follow.  May 23, 2016

UN Censors Q About Ban & Freedom of the Press from Transcript, New Low

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 20 -- For ten years as Inner City Press covered the UN in ever greater detail, showing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Herve Ladsous' inept overseeing and cover up of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers, disparate treatment in Mali, dalliance with genocide in Sri Lanka and prospectively Burundi, impunity for cholera deaths in Haiti and until now for UN lead poisoning in Kosovo and cravenly pro-Saudi position on Yemen amid the airstrikes, it was never thrown out of the UN.

Now it has been. New York Times of May 14 here.  And even as groups like the Government Accountability Project tell Ban to reverse the eviction and give Inner City Press back its long time office and Resident Correspondent pass, Ban's UN tellingly moved to award Inner City Press' office to Egypt state media Al-Akhbar / Akhbar Elyoum.  Tweeted photograph here.

On May 19, a sign for "Al Akhbar Yom" went up on Inner City Press' office - Inner City Press has STILL never seen the correspondent being given the stolen office.

So on May 20 Inner City Press went to get an on the record explanation from Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Duajrric, before Ban sets out on a campaign trip to South Korea (denied by his senior adviser Kim Won-soo). But not only did Dujarric refuse to answer the question - Gallach's DPI intentionally omitted from the transcript Inner City Press' entirely audible question about Ban Ki-moon's commitment to freedom of the press. The question then, answer itself.

Since the spin to the NYT is that Inner City Press' questions on corruption and censorship somehow block questions other correspondents want to ask, Inner City Press twice told Dujarric it would hold one question to the end. But Dujarric, showing that the spin is a scam, insisted: go ahead. Video here. From the UN Transcript:

Inner City Press: I have another question, but I don't want to…

Spokesman:  Well, just ask it.

Inner City Press:  No, no, I'll wait.

Spokesman:  I'd like you to ask it now.

Question:  Okay.  Stay where you are and I’ll do it as fast as I can.  I wanted to ask you, you sometimes say you don’t have a long memory, but you’ve been a Spokesman for a while.  When is the last time, to your knowledge, that the publication Akhbar al Youm has been in this room and asked a question?  And the reason I asked… you said I could ask.  I’ll do it quickly.  The office that was formerly "Inner City Press", has been given to this organization.  I've never seen them here.  I'm aware there's a rule of being three days a week here.  So, I’m wondering… and you used to implement that rule.  And the reason I’m asking you, and you’re going to say, ask MALU [Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit], I want an on the record quote.  This is a media organization that CPJ [Committee to Protect Journalists] says targets other medias for arrest for not agreeing with the Government.

Spokesman:  I will tell you that I do not have in my head the attendance records of journalists here.  Some of you are here every day.  But, for the rest of you, I don't keep tabs in my head.  And again, that’s a question for you to ask MALU.

Inner City Pres:  But, I'm asking for an on-the-record comment.  What does it say about freedom of the press…

Spokesman:  I’ve given you… Nabil?

Inner City Press' last line, "What does it say about freedom of the press," was intentionally mistranscribed and censored: it said, What does it say about Ban Ki-moon's commitment to freedom of the press."


This is today's UN: ham-handed censorship. 

The UN says Resident Correspondents must be at the UN three days a week, but Inner City Press has never seen this person, former UN Correspondents Association president Sanaa Youssef, much less asking a question in the UN noon briefing. 

The point, of course, which Dujarric did everything he could to cut off, including walking out of the brieifng room and not returning, is what does it say about Ban Ki-moon's supposed commitment to free press to evict the investigative Press here every day for a state media never here, never with questions, which targets other journalists for arrest?

The question is answering itself, but we will continue. Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq after the briefing was heard telling DPI staff under Gallach that he had predicted Inner City Press would "go after" Akhbar Elyom.

This is today's UN: here's Haq on Jan 29, video here, and before. Haq claimed incorrectly that "non resident correspondent" passes get one through to the second floor: either years out of date or intentional inaccurate. This too is today's UN.

Scribes speaking off the record according to the New York Times of May 14 "accused [ICP] of printing gossip, rumors." That UNCA's president rented an apartment to Palitha Kohona then granted his request to screenin the UN his government's war crimes denial film is no rumor or gossip.

But Akhbar Elyom, to which Gallach's and Ban's MALU and UNCA have given Inner City Press' office, not only gets journalists in Egypt attested - it targets, with a "Muslim Brotherhood" smear, a journalist who works right in the UN. Arabic article here.

This is the journalism that Ban Ki-moon and his Cristina Gallach want and reward. By taking away Inner City Press' office, it is now required to have a minder and is told to not ask diplomats questions. This is censorship.

Akhbar Elyom has been used to finger for imprisonment non-state journalists in Egypt. For example, in July 2015 Aboubakr Khallaf, the founder and head of the independent Electronic Media Syndicate (EMS), “was arrested after a news article was published by the government-owned daily Akhbar Elyoum.”
May 16, 2016

Press on UN Rape & Genocide Accepted, But Ban's Corruption Triggered Eviction

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 14 -- For ten years as Inner City Press covered the UN in ever greater detail, showing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's dalliance with genocide in Sri Lanka, impunity for cholera deaths in Haiti and inept overseeing of peacekeeper rapes, it was never thrown out of the UN.

Only when it questioned Ban's and its PR official Cristina Gallach's role in the John Ashe, Ng Lap Seng and Francis Lorenzo UN bribery scandal did Gallach order Inner City Press ousted then evicted, and now try to give its office to an Egyptian media which rarely or never asked questions. Ban Ki-moon claimed “That is not my decision,” but that is not true.

  The New York Times has now covered the story, and Inner City Press is not one to nit-pick such coverage. At least Ban's Spokesman Stephane Dujarric went on the record, admitting Inner City Press' access has been cut.

    UN Correspondents Association boss Giampaolo Pioli lied, but at least on the record. (He rented one of his Manhattan apartments to Palitha Kohona then granted Kohona's request, as Sri Lanka's Ambassador, to screen his government's war crimes denial film in the UN. Then Pioli told Inner City Press to take its story about it off the Internet or be thrown out of the UN, which Gallach and Ban did: UN Censorship Alliance.)

  But what's next? Is it acceptable for the UN to throw out a critical journalist writing four to eight stories a day, while leaving in people who write little, and ask nothing? Is Ban Ki-moon killing the UN? Watch this site.

The UN is now both corrupt -- a half a dozen indictments and counting, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cavorting with the indicted and his team covering it up -- retaliatory and badly run.

Now the UN is moving to give away Inner City Press' long time office as retaliation for its seeking to cover the bribery and corruption scandal, including  trying to cover a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room of the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA), a group which took money from the indicteds' company, Ban Ki-moon's “Communications” chief Cristina Gallach threw Inner City Press out of the UN on February 19.

So to whom does the UN seek to give Inner City Press' office away? A former UNCA President, who it seems has not asked any question, much less a critical question, in the UN Press Briefing Room or stakeout in quite some time.

Inner City Press has in the past defended correspondents when the UN sought late in their careers to move them along, and is treading lightly for now: perhaps this former UNCA President didn't know the history here.

(The current UNCA website doesn't even list its past Presidents, perhaps wisely: it seems to be a Year Zero operation.)

But what is the UN's rationale of giving away the office of a working, critical journalist to a former UNCA president who asks even fewer questions than the current UNCA president?

It's called retaliation, or some say, human shields. Who is responsible?

Audio hereBan, when asked, said “that is not my decision.” But he heard about the ouster and eviction in advance and ok-ed it.

On April 16, the acting chief of Gallach's “Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit Tal Mekel oversaw the eviction of Inner City Press' office, leaving five boxes of its files out on First Avenue. Video here.

Some in Ban's team indicated to Inner City Press its office would be left empty until its four month “purgatory” or punishment-for-reporting period was over.

That was a lie: on May 13, after Inner City Press asked more questions about Ban's engagements with John Ashe and Francis Lorenzo - president of South South News which paid UNCA and still has a UN office - Inner City Press was informed that its long time office is being given out

May 9, 2016

ICP Asks UN About Lack of Whistleblower Protections, Miranda Brown, Retaliation

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 5 -- While many try to insulate today's UN from the open corruption of the recent past of President of the General Assembly John Ashe, there is continuity to this UN scandal - and to the UN's failure to protect whistleblowers.

   As UN officials including Cristina Gallach, whose involvement in the scandal is detailed in the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services audit at Paragraphs 37 to 40 and 20(b) have moved to evict Inner City Press  from the UN premises (video here) and restrict its access, Inner City Press on May 4 asked UN Under Secretary-General for Management Yukio Takasu about two portions of the OIOS audit. Video here, see below.
The UN Controller, with Takasu, said she is working on whistleblower protections, in light of a US Law making 15% contingent on improvements in whistleblower protection.

So on May 5, Inner City Press returned and asked Ban's spokesman about it, video here  UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: Yesterday, the comptroller in the… said that the UN is continuing to work on whistle-blower protections, and she cited the US law that would require a cut of funding if whistle-blowers aren't protected.  So, I wanted to ask you, today the Government Accountability Project has… has highlighted the case of Miranda Brown, who was fired from the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) as part of the Anders Kompass case.  She's asked to be reinstated.  And they have a very long analysis, but they say one line I want to ask you to respond directly to.  They say:  "In a setting such as the UN where public access to information does not exist and where virtually all operations are governed only by the opaque internal legal process of the institution itself, whistle-blowers have an absolutely crucial function."  Can you say, number one, do you… are you aware of the Miranda Brown case?  And what do you think of her firing at the time?  Two, what's the work on whistle-blower protections that the comptroller was referring to?  And do you disagree that there is, in fact, not a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] at the UN to receive information and that the internal process…

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:  I think the… on Miranda Brown, I have nothing to add to what we've already said on that case.  Obviously, the… you know, whistle-blower protect… the work of whistle-blowers is very important.  I know there are efforts to improve the current policies.  When we have something to announce, I'm sure we will.  And I think the UN is… there's a lot of information that is freely available.  Now, I know there is no equivalent of the FOIA, and again, I think to… I answered that the other day, which is that it's in the hands of the Member States.

rrovements in whistleblower protection

   How was indicted Ng Lap Seng's Global Sustainability Foundation's “sponsorship” of the UN slavery memorial opening event, featuring Ban Ki-moon, accounted for in the UN budget?

  Takasu gamely said that “in-kind” contributions are not quantified or listed. If so, how many other events did Ng Lap Seng entities sponsor? Inner City Press asked how Takasu's Assistant Secretary General of the Office of Central Support Services allowed Ng Lap Seng's June 30, 2015 event in the UN Vistitors Lobby, also with no due diligence by Gallach's DPI, to go forward. Things slip between the cracks, Takasu said, indicating that he would like to tighten things up.

 So how much more slipped through the cracks? And how was Gallach allowed -- or encouraged -- to retaliate against the Press which is pursuing and asking about this story? Given that Gallach clearly should have recused itself, when will Inner City Press be restored to its shared office and Resident Correspondent accreditation status?

Inner City Press On May 2 asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric if any of the OIOS recommendations due April 30 had been implemented. No information has been provided.

May 2, 2016

ICP Asks UN of US Bill on Peacekeeper Rapes, UN Doesn't Keep Records

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 20-- How low has the UN fallen, in terms of corruption, not stopping rapes, and retaliating against the Press that asks the questions? April 16 eviction here and here.

  Now that a bill on UN peacekeepers' sexual abuse and exploitation has passed the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Inner City Press on April 29 asked the spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon what he thought of the bill, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  I want to ask you about a bill that was passed out of committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, regarding, among other things, sexual abuse in UN peacekeeping.  Senators [Bob] Corker and [Ben] Cardin had said that the bill reminds that prohibitions on funding for gross human rights abuses also applies to UN peacekeeping operations.  I wanted to know, given that this may have an impact on UN funding and given the hearings that were held and the statement that the Secretary-General was inept on this issue, what is your response to the bill passing committee?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Well, I think, you know, many bills go through many legal procedures in 193 Member States.  We're not going to start commenting on each bill as it passes various hurdles in each country's legislative process.  I think the Secretary-General very much shares the concerns of all Member States on issues of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers and other international forces.  I think the Secretary-General has been very much focused on ensuring that Member States do their part and ensuring that the UN system does their part and ensuring that we put the victims at the centre of everything that we do in order to combat this issue.

Inner City Press:  But I guess what I wanted to know is, since the bill does sort of link or say that it's possible that UN peacekeeping is involved in, quote, gross human rights abuses, I wanted to know: do you have a response to that?  And do you have an answer to yesterday I'd asked you about a 61-year-old truck driver in Bangui?

Spokesman Dujarric:  No.  I was expecting something.  I don't have anything on that.

Inner City Press:  Do you have any records of who was killed? [Inner City Press actually said, does the UN even keep records on who it kills?]

Spokesman:  Matthew, as I said, I'm trying to get some information on it.  I will get it to you as soon as I can.  No one more than the Secretary-General is concerned anytime anyone, whether it's an international peacekeeper or UN peacekeeper or UN civilian, violates human rights or commits criminal conduct.  And he's extremely focused on ensuring that there's accountability and that there is no impunity.

  Extremely focused. That's why he and his Under Secretary General for "Public Information" Christina Gallach threw out the critical Press which is asking about these issues, and Gallach's "2016 Communications Guidelines" barely mention sexual abuse, and are silent on the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case which broke in 2015 and in which Gallach is implicated, see UN OIOS audit at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20(b).
April 25, 2016

After UN Evicts ICP, Ban's Spox Says "You've Been Afforded A Lot of Courtesies"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 21 -- Contrary to what the UN says about freedom of the press, and despite a petition signed by 1400 people and opposition from the Government Accountability Project and several Permanent Representatives at the UN and members of Congress in DC, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on April 16 threw five boxes of Inner City Press' journalistic files out onto First Avenue. Photo herevideo here and here (Periscope).

  This followed eight of Ban's guards, at the direction of his "Public Information" chief Cristina Gallach, physically throwing Inner City Press onto First Avenue, and its laptop on the sidewalk, on February 19. Audio here.

On April 21, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I’m going to again try to do this politely, but I want to ask this question.  In the audit, of the OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight Services) audit, one of the longest sections in terms of Ng Lap Seng affiliates concern South-South News.  They described five separate engagements with the UN, and each party is saying we didn’t really know or we… we’re… you know, and the recommendation that you’re aware of to… to take a closer look at this relationship.  So I wanted to know, yesterday, or… or some… earlier this week, South-South News put out a press release, sent to many people, and they said, “It is disgraceful that a few independent journalists are exhibiting a lack of professionalism and irresponsibility,” essentially by questioning this.  So my question to you is… you may or may not have seen this.  Reuters wrote a story about it.

Spokesman:  Yeah.

Inner City Press:  Okay.  You’ve seen it.  Here’s my question.  Given all this, given that the indictment came out in October, six months ago, I went upstairs yesterday, and I see that South-South News still has a UN office.  And apparently, you said it’s under review.  There seems to be some due process rights.  What I want to ask you directly is:  How can there be a due process right with an institution that’s charged with bribery when a smaller institution, Inner City Press, was physically thrown out of its office with no due process?  And my question to you is, given that, yesterday, they tore a sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access (FUNCA) off the door without the consent of the office’s still occupant, who’s a member of FUNCA, what is the intention?  And what would you say to those who say, basically, if you have money, you get due process at the UN, up to six months, and if you don’t, you get two hours?  What would you say?

Spokesman:  I would say that you’re wrong, and I think you’ve been afforded quite a lot of courtesies.  Thank you.

Inner City Press:  Really?  Oh, really?  Files on the street?

 On April 20, when Inner City Press arrived at the UN's Visitors' Entrance well in time to cover 10 am meetings, a UN Security guard blocked its way in to the metal detectors.

  "I know who you are," the guard said, telling Inner City Press to go to the back of a long line of visitors.

   Since on all previously days non-resident correspondents, like the "affiliates" who staff the UN's food venues and even its UNTV, are sent into the glass building with the metal detectors, this new "rule" was noteworthy.

 So on April 20, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here

April 18, 2016

Ban Ki-moon Has ICP's Files Thrown Onto 1st Av, Bribery Audit Names His Gallach

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 16 -- Contrary to what the UN says about freedom of the press, and despite a petition signed by 1300 people and opposition from the Government Accountability Project and several Permanent Representatives at the UN and members of Congress in DC, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on April 16 threw five boxes of Inner City Press' journalistic files out onto First Avenue. Photo herevideo here.

  This followed eight of Ban's guards, at the direction of his "Public Information" chief Cristina Gallach, physically throwing Inner City Press onto First Avenue, and its laptop on the sidewalk, on February 19. Audio here.

  In the case of Gallach and ultimately Ban Ki-moon, this is retaliation for Inner City Press' critical coverage of the UN including each's involvement in the bribery scandal which so far was resulted in four guilty pleas.

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

  The audit, completed early this year but first put online by Inner City Press, directly criticizes Cristina Gallach, the Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, for example in Paragraphs 20(b) and 37-40. She should have recused herself.

  Instead Gallach has ordered the search and eviction of Inner City Press' files, on April 16. She has misrepresented it to UN Ambassadors of major countries including South Africa and to Nobel Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta.

She and / or Ban Ki-moon above her are so intent on permanently restriction Inner City Press' ability to cover corruption at the UN that they had there functionary head of MALU write to Inner City Press at 1:30 AM on the morning of the eviction, limiting the Press' ability to document the seizure of its files:

From: Tal Mekel at UN.org
Date: Sat, Apr 16, 2016 at 1:30 AM
Subject: Saturday access
To: matthew.lee@innercitypress.com

Dear Matthew,

Access on Saturday is 'exceptional' in nature (as Green Ps do not have access to UNHQ on weekends save for an official event being convened e/g. emergency SC meeting) and is solely for the purpose of over sighting the removal of your belongings.

You may bring with you one (1) individual, again on a  exceptional basis.

Best, Tal

------------------------------------------------
Tal Mekel
Acting Chief
Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit
United Nations - S-250
New York, NY 10017


   Earlier on April 15, Mekel had told Inner City Press that a two-person film crew was approved. This was revoked at 1:30 am, precluding the crew. And yet...


 This inordinate focus on ousting Inner City Press, while UN Correspondents Association board members have private offices and many write no articles, is all the more contrary to freedom of the press as Inner City Press on April 15 exclusively published documents of UN and Morocco fraud in Western Sahara, credited by 360, here.

Gallach, the highest UN official of Spain, has by her no due process orders BANned Inner City Press from covering even UNSC meetings on Western Sahara. This is retaliation and censorship.

On the afternoon of April 15 Inner City Press was told that it will be UN staff going through the files but that then they will be given to, and impounded for some time by, a third party or parties whom the UN won't even name to Inner City Press.

As one wag put it, maybe they'll just keep passing them along.

  Gallach's Team heard on April 15 from Capitol Hill to maintain the status quo. Did they even tell Ban Ki-moon, his chief of staff or deputy? Is this what allows Ban Ki-moon to (try to) say, "That is not my decision"? We'll have more on this.
April 11, 2016

ICP Asks UN of Audit Criticism of DPI's Gallach, Lax on Slavery, Impunity?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 8 -- As the UN bribery scandal gathered force Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for an audit by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services.

While Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric has said it will not be made public until April 22, on April 6 as a full text exclusive Inner City Press published the audit while noting affiliates the UN audit omitted, and portions of the audit that some involved seem to be trying to cover up.

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

  Inner City Press asked the UN about DPI's engagement with the Global Sustainability Foundation around the Ark of Return in October 2015. To be diplomatic, this should have led to / required a recusal. But again to be diplomatic, on April 8 this is what Inner City Press asked Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

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

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

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

Spokesman:  I mean, I think…

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

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

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

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

 There is a need for follow up.
April 4, 2016

UN's Gallach Says ICP Covers Wrong Things After Orders Eviction by April 6

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 30 -- On February 19 without once speaking to Inner City Press, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Under Secretary General for Public Information, Spain's Cristina Gallach, ordered the Press to leave the UN, which it has covered for ten years, in two hours. February 19 letter here.

On March 30, despite having been petitioned to stop her censorship and hindering of the Press' reporting by, among others, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jose Ramos Horta, Tamils of Sri Lanka and elsewhere including a Northern Provincial Councilor, over one thousand petition signers and commenters, Ambassadors and UN officials and, it seems, Jeffrey Sachs, Gallach nevertheless had delivered to Inner City Press a final eviction letter, below.

 Then after having the eviction order delivered to Inner City Press by the acting head of her Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit -- which rebuffed a request to come into the UN from the outside and actually film what Gallach is misrepresenting, from the ludicrous claim Inner City Press “hid” in a glassed-in, entirely visible interpreters' booth to the non-functioning of its cut non-Resident Correspondent pass at the turnstile to the second floor of the UN Conference Building -- Gallach on the afternoon of March 30 approach Inner City Press as it openly Periscope filmed at the Security Council stakeout.

  That Inner City Press was openly filming is clear from the video itself: a UN Security guard tells it it cannot step a single foot beyond the Security Council stakeout without a MALU escort or minder (censorship), then critiques its Periscope voice-over about censorship, saying You know you can't do that.

  But Inner City Press, while to accommodate the censorship guard suspending its voice-over, continued openly filming with its phone held high, as a UN tour guide told a group including Cristina Gallach and her assistant Darrin Farrant that the replica of Picasso's Guernica was lent to the UN by the Rockefellers. As the group, at another of Gallach's deputy's suggestions, went in to tour the Security Council chamber itself, Gallach came over to where Inner City Press stood openly filming.

   Viewers can reach their own conclusion about what Gallach said; in fairness to her we have uploaded the entire file, here, despite some sound quality issues (to put it mildly).

  To Inner City Press it is outrageous that the UN's Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, while insisting it is fair to strip Inner City Press of its long time office and ability to cover events on the UN's second floor, including the Office of the President of the General Assembly on which even Ban and his lawyer issued a report on March 29, excuses and does nothing about the head of the UN Correspondents Association having come to the stakeout on March 24 and four times loudly called Inner City Press an “a*hole.”

   Gallach's excuse for UNCA's Giampaolo Pioli, whose bidding (along with the bidding of other very senior personalities at and in the UN) she is doing, is that Inner City Press is said to photograph or cover the wrong things while at the stakeout, things that Gallach thinks are not news worthy.

  Is UNCA giving indicted Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Ban Ki-moon not newsworthy? Is a member of the UN Secretariat giving advance information to privileged corporate media not newsworthy? Who is Cristina Gallach to decide what the Press can or cannot photograph or cover when it is at the UN Security Council stakeout?

  Does Cristina Gallach, with the power to evict the Press, even watch the UN's daily noon briefing? Does she know that those she is working for don't even go, don't ask any questions, in some cases don't write any articles and do unrelated commercial business in the office space she leaves them with, while evicting Inner City Press for retaliation?

   Inner City Press has tried to discuss all this with Cristina Gallach; her retaliatory mantra, with no respect from freedom of the press, remains the same. There is a week: watch this site.



Here is the letter that Gallach had delivered to Inner City Press at 3 pm on March 30, before she approached Inner City Press Periscoping later than afternoon:

“Dear Mr. Lee, I write further to my letter of 19 February 2016. As I made clear in that letter, your accreditation privileges to access the premises of the United Nations to conduct your journalistic activities have been changed to that of non-Resident Correspondent. In this regard, I note that you have applied for and received your non-Resident Correspondent accreditation on 25 February 2016. Such accreditation allows you access to the premises of the United Nations in that capacity in order to carry out your full journalistic activities in the same manner as any other journalist with such accreditation privileges.

“At the same time, I also note that as of today, and after several reminders, you have not yet emptied the office of your belongings, which remain untouched, nor have you returned the key to that office.

“In light of the above, I request that you remove your belongings from the office and return its key to the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit by no later than 5:00 p.m. on 6 April 2016. If you do not collect your belongings from the office by that deadline, I would request your presence for the packaging and forwarding of your belongings to the address listed in your accreditation application. Yours sincerely, Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information”

  To many who petitioned her, from Washington to Jaffna in Sri Lanka, Gallach had repeatedly claimed that despite seizing Inner City Press' long time shared office and investigative files, Inner City Press would have the same access AS IT HAD BEFORE, or the same access as OTHER REPORTERS AT THE UN.

  This has proved to be false. Since the non-Resident Correspondent pass does not open the turnstile on the second floor of the UN's Conference Building, Inner City Press has been Banned from covering meetings in the ECOSOC and Trusteeship Council chambers, on such topics as UN Security Council reform, counter-terrorism and Sri Lanka, the selection of the next Secretary General, and more.

   Even Security Council meetings, such as the March 21 session on Western Sahara, Inner City Press was Banned from by Gallach's order. Now, after make claims, she says Inner City Press will have not the same access that it had, or even access to all Security Council meetings -- rather, the same access as other with the restricted non-Resident Correspondent pass: a tautology.  We'll have more on this.
March 28, 2016

On W. Sahara, Spain's Gallach Bans ICP From UNSC Stakeout March 21, Minders March 24

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 -- When to respond to Morocco's ouster of the MINURSO mission from Western Sahara the UN Security Council met at 8:30 am on March 21, Inner City Press arrived to cover the meeting, as it has Council meetings on the topic each April and October.

 But this time, it was unable to access the Security Council stakeout in order to speak with diplomats for its reporting. Video here. Any reporter with a Resident Correspondent pass, as Inner City Press had for eight years, could go to the stakeout. But not Inner City Press, not anymore.

   The reason Inner City Press was Banned from stakeout out the Western Sahara meeting was UN Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach's February 19 letter telling it, on two hours notice, to leave the UN after ten years of coverage. Letter here. Gallach never once spoke to Inner City Press before issuing the order.

   The results of Gallach's order, which remains in place as of March 26, is systemic exclusion from covering and staking out events ranging from Sri Lanka counter-terrorism to the process for selecting Ban Ki-moon's successor, from UN Security Council reform to an event about slavery, the UN's memorial to which has funded since indicted and pleaded guilty to bribery at the UN.

   After the March 24 UN Security Council consultations on Western Sahara, just after the reading out o the Council's “Press Elements,” things hit a new low. UN Department of Public Information staff, working for Gallach, told Inner City Press it had to leave the Security Council stakeout even as other pro-Morocco journalists were conducting interviews with diplomats.

   After Inner City Press stated this was censorship attributable to Gallach, her staff's “solution” was even more Kafka-esque: Inner City Press would require an escort, or minder, as it conducted interviews. Obviously, diplomats desiring to speak on background about Ban's performance on Western Sahara would not do so in the presence of a minder working for Ban's Secretariat.

   What has led to this censorship or Banning of the Press at the UN, on Western Sahara, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Burundi and other topics?

  While Gallach's February 19 letter is vague, in the “incident” she alludes to Inner City Press sought to report on an event, nowhere listed as closed, held in the UN Press Briefing Room on January 29.

It was a meeting of the UN Correspondents Association, and Inner City Press wanted to cover it to see if the group's having under Giampaolo Pioli taken money from thhe South South News of now indicted Ng Lap Seng's and Vivian Wang's (and Frank Lorenzo, who has pleaded guilty) would be discussed. UNCA's Pioli demanded that UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric ask Inner City Press to leave.

 When despite no showing that it was a “Closed Meeting” a single UN Security officer told Inner City Press that Dujarric wanted Inner City Press to leave, it did.

   But the disagreement about the right to exclude the press from the UN Press Briefing Room was used by Gallach -- and it seems UNCA “leaders” including Giampaolo Pioli and at least two news services which now operate anonymous troll social media accounts -- to three weeks later, on two hours notice and with no due process, order Inner City Press out.

March 21, 2016

ICP Asked About Lorenzo's Bribery, US Cites UN Audit, Not South South News

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up on Exclusives

UNITED NATIONS, March 16 -- For more than six months Inner City Press has asked the UN about its dealings with Frank Lorenzo, former Deputy Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic and head of South South News, who has now formally pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery at the UN.

 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who had accepted a prize from Lorenzo, has yet to comment; Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric on February 9 told Inner City Press, “I'm done answering questions.” Vine here.

Inner City Press on March 15 asked US State Department spokesperson John Kirby, transcript here, Vine here, full video here, from Minute 21:02:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you, there was – today – it was announced today that the deputy ambassador of the Dominican Republic, Frank Lorenzo, is set to plead guilty to bribery charges at the UN. So I wanted to ask, what’s the State Department’s view of that case? Do you view it as just a slip-up in the president of the General Assembly’s office, or is it a reflection of a wider corruption or sale of access at the UN and what the Government Accountability Project also calls retaliation against the press reporting on the case? Do you – what do you make of this case that began in October and is ongoing, the wheels are turning?

MR KIRBY: I’m going to have to take that question. I do not believe I have anything for you on that. So you’re going to have to let me get back to you.

  On the afternoon of March 16, when Inner City Press asked Kirby's deputy Mark Toner the above questions, along with questions on Yemen, Sudan and genocide, a State Department official on background answered Inner City Press:

"Rooting out fraud and corruption, and advancing accountability is a priority for the United States, and has been for many years. In addition to ongoing legal action in the Southern District of New York, we support the Secretary General’s request for an Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) audit of the interaction between the UN and the Global Sustainability Foundation and the Sun Kian Ip Group, and the use of any funds received from these entities. As this matter is under ongoing investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office, as well as by the UN and OIOS, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

  We'll have more on this - for example on what the indictment calls "NGO-1," which is South South News, and about the US and the GAP letter. Watch this site.

  On February 19 Inner City Press was ordered out of the UN, which it has covered for ten years as a Resident Correspondent with a shared office full of files, by a letter signed that day with two hours notice by Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach - who attended the September 2015 South South Awards with Lorenzo, photo here.

  On Gallach's order, and with the participation of Ban's spokesman Dujarric, Inner City Press was thrown out onto First Avenue along with its laptop, but without its passport still in its shared office, by eight UN Security guards. Audio here. On February 22, UN Security told Inner City Press it was Banned from all UN premises.

  After stories in BuzzFeed and Business Insider, Inner City Press re-entered the UN on a much reduced “non-resident correspondent” pass, Banned from covering such events as UN Security Council reform, Sri Lanka and terrorism, and the Office of the President of the General Assembly. (Inner City Press has continued, with sources, to report, for example here.)

  The harassment continued: hours after Inner City Press raised its case orally to Ban Ki-moon and his deputy, UN Security against physically ordered Inner City Press to leave the UN, at 8 pm.  Video here.

Dujarric said it is not his job to find Inner City Press a place to work. Q&A here. More and seemingly final threats were made on March 14 -- just before it emerged that Lorenzo is pleading guilty to bribery charges. Now what?
March 14, 2016

UN's Jan 29 "Incident" Featured UNCA Hiding Ng Lap Seng Info, UN Staff at Pioli's Open Bar

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 12 -- The UN's ouster of Inner City Press on February 19, on a mere two hours notice, was said by UN official Cristina Gallach's letter to be based on “the incident” of January 29. In the three weeks of struggle -- and UN harassment -- since, more has become clear about that incident.

   The UN Press Briefing Room, which is supposed to be for all journalists, was “lent” to the UN Correspondents Association to hold their annual meeting. Inner City Press quit UNCA in 2012, finding it to be corrupt. 

   UNCA's then and now president Giampaolo Pioli unilaterally granted a UN screening for the Sri Lankan government's war crimes denial film “Lies Agreed To” after having taken rent money from Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka's ambassador. When Inner City Press reported that, Pioli demanded removal of the article from the Internet or he would “get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN” (which later took place.)

  So on January 27, Inner City Press published a story about the coming  misuse of the UN Press Briefing Room, and on January 29 went to cover the meeting as a news event. To not participate in the meeting - and be heckled by Pioli's UNCA thugs, as later nevertheless happened - Inner City Press covered it from the glassed in interpreters booth, fully visible, waving at attendees, live-tweeting and streaming Periscope.

  Pioli at the podium in the front of the room grew angry and ordered Inner City Press to leave. Inner City Press said no, the room is for all journalists (It took the same position when UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric tried to “lend” the UN Press Briefing Room to France's and his President, Francois Hollande; Inner City Press won that standoff, the private briefing was opened to all.)

  This time at Pioli's request Dujarric came in and asked Inner City Press to leave so he could go see his “f*cking kids.” Inner City Press said it was a point of principle, of equal treatment of all journalists in the UN Press Briefing Room, but that it would leave if UN Security requested it.

  Finally a single guard came and told Inner City Press that the Spokesman wanted it to leave. Inner City Press immediately left anduploaded a story and the video from the “incident.” 

  In the weeks that followed, Inner City Press repeated asked Dujarric and his Deputy Farhan Haq why they had “lent” the UN Press Briefing Room to UNCA, to whom else they had lent it -- no list was provided -- and why, for example, indicted Frank Lorenzo had appeared in the UN Press Briefing Room but not in that day's UN Media Alert. Was it lent to him, too? By whom?

  Seemingly based on this questioning, linking the privatization of the UN Press Briefing Room to the widening corruption scandal, UN official Cristina Gallach issued a letter throwing Inner City Press out of its long time office and deactivating its Resident Correspondent's accreditation.

This was enforced by eight UN Security guards who threw Inner City Press in the street and its laptop on the ground as two UNCA insiders -- Margaret Besheer of Voice of America, a correspondent to Dujarric, and Sherwin Brice of SABC -- stood and filmed and laughed.

   Gallach, as Inner City Press has reported before January 29, has attended the South South Awards of indictee Ng Lap Seng, with indictee Frank Lorenzo. Not only should she have provided due process but didn't - she should have recused herself from any decision-making. 

   UNCA under Pioli, as Inner City Press also reported, took tens of thousands of dollars from Ng Lap Seng's South South News, then gave Ng a photo op with Ban Ki-moon; after this, UNCA under Pioli openly sold seats with Ban at Cipriani Wall Street for $12,000.

  But there's more. Why was the UNCA meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room in the first place, when the UN gives UNCA a large clubhouse on the UN's third floor?

  Well, on the evening of January 29 UNCA / Pioli was to hold a party in the UNCA clubhouse, with waiters (who and how paid was unclear.) At the event, the advertised open bar was open to members of Dujarric's Office of the Spokesperson and Gallach's DPI. Is that ethical?

   In the UNCA meeting after Pioli got Dujarric to get UN Security to tell Inner City Press to leave, an UNCA member asked to at least get a hard-copy of the UNCA budget information. Pioli told that member to just vote against the budget, then.  

Where did the Ng Lap Seng money go? The money for the seats sold next to Ban Ki-moon? Who paid for the January 29 party? Why is the UN taking and giving these freebies? This is a corrupt UN -- and for seeking to cover it, Inner City Press has been thrown out, and is still being harassed (thrown out again on March 10). It is UNacceptable. Watch this site.

After Inner City Press was summarily ejected from the UN, which it has covered for 10 years, on February 19 (audio here), the ostensibly deciding official Cristina Gallach told Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta, who contacted her to oppose her arbitrary decision, that Inner City Press would still be able to cover the UN.

  Now Gallach, even having been informed that Inner City Press can no longer for example go to the second floor of the UN Conference Building and speak with diplomats entering and exiting meetings like March 9 on UN Security Council reform, and March 10 on Counter-Terrorism including in Sri Lanka, repeats the same position to others - as does Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Office of the Spokesperson, under Stepane Dujarric, see below.

But Inner City Press had been told that while the pass would not allow it to enter the UN after 7 pm, if it was already inside working, it could finish.

  On March 10 at 8 pm, as Inner City Press sat in the UN Lobby cafe area editing a video of the day's noon briefing, see below, UN Security officers approached and told it to leave. Immediately. Video here.

  Inner City Press asked if this rule applied to all non-resident correspondents, many of whom stayed much later than 8 pm, or only to it.

  "I"m just doing what I'm told," UN DSS Officer Clyde said, telling Inner City Press to take it up with his supervisor Chief (Michael or Mick) Brown.

 This is harassment; it flows from the February 19 no due process order of Under Secretary General of DPI Cristina Gallach but has been enabled by inaction by the highest UN officials and some diplomats.

On March 11, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about having been ousted from the UN again, video here, UN transcript here:
March 7, 2016

Exclusive: UN Yemen Envoy Told Feltman Houthis Ready to Meet in Jordan, Saudi Low-ball

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 4 -- The UN Secretariat's bungling of Yemen mediation has become ever more clear, according to multiple sources and documents exclusively seen by Inner City Press, see below.

  Now Inner City Press has another exclusive: UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's email to UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, which contradicts what enovy Ould Cheikh Ahmed most recently told the Security Council. The email exclusively published by Inner City Press shows flexibility on the Houthi said, with the prospects of meeting in Jordan or Morocco, while the Saudis insist on sending low level representation. Here is the email:

"Dear Jeff, I just completed a 2-day visit in Riyadh and wanted to give you a quick update on how things have developed since my discussions with H/Mohamed AbdelSalam last week in Muscat.

I had a private discussion with both State Minister Mussaeed Al Ayban and Abu Ali where I briefed them on the readiness of th Houthis to resume discrete face-to-face meetings with KSA representatives. While they welcomed the progress made and expressed their commitment to go ahead with this track, they also emphasized that:

i) in light of the progress the Coalition has been making on the ground and their advance toward Sanaa, the Houthis should seize this opportunity and discuss in good faith as they are in a weaker position on the ground and their options are narrowing;

ii) KSA will not consider elevating the level of their representation in the KSA-H talks, as Mohamed AbdelSalam had requested. KSA considers that the 2 representatives they are sending are at the level of Mohammed AbdelSalam and the Houthis should not expect a higher representation at this point;

iii) KSA accepted the proposal of Mohamed AbdelSalam to meet in a third country (Jordan). Mohamed Abe Assalem has suggested to me either Morocco or Jordan as the venue.

 I immediately called Mohemad AbdelSalam from Riyadh to share the outcomes of the meeting. He was going to talk to his leadership and revert to me with a confirmation. If the Houthis accept, the Houthi - KSA meeting could go ahead as early as next week, in Jordan. We of course would not participate nor be present. I have however already started coordination with the Jordan Ambassador to Yemen, as needed.

Although we still do not have an agreement for a new cessation of hostilities, we have continued to press for commitment to the De-Escalation and Coordination Committee (DCC), and a range of economic initiatives (especially in relation to the Central Bank's independence and the reactivation of the Social Welfare Fund).

In my meeting with the GoY delegation, I continued to impress upon them the importance of participation of the GoY in the DCC, and to training which we are planning to organize in Amman during the coming weeks. The UK Ambassador informed me that Foreign Minister and Head of GoY delegation AbdelMalik El Mikhalfi today had responded positively to his suggestion.

There are been positive developments on economic initiatives which I have supported as well. Foreign Minister Mikhalfi participated in the Central Bank board meeting last week in Amman together with the Minister for Finance and the CB Governor. DPM/MoFA Mikhalfi acknowledged that significance of the Governor's attendance from Sanaa and was very grateful for my personal efforts to secure his participation with the Houthis, which was seen by the GoY as an important confidence building measure. Mikhalfi agreed on the necessity of developing further economic initiatives including the support for the SWF and SFD. My office is working with the UNCT, World Bank and IMF in order to ensure a sufficient level of technical support for these proposals.

 I am now in Nouakchott for 4 days where I need to renew my G4 visa and will proceed to New York on 16 February ahead of the SC briefing. I intend to remain in NYC until 22 February in order to meet with key Member States and HQ officials. I plan to also travel to Washington DC 19 February and hold meetings there. I look forward to seeing you in New York in a few days.
Best regards, Ismail."

  The above email was sent on February 11 and contradicts what Ould Cheikh Ahmed told the Security Council; meanwhile Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the UN told the press on March 4 that envoy IOCA does NOT want a humanitarian access resolution.

 In the UN Security Council on the Yemen sanctions resolution adopted on February 24, language was added to try to discourage the Panel of Experts from looking into the act of the Saudi-led Coalition. Concessions were made, of a kind not made for or about other countries under sanctions.

  (Inner City Press had to follow the process from outside the UN, literally, the park on 43rd Street across First Avenue, because only days after Inner City Press asked why the UN was so quiet about false claims of Iranian military equipment in a UN WFP aid ship, Inner City Press was summarily thrown out of the UN for seeking three weeks earlier to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room, and Banned, without due process. Petition here.)February 29, 2016

UN's Ouster of ICP Opposed from Yemen, Burundi, NY, Nigeria, Dominica, Geneva

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 25 -- After Inner City Press was summarily ejected from the UN, which it has covered for ten years, on February 19, the ostensibly deciding official Cristina Gallach told no less than Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta that Inner City Press would still be able to cover the UN.

What she didn't say was that Inner City Press' ability to cover the unfolding UN corruption scandal in which she has played a role would be curtailed under the proposed arrangement - by design. Inner City Press is opposing this.

  And so now are a range of people from around the world, who have signed a petition to immediately restore Inner City Press to the UN Resident Correspondent accreditation it had for nine years until, without any due process, the UN pass was physically torn from its chest as UN Security throw its laptop onto the sidewalk in front of the UN (also owned by the UN and immunity from US law including the First Amendment).

Here are just some of the comments of those signing the petition directed to Ban Ki-moon:

UN cover-up artists are taking advantage of the dying months of Ban Ki-moon's tenure to remove a thorn in their side, because they are worried the new SG won't want to start out with a fight. -James Bone, Shelter Island Heights, NY

ICP has been the only voice for the oppressed in #Burundi, #Haiti & #Yemen at #UN. -Eloge Tinya, Lagos, Nigeria

Innercitypress is the voice of many oppressed Burundians and many Africans under dictatorship. I have decided to stand with the oppressed and not the oppressor, UN needs to practice what it preaches by setting free innercitypress to do his work! -Lievin Manisha, Pineville, LA

ICP asked questions that will bring clarity on the agreement the Prime Minister of Dominica signed in Macau on August 25, 2015 together with Ng Lap Seng and a UN official. -Hon. Hector John, Salisbury, Dominica

I am signing for UN to restore Matthew Lee Inner City Press right to access to the UN as a Resident Correspondent to question authorities because it is the fundamental of free speech as the UN preaches to other countries it must first practice itself to set example. -Smret Kibrom, San Gallo, Switzerland

Freedom of press. -Prem Kumar, India

innercitypress defends the human rights of Burundians and help to avoid genocide, please free innercitypress! - MICHAEL Tim, London, United Kingdom

I'm signing because the barring of access to Mr. Lee appears to be at worst motivated by a reluctance to engage with and continue to receive the probing questions he asks, and at best the result of a petty personal vendetta based on unprofessional antipathy towards Mr. Lee by the 'respectable' wing of the United Nations press corps. -Marlon Ettinger, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

I am signing this petition for Matthew Russell Lee and Inner City Press be restored to the shared UN office and Resident Correspondent accreditation they have had for eight years prior to this pretextual incident. It also requests, as does the Free UN Coalition for Access that Matthew co-founded, that an investigation be launched into how all of this occurred. Moreover to call for aggressive investigative journalism at the UN and to tell the leaders of the UN that the UN, too, must live up to the principles of due process and freedom of the press. -Martha Fassil, New York, NY

Comment l'onu peut agir de sorte alors qu'ils sont comme meilleur modèle de la démocratie, je garde espoir qu'on aura un jour un vrai dirigeants de l'onu pour tous. -Steve Ndacasaba, Montréal, Canada

I'm signing cause, want a real journalist who tells it like it is. No agenda but the truth. I am supporting him for standing up for UN bully. -Paulos Welday, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Han er en journalist som forteller sannheten til verden.
Mussie Tesfay, Oslo, Norway

UN should walk the talk. Practice what you preach - rule of law, democracy, freedom of expression, of press. Reinstate ICP Mathew Russell Lee to full resident reporter. -Seble Ephrem, London, United Kingdom

we need a voice for africa
redae medhane, Kitchener, Canada

Incredible. This banning is the exact opposite of the transparency and accountability that the UN should be defending for all institutions. This must be reversed.
Denis Rancourt, Ottawa, Canada

ICP is the most reliable source of information at the UN. The other corporate media are controlled by the special interest groups. Thus their journalistic integrity is always suspect. ICP is voice of the voiceless - of course unlike the UN and its sponsors and financiers. -tsehaie mahary, edmonton, Canada

I express my solidarity with Mathew, God bless you friend
Mohamed MAYARA, El Aaiun, Western Sahara

Matthew Lee has been a lone voice asking the difficult questions in the UN press gallery. -Martin Field, Geneva, Switzerland

I have seen Matthew only defending the truth. He is a journalist with a genuine journalist ethics. He is also the one of the most intelligent and courageous journalist. He is a model how other journalist should be. He should be given a noble prize for what he does not get banned from the UN. -Yacob Woldehiwot, London, United Kingdom

The UN cannot be dismissive of new media as people get their news from new media.The UN cannot pick and choose media persons according to their whims and fancies. -soraya patel, India

Shame on UN. -ibrahim alhaifi, Sanaa, Yemen

I believe this is censorship of the press. Shameful. -Douglas Smith, New York, NY

I believe this is censorship of the press. Shameful. -Douglas Smith, New York, NY
I'm signing because I believe in ICP to bring balance to the reporting of UN activities around the globe. I also believe in the ability of Lee to investigate, without fear or favour, to keep the UN reputation intact. -Saare Tsehaye, London, United Kingdom

Because this is censorship on free press. Inner City stands for Truth, Justice & Peace !!! -Aman Kubrom, Frankfurt, Germany

How can the UN be so ridiculous?
Feridun Akpinar, Turku, Finland

For Truth & Transparency, there must always be those who Question more. -Auet Melache, Bolton, United Kingdom

I am signing because UN is being unfair and need to take some responsibility. -Lynda Charles, Boynton Beach, FL

He's credible and follows the ethics of journalism to the fullest. -Amanuel Tseggai, Stone Mountain, GA

We need the alternative,independent and investigative media to be present everywhere. -Marja Konttila, Solna, Sweden

I demand the U.N. unconditionaly and ASAP to restore access to Inner City Press`Matthew Russell Lee to the U.N. as a Resident Correspondent. -johannes abraham, Germany

I believe in press giving independant views on ignored issues
Cyrilla Bwakira, Johannesburg, South Africa

Ban is a tool. -Michael Klett, San Francisco, CA

InnerCity Press has been very professional and a life saver. His reports on different issues around the world helped uncover certain hidden truths. If Ban was in #Burundi 2 days ago, I can say it is mainly because of his persistence of bringing Burundi to light from the repression of de facto president
Manirambona Juma, Kirundo, Burundi

Matt spells out the truth and exposes the games protecting the outdated system for what it currently is.Matt actually supports the principle of the UN, those within it, support themselves. -Andy Wren, Littlestone, United Kingdom

Weil ich sihe das innercity einsige unabhengige median vetretete vor
Stimmenloss. -Iassu nugusse, Germany

Matthew Russell Lee, founder of the Inner City Press, is a veteran investigative journalist I have relied upon on UN news for the past six years. He is truthful, and pursues truth in reporting tenaciously and with integrity. We need more journalists like him at the UN to keep us informed. He and his Inner City Press must be reinstated as a fully accredited resident journalist to the UN. -Elias Amare, San Rafael, CA

We need unbiased and impartial reporting from the UN. -David Macilwain, Australia

Does the UN have something to hide? The UN is also obligated by the same principles and norms it preaches. I demand the UN to reinstate Matthew Russell Lee to his desk so he can do what he does best- pure journalism. He is the only honest journalist at the UN compound and being the voice of the voiceless. -Daniel Berhe, Seattle, WA

I am signed because ICP thrown out on the street by the decorator of UN media Personnel with out his belongings Shame UN. -Yakob Tesfaye, Edmonton, Canada

I am signing this because I want to learn about the corrupt UN security council.
TEKLU BAHTA, NORTH CHICAGO,

I respectively ask UNSG and Mr Ban ki-moon to reture Matt to his post us a dedicated reporter in the UN. I have a huge respect for the guy. It would be a travesty of justice if a reporter like matt is out the office of the biggest office in the world when we need a reporter of such kind. -Kibrom tekeste, berkeley, CA

I'am signing because I believe in freedom of speach and Free Press Reporters/Journalists. -Ndayizeye APOLLINAIRE, Gatineau (Hull), Canada

The UN repeatedly acts like human rights protections apply to everyone but themselves. -Betsey Chace, Cambridge, MA

Matthew is the only bona fide journalist reporting on UN. He alone is rectifying the defects created by system of diplomatic immunity. Why makes his job harder? Do you have something to hide from him? He makes UN a more acceptable organization and indeed, by genuinely reporting he makes this world a better place. -T Chan, London, United Kingdom

I am signing for UN to restore Matthew Lee Inner City Press right to access to the UN as a Resident Correspondent to question authorities because it is the fundamental of free speech as the UN preaches to other countries it must first practice itself to set example.
Sara Haile, Alexandria, VA

Matthew Lee is, far and away, the hardest-working and most dogged of any journalist at the United Nations. His arbitrary expulsion is both outrageous and a reflection of the fact that things are not as they should be at the United Nations, and certainly not what YOU would expect. - alberto martin, New York, NY

He is the best one, for the world in the UN which tells us the truth. So if he is out of his work then the UN only remains with out the truth.
ghebreyohanis michiel, bachenbülach, Switzerland

Burundi medias burned by violent/genocidaire regime;our genuine source of information from UN was ICP:fair,not sided.Pls,Reestablish ICP in its rights!
Ange Nganji, Bujumbura, Burundi

I'm signing because I believe in the freedom of the press. I often reads Matthew Lee's work which reports on difficult topics and events that need covering and exposure. He should be reinstated at your earliest convenience.
Rebecca Myles, New York, NY

I'm signing because I'm an advocate for real, independent journalism and condemn the UN's decision to remove Inner City Press's access based on a nonsensical pretext! -Hermon Gebrai, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom

I appreciate Inner City Press' persistent and prepared journalism at the United Nations. -Brian Concannon Jr., Marshfield, MA

Freedom of the press. -Luiz Rampelotto, New York, NY
18 hours ago

The UN needs to be held to standards of openess, transparency and freedom of the press. -Samuel Horton, Silsden, United Kingdom

Lee should not have been expelled, it's a disgrace to the UN. -Richard Johnson, Potomac, MD

It's unfair to throw someone out like that with out hearing from his side of history. -Hermon Tsegay, Slough, United Kingdom

Such a crck down on media in an organization promoting freedom of speech and information is really awkward and clearly disgraceful and unacceptable. -Florent Nduwayo, Kibungo, Rwanda

This is another in a long line of incidents conclusively evidencing the UN's complete and utter disrespect for the laws of its HOST country, the US, in particular the 1st amendment!! UN IMMUNITY = IMPUNITY--END IT NOW!! Journalists are the ultimate whistleblowers, and I am well aware of how UN whistleblowers like Mr Lee are persecuted and suffer grievous harm at the hands of rogue UN officials. The treatment of Mr. Lee is an outrage.

How ironic this has happened just as the US House Committe on Foreign Relations is today, on 24 Feb, holding a hearing about the gross mistreatment of whistleblowers at the UN and WIPO. Congress must act now to cut off 15% of US appropriations to the UN this year on account of its failure to protect and encourage UN whistleblowers like Mr Lee, as provided for in US law, as it already did to WIPO!! -ted beacher, Geneva, Switzerland

ICP is doing a great job. UN should support,respect and promote free speech. -Kalu Thapa, Kathmandu, Nepal

There are more...
February 22, 2016

UN Security Ejecting ICP Wouldn't Give Name, Grabbed ID Badge, Pushed Out Gate

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 21 -- The UN on February 19, after Inner City Press asked about UN inaction in South Sudan and Burundi and financial irregularities, handed Inner City Press a letter to leave the UN by 5 pm. Letter here.

  While Inner City Press was writing up a UN Security Council meeting on Syria that went into the evening, and Periscope broadcasting, UN Security guards walked up. They told Inner City Press it could not transcribe and report on answers to its (final?) questions at the Security Council stakeout.

  Inner City Press asked the Security officer making this order to provide his name, but he refused. Audio here.

  Inner City Press asked how this could be UN protocol, since police department in many jurisdiction require officers to give their names, and have names on their badges or shields.

  The officer -- who would late shove Inner City Press out into First Avenue without coat or files -- said, "You are acting in a very..."

 A very what? Uppity manner, asking for the name of a security supervisor ordering a journalist to leave, and ultimately grabbing the journalist's laptop?

  Finally the name was provided: Deputy Security Chief Michael McNulty. Previously bragging of serving Ban Ki-moon in Iraq. We'll have more on this.

For now we note this is why a reduced accreditation status that allows for UN Security actions like this while reporting from the Security Council stakeout is UNacceptable.

  Later UN Security grabbed Inner City Press' laptop, blocked its Periscope camera and turned off the livestream. Video here.

  Then eight UN Security officers led by Deputy Chief McNulty tore off Inner City Press' UN ID badge and carted off Inner City Press' laptop and camera, returning these by throwing them on the sidewalk of First Avenue. Audio here.

 They did not allow Inner City Press to get coat or sweater, or the files in its office. No provision was made for this.

  The ejection letter was signed by the Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Galach of Spain but ultimately Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in charge. Ban and his chief of staff Edmond Mulet and Deputy SG Jan Eliasson were all written to with details as this took place.

  USG Gallach's office, Darrin Farrant in charge, merely "took note" of questions about and criticism of the lack of due process. Gallach did not respond to email, even from Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta, here.

  When Inner City Press was thrown out onto First Avenue, standing waiting, laughing and filming, was Voice of America's Margaret Besheer and another board member of the UN Correspondents Association, whose president Giampaoli Pioli told Inner City Press if it didn't remove a (truthful) article about his screening of a war crimes denial film for a tenant of his, Sri Lanka's then ambassador Palitha Kohona, he would get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN.

  But who is running this asylum? Ban Ki-moon, his spokesman also involved Stephane Dujarric (who threw Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing Room on January 29, also trying to turn off ICP's Periscoping phone), and, some surmise, some who don't like Inner City Press' questions. We'll have more on this.

  The pretext was Inner City Press three weeks earlier seeking to cover a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room by an organization which has taken money from now indicted Ng Lap Seng and Frank Lorenzo's South SOuth News, then gave Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Ban.

(As Inner City Press reported, Gallach attended the South South Awards with Frank Lorenzo, photo here, just before his indictment.  She should have been recused from any decision-making on this.)

  UN Security demanded ICP's pass - and later tore it off.
February 15, 2016

As New UN Rapes In CAR Revealed in Feb 11 Emails, UN Says DRC Troops Still In Place

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Must Credit

UNITED NATIONS, February 13 -- Amid a litany of rape charges against UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, Inner City Press exclusively obtained and on February 12 published UN emails showing another round of sexual abuse of minors in Ouaka prefecture in the Central African Republic by UN Peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Click here to view.

 The emails, dated February 11, 2016, describe at least four underage victims, two of whom were impregnated by the rapist UN peacekeepers.

  Middle management at the UN, further up the email chain, notes that the majority of sexual abuse in CAR has been committed by the battalions from the DRC and the Republic of Congo. And so Inner City Press posed these questions to UN spokespeople in both New York and the CAR:

"This is a request for your comment on, and any update on, the sexual abuse and exploitation cases in the Feb 11, 2016 emails now here

Also, what will be done with the Republic of Congo and DR Congo contingents? We are interested in if the UN and DPKO can, as currently be configured, be reformed.What is the status of the sexual abuse and exploitation cases that have been listed, including in the UN Press Briefing Room?"

  The response received by Inner City Press on Saturday afternoon in New York was from Bangui-based MINUSCA spokesman Vladimir Monteiro:

"Regarding your questions on DRC and Congo, here is Minusca's position:

"On DRC contingent, a decision to repatriate them has already been taken. It will be completed without delay by the end of the month. It is just a matter of planning it properly.

"On the 120 troops from Congo, they have been cantoned in Berberati to permit investigations by national investigators before their repatriation to their country  which will occur on 20 February 2016. For further details on this matter please contact HQ."

  But of course Inner City Press has already contacted "HQ" or UN Headquarters, including for example Ismini Palla of Ladsous' DPKO, who gave Agence France Presse the response to questions Inner City Press has publicly posed to UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, to the DPKO spokesman Nick Birnback, also cc-ed.

  So where ARE the updates on the cases the UN's Diane Corner listed in the UN Briefing Room? Why was it reported in early January that the DRC contingent had "been dismissed" when, in mid February, they are still in place? What is the status of the Burundian contingent in CAR? Follow up questions have been submitted to UN officials and spokespeople in CAR and headquarters in New York.

  Well placed sources tell Inner City Press these two countries' soldiers have been in the UN MINUSCA mission nearly entirely due to Ladsous and, more outrageously, the / his French government due to its political relations with the Republic of Congo and DRC.

  Ladsous, as Inner City Press has reported, told Burundi's Vice President that he is "pragmatic" about human rights; even on camera, Ladsous linked the rapes to "R&R," click here for video.

  While Ladsous' DPKO and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Office of the Spokesperson announced that the DRC contingent would be pulled out of Bambari and CAR in late Janaury, Inner City Press is informed this never happened: they are still there.

  Ladsous' DPKO, and now the UN Spokesperson's Office, are engaged in misleading the press and public, and doling out what information they provide to only the friendliest media.

 For recent example, Inner City Press for weekly has reported on and asked about the repatriation from CAR of Burundian troops charged with abuse during the crackdown on opponents of Pierre Nkurunziza's third term. Even after Inner City Press obtained and published on February 9 proof of three repatriations, all UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press is that he would seek an update.

  Simarily, Ladsous' lead spokesman Nick Birnback told Inner City Press DPKO would have something to say about the particular Burundian officers in CAR Inner City Press asked him about.

  Then Ladsous' spokespeople including Ismini Palla gave their limited confirmations to Reuters and Agence France Presse, who published it without credit or context. (Neither media reported on Ladsous linking rape to R&R).

 In a February email by UN official Anthony Banbury, soon to leave the UN after some heartfelt tears of outrage at peacekeepers' rapes, it is said:

"We have a pack of predatory criminals and rapists, preying on young girls,
under the banner of the United Nations. How can we stand by? In my view that battalion should be ordered to cease operations today, same with the RoC battalion, and be confined to camp and guarded full time so they cannot continue to abuse children. While we would pay a short-term price in terms of operations, we would gain so much in terms of the integrity and reputation of the UN, in the CAR and internationally, and we would almost certainly prevent more rapes of minor girls. We simply cannot sustain the argument that the benefit these troops are bringing to the UN and PoC is greater than the harm they are doing."

  What will the UN do? What will France, with new foreign minister Jean Marc Ayrault, do? How long can Ladsous - and the Congolese contingents - remain in place?

Exclusive: UN Emails Show New Rapes in CAR, Ladsous' Contingents by Matthew Russell Lee


  Back on January 27 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Spokesman to confirm new allegations in the Central African Republic by Republic of Congo and DR Congo troops.
February 8, 2016

SG Ban Claims He's a Scapegoat, Press Qs on CAR Rapes, Corruption Ignored

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 5 -- In the run up to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's appearance today in London, people were asked to submit questions using the hashtag #AskBan.

  Inner City Press submitted questions about Ban's UN preaching accountability while claiming immunity for bringing cholera to Haiti, rapes in Central African Republic, back-down on protection in Burundi, silence on Oromo Protests in Ethiopia, Yemen, UN corruption.

  Clearly, not all of these issues would be addressed in Ban's appearance with UNA-UK and Jeremy Greenstock in Central Hall. But none of them?

  Instead, Ban took pre-screened softball questions -- like his spokespeople do it at UNHQ in New York -- and closed with the claim that he is just a scapegoat. (SG, get it?).

  Was Ban's UN a “scapegoat” for negligently bringing cholera to Haiti, killing 10,000 people and paying not a penny to the families of those killed, many left without their breadwinner or housing?

  Was Ban a scapegoat when he went on a “victory tour” with Mahinda Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka in 2009?

  Are UN peacekeepers under DPKO's Herve Ladsous “scapegoats” when they sexually abuse children in CAR, have it covered up and Ladsous still in his job, after Ladsous linked the rapes to “R&R”?

  Ban made claims about promoting women - when as simply one example when he sat, UN Photo-ed, wiht his "senior advisers" on North Korea on January 6, 2016, is was decidedly male, here.

   People clap because they like the UN, or the idea of the UN, or what they think the UN is. Up close, it's a different story. Below are just some recent (February 4, 3, 2, 1) examples.

The  UN won't provide a simple list of when and to whom it “lent” the UN Press Briefing Room, from the “reservation” Spokesman Dujarric gave to the entourage of French President Hollande on September 23, 2014 until his murky “lending” of the UN Press Briefing Room to UNCA on January 29, 2016 and subsequent ejection of Inner City Press.

  UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq on February 4  instead of even purporting to answer Inner City Press' questions openly guessed at the motivation of the questions. Vine here, full video here. The question concerned Ng Lap seng, indicted for bribery at the UN; Haq said if you can look into corruption at the UN Correspondents Association (a Ng fundee who was lent the room on January 29), go do so.

  But the UN has said it is auditing Ng's and Sheri Yan's dealings with and at the UN, which must include UNCA, which is given a large UN room, and the Press Briefing Room too, off the record sit-downs with Ban Ki-moon (two of whose closest associates were at the founding of Yan's Global Sustainability Foundation), and sells seats with Ban for $6,000.

  Haq refused to answer. Inner City Press aksed, When does Stephane [Dujarric, the lead spokesman who said who gets to use the Press Briefing Room is really his decision] get back? "Whenever he wants," Haq said. This is today's UN. We'll have more on this.

 On February 3, Inner City Press for the second day in a row asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq to provide a list of to whom his office, or simply lead UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, “lent” the UN Press Briefing Room. Haq on February 3 now said there is no list, but they have the information.

  So Inner City Press asked a question about the information: has the UN Press Briefing Room been “lent” to any affiliate or fundee of Ng Lap Seng or the Global Sustainability Foundation, named in the US Attorney's corruption indictment.
February 1, 2016

After Vote, ICP Asks Colombia's Holguín About Urabeños, She Calls Them a Gang

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 25 -- After the UN Security Council quickly passed a resolution on Colombia for unarmed international observers responsible for the monitoring and verification of the laying down of arms on January 25, Inner City Press asked Colombia's foreign minister María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar two questions.

   Are there any names yet for the UN envoy post, should he or she like the observers come from CELAC? And what about the Urabeños, which some call paramilitaries and some call merely a gang?

    Holguín said it will be up to Ban Ki-moon to propose names -- and derived the Urabeños as narco-traffickers, to be frontally opposed.  Video here.

January 25, 2016

In Burundi, Shingiro Spoke for US Power, Censorship Not Mentioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 23 -- After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on New Year's Eve issued a statement praising the Burundi “talks” held in Entebbe, Uganda, multiple sources told Inner City Press these not really talks but rather a photo op. The January 6 session announced for Arusha did not happen.  Inner City Press requested to cover the UNSC's trip to Burundi, but was UNtransparently rejected.

Inner City Press asked the UN about the trip on January 20, 21 and 22. The UN spokespeople refused to say, but beyond the pro-government "religious leaders" that they cited, the Council also met with at least some of the concerned members of civil society, and some journalists who inevitably raised the issue of attacks and censorship. This was not mentioned by the UN.

  The UN Country Team in Burundi is now led by Paolo Lembo, who also served in Yemen where Special Adviser Jamal Benomar did. Neither Lembo nor the shadowy "UNIC Bujumbura," however, arranged for a video or even audio steam of the Council's and Burundian government's press statements. We're told that Ambassador Albert Shingiro, who blocks the Press on Twitter, told the scribes that US Power said she would send “a strong message to the government of Rwanda." Again, Shingiro blocks the Press on Twitter: some diplomat.

  One of the four handpicked pass-throughs opined that "the fact that Council members presented Nkurunziza with a largely unified message on the different issues was seen as a positive sign that they had come closer to a common position." So they traveled to Burundi to work on their own issues? We'll have more on this - and on the Council's junket-ending meetings in Addis, if not on Oromo protests, than this we've asked about.
January 18, 2016

To Burundi, UN Cites Small Plane From Addis to Ban Press, No Deployment Answers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 15 -- After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's mere a one-line mention of Burundi in his long Priorities for 2016 speech on January 14, when Ban took questions in front of the General Assembly Inner City Press five times began, "On Burundi." Inner City Press similarly requested to cover the UNSC's trip to Burundi.

  But of the five questions picked, fully four were on Syria; none on Yemen much less Burundi. So as Ban began walking away from his personal rostrum, Inner City Press asked him how his Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous could have written, here, that UN Peacekeeping is limited in its ability to address significant violence against civilians, even violence that amounts to genocide.

  The question was clearly audible, but Ban did not answer it, typically. Vine here. Moments later, Inner City Press got an answer about Ladsous' memo from an Ambassador of a Permanent Five member of the Security Council. Video here. UK Deputy Ambassador Peter Wilson said the goal of the UNSC trip to to have a proper talk with Nkurunziza, for a proper dialogue and change of course. New Zealand's lead ambassador is also going -- but Inner City Press is not.

 Earlier in the week when the decision was made for a Security Council trip, Inner City Press immediately replied to Ban's spokesperson's office that it was very interesting in going, as it previously covered Ban's trip to Sri Lanka and Council trips to Sudan, DR Congo and Cote d'Ivoire.

  Even Nkurunziza's adviser, facetiously or not, told Inner City Press on Twitter that he hoped Inner City Press would be on the trip. At 3 pm on January 14, Reuters' correspondent bragged at the UNSC stakeout they are going. And at 4:30 pm, Inner City Press got this, from Ban's spokesman:

"Due to space limitation in the UN flight accompanying the Security Council mission to Burundi, we regret to inform you that we will not be able to accommodate your request to travel. "

  So how / by whom is it decided which media can go? Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesman, Stephane Dujarrice, and another, this:

"Please describe how / by whom the decision on which media can accompany this trip was made, and which media have been allowed to go. Also, please explain why not one of the six questions Inner City Press submitted on January 12 and 13, including about Burundi, were answered, or even acknowledged."

 And these are not answered. Dujarric's office called "lid" to end the day. So on January 15, Inner City Press asked Dujarric in person, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: ...Zeid's findings.  How does this impact on the deployment of Burundian troops to UN peacekeeping in CAR?  And I wanted to ask you about the trip the Council is taking next week.  Can you describe how, by who… who and how the decision was made of which media can cover the trip?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Sure.  The numbers of seats attributed to media was very limited.  A discussion was had with us, and a number… Security Council members, and a list was drawn up.  Not every journalist can go on every trip.  I think if you're talking about yourself, you have traveled with the Secretary-General before.  As I said, not everyone can go on every trip.

Inner City Press:  Journalists were supposed to cover their own costs.  So what does the UN plane… is from where to where when you say there's a limited seats?

Spokesman:  There's a UN plane from Addis Ababa to, from Addis Ababa to Bujumbura and back to Addis with very limited numbers, which is also limiting the numbers of staff members who can accompany.  We wanted to send somebody to help mind the press.  We were not able to — we were not able to either.  [cross talk] If you make your own way to Bujumbura, we would be happy to assist you on the ground.

 We'll have more on this.

  Note that Ban's Office of the Spokesperson refused to answer any of Inner City Press' questions in the past two days, including two on Burundi, another on Ethiopia / Oromo, etc. What is WRONG with Ban's UN? Watch this site.
January 11, 2016

Online Censorship Opposed by ICP, Under EU "Privacy" & DMCA in US

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 9 -- What is censorship? Late on January 8, 2016, Inner City Press received a notice from Google that a page on its website, an article concerned Kosovo, would henceforth be blocked from Search from Europe. The notice is published below, along with Inner City Press' response.

  While still seeing this as censorship, at least in this case Google provided notice of what it had done, and a form to petition for the page's reinstatement. By contrast, when Reuters' UN bureau chief Louis Charbonneau ex parte claimed to Google that his email to the UN, seeking to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, was somehow copyrighted, Google did not provide any notice, but simply blocked access to the leaked document, from everywhere.

  Inner City Press only learned of this censorship by a fluke, and by the notice put up by the Chilling Effects project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF, hat-tip).

   That experience has led Inner City Press, alongside its reporting on the UN and IMF and on predatory lending by banks, under-regulation by the Federal Reserve and others, to dig into the ways in which the Trans Pacific Partnership could globalize the type of censorship the Reuters bureau chief got Google to do, using the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, DMCA. This has become a project of the new Free UN Coalition for Access.



  In this January 2016 case, here is what Google sent to Inner City Press:

"Notice of European data protection removal from Google Search

To: Webmaster of http://www.innercitypress.com/,

Due to a request under data protection law in Europe, Google can no longer show one or more pages from your site in Google Search results. This only affects responses to some search queries for names or other personal identifiers that might appear on your pages. Only results on European versions of Google are affected. No action is required from you.

What we’d like you to know: These pages haven’t been blocked entirely from our search results

They’ve only been blocked on certain searches for names on European versions of Google Search. These pages will continue to appear for other searches.

We aren’t disclosing which queries have been affected.
In many cases, affected queries don’t relate to the name of any person mentioned prominently on the page.

For example, the name might only appear in a comment section.
You can notify us of concerns

If you have additional information regarding the content of a page that you believe warrants a reversal, you can notify Google. Please note that while we read all requests, we do not always respond. Only the registered siteowner can access this form.
Here are the affected URL(s):

http://www.innercitypress.com/kosovo010307.html

  And here is what Inner City Press, confined to 250 characters per box, has sent to Google:

This article concerns Kovoso. Most individuals it it are public figures. Perhaps 1 individual in it filed a spurious request to censor. But see, for example, http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-serbia-kosovo-corruption-idUKL0314562220070103, online.

  Then

"Reporting on contested areas such as Kosovo is in the public interest and should not be censored, particularly not based on an anonymous complaint. This is a request for Google's response to  what we see as a form of censorship.

Inner City Press reports on the UN, and here, Kosovo. We note previously unexplained censorship and false invocation of copyright: http://www.chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi?sID=1117933 We request reversal of both, and an explanation."


  Watch this site.

January 4, 2016

UN Won't Name Staffer Who Was Told of CAR Rapes, Won't Answer on Ban's Travel

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 31 -- Ban Ki-moon's tenure as UN Secretary General became embroiled in one scandal after another in 2015 -- but at his “year-end” press conference he refused to answer a Press question directly on it. Video here and embedded below. Vine here.

 Beyond the indictments of the former President of the UN General Assembly John Ashe, Ng Lap Seng, Sherri Yang and others, on December 31 Inner City Press asked four of Ban's spokespeople questions including:

"Regarding the report on the sexual abuse in CAR and how the UN handled it, please state the identity of the senior officer in the Executive Office of the Secretary General do which a section of the report is devoted, or explain why your Office will not provide the name, in terms of accountability.

"Please confirm or deny that Andrew Gilmour is seeking employment outside of the EOSG, and provide the SG's view of its senior official leaving or seeking to leave before he does."

  Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, while leaving Inner City Press questions on Burundi and South Sudan entirely UNaddressed, sent this:

From: Farhan Haq [at] un.org
Date: Thu, Dec 31, 2015 at 12:11 PM
Subject: Press Qs in lieu of a UN noon briefing: Burundi, S. Sudan, Haiti, EOSG, still SG travel, UNOG, Ohio, Ethiopia / free press; still Jordan, UNHQ, UN scandals / reforms, Yemen; thanks in advance
To: Matthew Lee [at] InnerCityPress.com
Cc: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org, FUNCA [at] funca.org

"Regarding accountability and the CAR report, the panel put out the information it chose to provide and we have made available the entire report, without any redactions. Follow-up action is being studied at present.

"We have no comment on staff movements. Staff are free to seek employment opportunities."

  This last would appear to apply to yet another UN scandal in 2015: envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon negotiating a cushy job with the United Arab Emirates while purporting to represent the UN on Libya.

  With Ban off on a "private" visit to Vienna, tweeted by the UN Office there, the UN has yet to answer Inner City Press' simple question about the cost(s):

"With regard to the Secretary General's current trip to Vienna, tweeted by the UN there, for purposes of transparency including in light of the indictment of ex-UNPGA John Ashe and the new PGA's disclosures, what are the costs to the UN budget, and what are the other costs and who is paying them?"

  Hours later, on a UN work day, no answer.

The former President of the General Assembly John Ashe and four others have been indicted, Ashe for buying documents from Ban's UN Secretariat.

Ban's envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon was exposed by leaks as having taken instructions and then a job from the United Arab Emirates.

And Ban's head of UN Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, is listed in UN Dispute Tribunal documents as having tried to cover up child rapes in Central African Republic by peacekeepers from his native France.

  Inner City Press, which Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric did not call on despite calling two separate times on the same UN Correspondents Association scribe, asked audibly, “Do you have any update on the John Ashe indictment? Bernardino Leon? These were major developments this year.” Vine here.

  But Ban refused to answer the question. He walked out of the briefing room, shaking hands scribes. The press conference began with Dujarric setting aside the first question for the head of UNCA, who thanked Ban for attending an event on Wall Street for which UNCA charged $6,000 to sit with Ban. This is the UN Corruption Association.

December 28, 2015

On Burundi, As Imbonerakure Rally, PR at UN Mocks Countrymen, Bans Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 24 -- Amid killings by the security forces in Burundi, the Pierre Nkurunziza government with the agreement of UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has undertaken to deploy officers allegedly involved in human rights abuses into Ladsous' Central African Republic mission, MINUSCA, see below.

  Now Nkurunziza's Imbonerakure militia members are quoted by AP that "We would like to warn African Union troops that the majority of Burundians don't want them and they should not impose themselves on the people of Burundi." Here is a video of the ruling party demonstrations, on Facebook.

  Also on Facebook, Burundi's Permanent Representative to the UN Albert Shingiro -- who blocks Inner City Press from his Twitter feed -- tried to mock a protest by follow Burundians which Inner City Press covered on December 23, here. Some diplomacy: banning the Press from his statements, mocking rather than seeking to dialogue with his countrymen. To this has Burundi sunk.

 On December 24, Inner City Press asked for the second time, video here:

Inner City Press: whether you have any... first, any readout of Mr. Benomar's travels and attempts to speak with the Government in the region.  I'm asking you... yesterday there was… you may have seen it; you may not have seen it… there was a protest outside the building by Burundians, and in speaking with them, they judge the performance of the Secretariat as weak.

And I wanted to know, just to get, I guess, your response to that, and if there's any update on the deployment of these two, Pierre Niyonzima and Jimmy Rusheshe, both of whom have been linked to the hospital killings in May…

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:  On your second part, no, I have no update than what was given.  I know there are discussions going on.  I don't have an update to share with you.  On your first part, I think we can all agree on the frustration of the Burundian people as they see the violence increase in their country.  The Secretary-General, through the work of his Special Envoy, is very much focused on finding ways to move the political dialogue forward and to obviously see an end to the current violence that we're seeing.  He is currently in Kampala in Uganda meeting with local officials, and I believe there will be talks there early next week.

Inner City Press:  Will your office be sending stuff out during this break?

Spokesman:  Obviously, as I said, we'll be fully staffed.  If there are updates to share, we will share them with you.

   Back on December 17 Inner City Press was told, the third time it asked, that the Burundi's Army spokesman Gaspard Baratuza's deployment to the UN mission in CAR had been suspended, and Baratuza was being repatriated. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who has shielded Secretary General Ban Ki-moon from such Press questions, said "it's an example of the [vetting] policy working."

 But Inner City Press has obtained the Burundi government document for the deployment not only of Baratuza but other officers in Ladsous' MINUSCA. Today we focus and ask about Major Pierre Niyonzima.

According to Inner City Press' sources, Niyonzima not only defended extrajudicial executions, he participated in them.  On May 14, they say, Major Niyonzima was the Senior army officer who led the attack on the hospital where those accused of involvement in the attempted coup were slaughtered.  They say Niyonzima reports to Guillaume Bunyoni and has been involved in killings in Musaga, Nyakabiga and Mutakura. We'll have more on this, and on other deployees to Ladsous' MINUSCA, including  Jimmy Rusheshe.
December 21, 2015

ICP Asks UN & CAR Panel of Ladsous Failing to Respond on Rights, Ban's UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 17 -- The UN report on rapes in the Central African Republic, released today, finds that UN Peacekeeping's Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous “illustrate[s] the UN's failure to respond to allegations of serious human rights violations in the meaningful way.”

Once the report came out from under embargo at the noon briefing Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric what Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will do about the findings against Ladsous, and that he escaped the “abuse of authority” moniker only because “the mandate of the Panel is to assess whether an abuse of authority has occurred in connection with the Allegations.”

 Since the abusers Ladsous let into MINUSCA were not the French troops who are accused of rape -- these troops are not in MINUSCA -- Ladsous' malfeasance is not “in connection” with the Allegations. But is it acceptable?

  Dujarric seems unfamiliar with the report; he implied that the third person found to have abused authority was the Ethics Officer, when it was a lower level official in CAR. Inner City Press asked what this all says about Ban Ki-moon's management, along with the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng and Bernardino Leon scandal, a question Dujarric did not allow Inner City Press to asked Ban himself on December 16. “Those are your words,” Dujarric replied. Yes, they are.

  When the Panel's three members held their press conference, Inner City Press asked about Ladsous' failure to vet and his linking of rapes to “R&R.” Video here.  Marie Deschamps said pointedly she wouldn't comment on Ladsous' remarks; Yasmin Sooka said these are crimes for punishment, not recreation.

  As the last question, Inner City Press asked what it had wanted to ask Ban, and tried to ask Dujarric: what does this say about Ban's management? Video of Q&A here.
December 14, 2015

UN Corruption Association Sells Seats with Ban, Paparazzi Pioli

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 10 -- With the UN embroiled in scandals including the indictments of former President of the General Assembly and Macau businessman Ng Lap Seng and Frank Lorenzo and their South South News, one would expect the UN press corps, even the entity the UN itself chooses to set aside first questions for, to be pursuing rather than be involved in the scandals.

  But with the UN Correspondents Association, this year more than ever, that is not the case. The group or its leadership, headed by Italian paparazzi scribe Giampaolo Pioli who after trying to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN now covers actors like Morgan Freeman while others at his paper cover the UN, is selling seats with Ban Ki-moon for $6,000. See below.

  On December 10, days after Pioli used the large room the UN gives to UNCA, its UN Censorship Alliance, to campaign for a Security Council seat for his native Italy by giving out free meats, the view into the Club was blocked. So much for transparency.

December 7, 2015

IMF Answers ICP on Burundi, Program Off Track, & Zambia, No Request

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 3 -- When the International Monetary Fund held is biweekly briefing on December 3, Inner City Press submitted a number of questions, leading with Burundi and how much the IMF projects the economy will contract, given the crisis triggered by Pierre Nkurunziza's third term.

   IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice read out Inner City Press's Burundi question (and its question on Zambia, below), then said the following as to Burundi, audio here:

“In terms of the outlook in Burundi, it's effected by the decline in economic activity there and the . withdrawal of donor support. Confidence in the economy has been weakened by the political climate and adverse security developments. The growth rate in Burundi, which we had initially projected 5% in 2015, is now estimated at minus 4.1% in real terms.... In the current environment, completion of the 7th and the 8th review under our program there is not possible and as such, Burundi's program with the IMF, which is an ECF arrangement, is now off track.”

  Inner City Press had also asked, on Zambia, it is reported that the IMF “proposed a $1 billion facility which the president had turned down. A sticking point for the president was the insistence by the IMF that government commit to drastic reductions in expenditure, particularly on road construction.” What is the IMF's response?

   Rice said that no program has been “formally” requested, but that the Zambian authorities committed to “internal consultations.” Inner City Press had asked about Sri Lanka, and the same “no formal request yet” answer was given.Audio here.
 Inner City Press also asked about Malawi and, lastly, Ghana; more on this to follow.

November 30, 2015

With Saudi Set to Stone Sri Lankan Maid to Death, Threats to Sue for ISIS Comparisons

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 27 -- Last week the media in Sri Lanka reported on the case of a Sri Lankan maid sentenced to death by stoning in Saudi Arabia for adultery. (The man she is accused of having an affair with, also Sri Lanka, was sentenced to 100 lashes).

   This comes as Saudi Arabia threatens to sue those who say it is similar to ISIS, including on Twitter -- and while airstrikes on Yemen continue. Inner City Press has previously asked the UN about Saudi Arabia's still-theatened flogging of blogger Raif Badawi; last month it asked the UN's Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Christof Heyns about such executions in Saudi Arabia, specifically of Sri Lankans.  Video here.

 On January 23, 2015, Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access asked the UN Spokesman, video here:

Inner City Press: at the risk of being politically incorrect, on the King of Saudi Arabia, I saw the Secretary-General's statement, I'm trying to square it with what was said from this podium and from Geneva about the flogging of blogger Raif Badawi; is this something, without tying it necessarily to the condolence period, the incoming king, King Salman, can we say that the UN would be calling on him not to just postpone, but cancel this flogging of the blogger?

Spokesman Dujarric: I think our position on cruel and inhuman punishment, wherever it occurs, is unwavering. It doesn't change, no matter who the Head of State of any particular country is. So, I don't see our position on that and our opposition to that changing, whether it's here or the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Inner City Press / FUNCA: But it's sort of an opportunity--

Spokesman Dujarric: I think I've answered.

We'll have more on both of these cases.

November 23, 2015

In UN Rights Com'te, Syria, Iran and N. Korea Resolutions Pass Amid Complaints & Quibbles, On Syria Burundi Votes No, Sudan Abstains

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 19 -- When the annual Syria human rights resolution was taken up in the UN General Assembly's Third Committee on November 19, Saudi Arabia's new draft had some wrinkles, including citing Iran's IRG and Al Quds Force. Several countries, even some which voted “yes” on the resolution, said they were uncomfortable with this, that it is a bad precedent, and is more politics than human rights. This last was Switzerland; Japan said it was not comfortable with the reference to the IRG and Quds Force, but voted yes.

  Lebanon's Nawaf Salam said he had abstained, and pointed out that Hezbollah is in the parliament, and has a role with regard to Israel. Canada spoke up to say the resolution should have condemn all uses of chlorine gas, not only “indiscriminate” use.

  The final vote was 115 yes, 15 no and 51 abstaining. To Inner City Press, surprises included Burundi joining the 14 other "no's" -- and Sudan not voting no but rather abstaining - because because it works in the Saudi coalition on Yemen, in exchange...


November 16, 2015

On Libya, ICP Asks For Whom Leon Queries UAE (Himself), No Answer on Feltman

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 13, more here -- When Bernardino Leon, set for a $1500 a day job with the United Arab Emirates, came to the UN Security Council for the final time on November 5, Inner City Press asked  him about the UAE. He did not answer; Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access said; louder, that he should do a question and answer stakeout on UNTV.

 Leon did emerge and take questions; Inner City Press went first and asked him if he had sought approval from the UN Ethics Office before pursuing the UAE job, if he acknowledged the conflict of interest and thought it will impact intra-Libya talks. Video here.Leon did not answer about the UN Ethics office, but conceded that the “optics” were bad. Video here.

 The day after Leon said "I have decided to request a full clarification of the issue, including from the United Arab Emirates," Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq to WHOM Leon is seeking the clarification: the UN? The UN Security Council Libya Sanctions Committee? Video here.

 Haq replied that the sentence should be viewed as comprising the view of the Special Representative: Leon. So the UN, contrary to Reuters' headline, has not asked the UAE for anything.

 Inner City Press asked Haq if Ban has yet to remind his envoys in writing about ethics, as lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban would. Haq replied that the issue will come up at the next UN Chief Executives Board and Senior Management Gorup meetings. (AFP asked, what are those?)

 But that is not putting anything in writing to envoys like Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on Yemen, on whose outside interests Inner City Prress has exclusively reported. Nor would Haq answer Inner City Press what USG Feltman did from August 27, when he learned of Leon's dealings with the UAE.

  Leon's predecessor as UN envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri, however, got a formal "Note" from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, signed by Ban's chief of staff Susana Malcorra and cc-ed to Under Secretaries General Jeffrey Feltman (Political Affairs), Yukio Takasu (Management) and Joan Dubinksy (Ethics Office) approving outside activity for Mitri, which Inner City Press is putting online here, and embedded below.

  Among the continuing outside engagements approved by Ban Ki-moon were for Mitri to be on the Board of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, in Beirut and Doha.

  Did Leon get, or even seek, such a Note from Ban? The leaked emails show that Feltman knew of Leon's job search with the UAE by August 27, at latest.
 
  Now after more leaked emails, of the UAE about embargo / sanctions violations and that the UN's Jeff Feltman knew of Leon's UAE job search as of August 27 at latest, Leon on the evening of November 12 issued this:

November 9, 2015

Dead in Lahore, Haider Rizvi Covered Corporatization at UN, Opposed “Mafia”

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 31 -- The UN Spokesman ended his open statement at the October 29 UN noon briefing with this: “I have a bit of sad news.  We have been informed that Haider Rizvi, who was, as you know, a reporter in the UN press corps for many years, died last night in Lahore, Pakistan.  Our thoughts are with him and his family.”

   Ours too. Haider began covering the UN in 1993; in recent years there were times he and Inner City Press were the only ones asking questions at press conferences on indigenous issues, on disarmament, decolonization and against the increasing corporatization of the UN.

  Relatedly, when Inner City Press resisted attempts at censorship and ejection by the honchos of the UN Correspondents Association, then co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access, Haider expressed support (“Bravo! I am with you) and said of UNCA, “That gang has become a king mafia.”

  Now UNCA has been exposed taking money from indicted Ng Lap Seng's vehicle to which UNCA then have a “journalism” award while giving Ng a photo op with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. That is today's UN; Haider embodied or covered some of the better aspects of an earlier or Other UN.

Update: UN Security sources say Haider Rizvi died in a freak accident in a hospital - the cast coming off a fractured leg, he ran into a glass wall, got cut and bled out. Such a waste. Rest in Peace.

  Here are links to some of Haider's stories:

Police brutality (or in UN-speak, "Summary execution");

"U.N. Set to Take International Lead in Post-Gaddafi Libya," Inter Press Service (IPS);   Happiness
November 2, 2015

ICP Asks Heyns About Lankans Killed in Sri Lanka & Saudi, Killer Robots Talks

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 30 -- When the UN's Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Christof Heyns held a press conference on October 30, his topics were foreign nationals facing the death penalty and best practices in investigations. Inner City Press asked Heyns about Sri Lankans and others executed in Saudi Arabia, and the shrinking of the promised investigation into killings in Sri Lanka in 2009. Video here.

  Heyns said he had a case or cases about Sri Lankans in Saudi Arabia; he was generally upbeat about the process in Sri Lanka, saying there will be Commonwealth judges. Inner City Press might ask, what about Shavendra Silva? What about the UN's own role in the White Flag killings? Secretary General Ban Ki-moon almost reflexively calls for investigations. But what does the UN actually do?

   Inner City Press also asked Heyns about the (Stop) Killer Robots issues, specifically about the US and UK only agreeing to talk about “emerging” - that is, future - technologies, and not “existing” ones. Video here. (From Minute 4:36.) Heyns said yes that is the issue. We'll have more on this.

October 26, 2015

ICP Asks DESA About UN Rapes, Stats for Disparate Lending to Women

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 20 -- When the UN held a press conference on its statistical report on the status of women on October 20, Inner City Press asked how the issue of (disparate) lending to women, for small businesses and housing, was measured by the UN -- apparently it isn't -- and if UN Peacekeeping's immunity for sexual abuse doesn't contribute to the issue of victims not reporting what happens to them. Video here.

   UN DESA's Lenni Montiel gave a passionate response on sexual abuse, saying that as a Resident Representative he informed staff of all UN agencies, funds and programs that such conduct is unacceptable. In the hallway afterward, he made clear he was talking about UN civilians personnel, saying that peacekeeping is another matter. Indeed it is -- see here, where UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous on September 11, 2015 linking rapes to “R&R.”

   The lending question was construed as about inheritance and property rights -- it is distinct -- and was put under the rubric “Poverty.” Inner City Press cited, for the first time at the UN, the US Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. We'll have more on this.

On women, peace and security, does the UN live up to the mandates of UN Security Council resolution 1325? On October 13, Inner City Press asked visiting speakers from Syria and Libya if two UN envoys, Lakhdar Brahimi and Tarek Mitri, lived up to Resolution 1325. The answer was “No.” Video here.

   Mouna Ghanem of the Syrian Women's Forum for Peace said Brahimi didn't; she said that women shouldn't be used as window-dressing.  Amal Bugaighis of the Libyan Human Rights Association confirmed what Inner City Press had earlier reported, that UN envoy Tarek Mitri had been dismissive of CEDAW, the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

  The promotion for the press conference, at least as sent by the dubious UN Correspondents Association -- which took money from “brothel magnate” Ng Lap Seng, here -- said there would be a presentation from or about Yemen. But there was not, so it was impossible to ask about that UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. We'll have more on this.

Back on October 12, one month after UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous linked peacekeepers' rapes in the Central African Republic to "distraction" and R&R, here, Inner City Press asked Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, and Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, former UN official and lead author of a new Global Study about what Ladsous said, sitting where they were, about rapes and R&R.”

  Both said they hadn't seen Ladsous' comments, so Inner City Press tweeted the YouTube link to @phumzileunwomen and @UN_Women asking for their comments, even as they answered. After Coomaraswamy responded generally about linking rape to recreation, Inner City began to say, Sent you the link -- but was cut off by the UN Women moderator, who said “Let others ask questions.” But there was only one more question.

  Then, Inner City Press showed Coomarswamy the beginning of Ladsous' comments on a laptop. But the UN Correspondents Association sidekick cut in, “Excuse ME,” to ask yet another UN official to come to a $90 fundraiser. This is the same UNCA which took money from South South News then both gave it an award and produced Ban Ki-moon for a photo op with SSN's controller, the now jailed David Ng. This is UN, this is the UN. But what will  Mlambo-Ngcuka and Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy now do about Ladsous' comments? Watch this site.

October 19, 2015

On Scandal, ICP Publishes GSF, Kutesa & ITU Awards to Bongo & Hasina, Murky

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive follow-up

UNITED NATIONS, October 17 -- Some in the UN still purport to be surprised by the indictment of 2013-14 President of the General Assembly John Ashe on charges of soliciting bribes from Macao businessmen including the Sun Kian Ip Group's Ng Lap Seng and the Global Sustainability Foundation, while using and being used by South South (which, among others, gave money to the UN Correspondents Association, more here).

But there's more, much more.

On October 9, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the murky ITU and Kutesa award event on which it has already exclusively reported. Dujarric said to ask the ITU. 

 Now Inner City Press has obtained the video of the September 26, 2015 event, ITU with the Global Sustainability Foundation, one of only two NGOs Ban Ki-moon has asked OIOS to audit. In the video, Sheri Yan, charged with corruption, blathers at the microphone, followed by leaders such as Bongo of Gabon, Fiji's leader, UNESCO's Bokova, until “the Honorable Kutesa” hands awards to Asian businessmen, followed by “eager children.” Inner City Press is presenting the video here:

We'll have more on this.

  Tellingly, the two UNCA-world questions about the expanding scandal consisted of “any update” and a defense of the NGOs which are being accused. Well, South South gave money to UNCA. This is part of the story - and of the non-telling of the story.

What is surprising is that it took this long for the laxness not only of Ashe but of the President of the General Assembly office's structure and UN's easy penetration by business interests to lead to this. This includesdozens of Ambassadors flown to Macau in August 2015, and senior UN officials' interactions with NGOs beyond the two belatedly named by Ban Ki-moon on October 8. Inner City Press has asked, why not South South News, which gave money to the UN Correspondents Association and got a prize from it. 

Just last month Inner City Press witnessed an event inside the UN where Kutesa gave awards to Chinese businessmen, after ITU gave some to African strongmen. Where is the video? Who paid for this?

  Even just looking at the Global Sustainability Foundation, it paid Ashe's successor Sam Kutesa's wife and took Kutesa to China. Ashe's chief of staff now works for Kutesa's successor as PGA, Mogens Lykketoft, who has already let his PGA Office be used as part of the campaign for fellow Dane Helle Thorning Schmidt to take over the UN's refugee agency UNHCR.

October 12, 2015

On Scandal, ICP What Ashe's & Kutesa's Guards Saw, ITU, UNCA & South South

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive follow-up

UNITED NATIONS, October 9 -- Some in the UN still purport to be surprised by the indictment of 2013-14 President of the General Assembly John Ashe on charges of soliciting bribes from Macao businessmen including the Sun Kian Ip Group's Ng Lap Seng and the Global Sustainability Foundation, while using and being used by South South (which, among others, gave money to the UN Correspondents Association, more to follow).

But there's more, much more.

On October 9, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric what the duty of UN Security personnel who accompanied Ashe to Macau (and Kutesa to China with the Global Sustainability Foundation) was, to report crimes that they saw. Dujarric's answer, video to follow, included a statement that they DO have a duty to report the crime. But to whom?

  Likewise, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about the murky ITU and Kutesa award event on which it has already exclusively reported: who paid for the videotaping of it? And why, if it was filmed by UNTV, can't Inner City Press get a copy of the video? Dujarric said to ask the ITU. But UNTV is the UN Secretariat. We've put in the request; we'll have more on this.

  Tellingly, the two UNCA-world questions about the expanding scandal consisted of “any update” and a defense of the NGOs which are being accused. Well, South South gave money to UNCA. This is part of the story - and of the non-telling of the story.

What is surprising is that it took this long for the laxness not only of Ashe but of the President of the General Assembly office's structure and UN's easy penetration by business interests to lead to this. This includes dozens of Ambassadors flown to Macau in August 2015, and senior UN officials' interactions with NGOs beyond the two belatedly named by Ban Ki-moon on October 8. Inner City Press has asked, why not South South News, which gave money to the UN Correspondents Association and got a prize from it.

Just last month Inner City Press witnessed an event inside the UN where Kutesa gave awards to Chinese businessmen, after ITU gave some to African strongmen. Where is the video? Who paid for this?

  Even just looking at the Global Sustainability Foundation, it paid Ashe's successor Sam Kutesa's wife and took Kutesa to China. Ashe's chief of staff now works for Kutesa's successor as PGA, Mogens Lykketoft, who has already let his PGA Office be used as part of the campaign for fellow Dane Helle Thorning Schmidt to take over the UN's refugee agency UNHCR. 

On October 9 among five documents provided by the UN Spokesman to purportedly show that there ARE UN audits of PGA office functions or trust funds is one (A/68/628) acknowledging what must be acknowledged: that while Dujarric says the UN Secretariat has no connection to (or power to audit) over PGAs' trips, the UN Secretariat pays for “close protection detail” for the PGA on those trips.

Another, A/69/5 (Vol. 1), has a single line:

"Trust Fund in Support of the Office of the President of the General Assembly 53 483 365 171"

  That's it, for “president.” Compared to the details in the US affidavit against Ashe, it is laughable. As are the connections, South South and otherwise, with the UN Correspondents Association with which the UN partners. Simply as two examples, South South News gave money to UNCA; an UNCA president worked for South South Awards - this is the same UNCA whose president rented one of his apartments to Palitha Kohona then unilaterally granted his request, as Sri Lanka's Ambassador, to screen his government's war crimes denial film in the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium, here.

Now we can add: after South South gave money to UNCA, suddenly it was given an UNCA journalism award, such as UNCA will be doling out again in December, depending on the progress of investigation of the corruption scandal. Watch this site.

October 5, 2015

UNGA Ends Empty, Eritrea on Sanctions, Burundi Not Present, 4 Replies

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 3 -- On the final and presumably climactic day of the UN General Assembly Debate on October 3, 13 UN member states were scheduled to speak, followed by statements in the right to reply.

 Inner City Press came to find the UN's 42nd Street gate locked, and no lights in the hallways to the media and photo booths over the GA Hall, and no chairs in the booths. It stood and shot Periscope video, here and here, and live-tweeted the proceedings.

   Eritrea's speaker said “in the UN, the overwhelming majority of member states are marginalized” and that hit the nail on the head. The UN's media floor was empty, as was the clubhouse it gives its UN Censorship Alliance or UNCA (used just this week to serve the Syrian Coalition opposition, previously used to try to throw the investigative Press out of the UN). An African journalist asked the new Free UN Coalition for Access, “Where is the MALU desk?” It was gone. The UN Secretariat, too, didn't care about these states.

  Suriname talks about climate change, Maldives about the refugee crisis. Down on the GA floor, many countries' seats were empty, among them Bangladesh and Bulgaria (which wants the Secretary General post) and Burundi - tweeting this drew some government defenders, as did noting that Cote d'Ivoire did not, like even more servile Central African Republic, refer to “Moroccan Sahara,” but rather “Western Sahara.”

  Deputy SG Jan Eliasson joined Mogens Lykketoft on the podium but himself gave no speech. Lykketoft botched the procedure, closing the session before allowing of the rights of reply. In the end there were only Indonesia, Tonga and the Solomon Island, all about Papua, and Iran replying to Bahrain, Canada and the UAE.

 The Hall was empty for Canada; there followed some errata statement by Lykketoft about filling the post of Canadian OIOS chief Carman Lapointe. Down in front of the GA were the Permanent Representative of Palau and Liberia's Deputy. It was over, with a whimper and not a bang.
September 28, 2015

ICP Asks Bolivia's Evo Morales About Sovereign Debt Restructuring in UNGA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 26 -- The day after Pope Francis in his General Assembly speech denounced "usury, especially where developing countries are concerned," Inner City Press on September 26 asked Bolivia's President Evo Morales what the next steps for the sovereign debt restructuring proposals are in the UN General Assembly. Video here.

The Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution on the issue, with opposition from the US and some European countries, but new President of the General Assembly Mogens Lyyketoft of Denmark on September 25 said he didn't think the issue would be dealt with in the walls of the UN, see below. Morales replied that it requires political will, that anti-imperialist leaders see such debt as an aggression. He praised Latin America, Colombian President Santos' talk with the FARC, listing Malvinas Islands and the US embargo on Cuba as issues remaining to be addressed. He praised the BRICS.

  Previously the old UN Correspondents Association disrupted a Morales press conference to demand they get the first question. This time, further weakened, they weren't even there; Inner City Press thanked Morales for the press conference on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access.

Background: on September 25 Inner City Press asked new General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft about the comment and the process in the GA, at least in the last session, on sovereign debt restructuring. Video here.

  Lykketoft said that he didn't think the issue would be dealt with within the UN's walls -- strange, given that resolutions sponsored by Argentina, Bolivia and the Group of 77 and China on just his have passed by substantial majorities. Perhaps Inner City Press will have the opportunity to ask Lykketoft about this again: getting a question in to him is proving less straight forward that it should be, but we remain optimistic. Watch this site.

September 21, 2015

On S. Sudan, ICP Asks of Fighting in Maridi, Malakal, Leaked Sit-Rep of UNMISS

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 18 -- Since the South Sudan peace agreement was signed by President Salva Kiir, saying that he had reservations, fighting and re-supply has continued through the closed-down Juba airport and barges then headed to Malakal. 

 On September 17, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: I heard what you said from UNMISS about Maridi.  And I wanted to ask you, there was a [situation report] put out by UNMISS, I guess, yesterday, but it says there was fighting on 15 September there in Maridi between SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] soldiers and the local population.  Three civilians were shot in the incident, and people fled towards Maridi town for safety.  First of all, I'm kind of wondering why UNMISS didn't make this public at the time that the army was shooting at civilians.  But, two, is there any indication that this larger incident has anything to do with fighting?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I don't have any more details from UNMISS.  Obviously, there's been quite… there has been a number of incidents of violations of the ceasefire, a violation of the agreement rather that was signed, the IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority for Development] agreement.  The IGAD monitoring mechanism has reported them.  Their website is public and they've put them out.  As I get more information from the Mission, I'll share it.  Obviously, the Mission is also working very closely with the IGAD monitors in providing them logistical support as they can.

Inner City Press: I understand the ceasefire is one thing, but, the army killing civilians, isn't there sort of a UN role to report that?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I hadn't seen the [situation report].  I can look into it.

  More than 20 hours later, nothing. Inner City Press is publishing the UN situation report [sit-rep] here - it also reports on people needing to enter the UN's "protection of civilian" site in Malakal, but DOESN'T say if they were allowed in. We'll have more on this.

As New UNGA President Starts, His Team Takes Him to UN Censors' Club

 Back on September 14, Inner City Press asked more questions - to Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kutesa, here, and to the UN Spokesman, transcript here and below.

 On September 14, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric to confirm that Riek Machar has been invited to the UN's meeting on South Sudan on September 29:

Inner City Press: one follow-up on South Sudan.  There are reports that Riek Machar says he's been invited and is coming to New York.  Can you confirm?  Has he been invited to the meeting on 29 September?

Spokesman:  I'll check.

 But on September 15, Dujarric did not announce anything. So Inner City Press asked again:

Inner City Press: Salva Kiir has now said he's not coming to the UN General Assembly debate.  Yesterday you said you'd check if Riek Machar has been invited.

Spokesman Dujarric:  Yes, the Secretary-General invited the signatories of the agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan for the high-level meeting he's having on 29 September, and we very much hope that it will be attended at the highest level, to ensure that the implementation of the agreement receives the fullest possible support from the international community.

Inner City Press:  Would it be disappointing if Salva Kiir didn't come?

Spokesman:  I think we would expect and hope the highest level.

  While some say Kiir doesn't want to leave the country, thinking there could be another challenge to his power, others say he does not want to appear as a mere equal to Machar, and so sends his "other" vice president. We'll be there.

  Meanwhile Paul Malong, about whom Inner City Press has been reporting for weeks, and Johnson Olony, about whom Inner City Press asked Gordon Brown at the UN, were proposed to go on the UN sanctions list, according to a leak whose source we can imagine, with a silence procedure running to 3 pm on September 15. Inner City Press asked:  doesn't Malong still have some support, even high in the Obama administration, as well as other capitals? Silence was broken. No sanctions, at least for now.

September 14, 2015

Ladsous Links Rapes to "R&R," Ban & France Do Nothing, Scribes Cover Up

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 11 -- When peacekeepers from France allegedly raped children in the Central African Republic and the UN learned about it more than a year ago, the UN and UNICEF did nothing, until French UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous asked to fire the whistleblower Anders Kompass in March of this year, as stated in two UN Dispute Tribunal rulings.

  On September 11, refusing to answer on this, Ladsous instead linked the rapes to soldiers' lack of "distraction" and saying rapes could be avoided by some "relatively cheap R&R." Video here.

  While making such a link would result in firing in militaries all over the world, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has yet to act. Nor have Ladsous' French sponsors, who dumped him on the UN after he'd previously been rejected for the post by Ban's predecessor Kofi Annan, said anything.

 When Inner City Press started asking about this, Ladsous took to saying "I don't respond to you, Mister," right on UNTV. Instead he summoned Agence France Presse, Reuters and others to private briefings, as here in the hall. These media didn't report Ladsous' antics -- nor despite being present at Ladsous' September 11 press conference did they report his linkage of soldiers' rapes to their lack of "comfort" or R&R. This is today's UN.

  It was Senegalese Babacar Gaye, the head of the CAR mission, and not overall Peacekeeping chief Ladsous who was fired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; Inner City Press obtained and put Gaye's letter online here (credited here and here) citing systemic problems.

  Before Ladsous' carefully controlled four day visit to the country - no questions on the peacekeeper rapes, colonial photographs sent out - UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press, which asked, that Ladsous would take questions when he returned, including about peacekeepers' sexual abuse.

But when Ladsous appeared at the September 11 UN noon briefing, UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric for the second time did not allow Inner City Press to ask Ladsous a single question.
Dujarric gave the first question to the UN Correspondents Association, which after a perfunctory questions about the number of sexual abuse cases said its “real” question was if Ladsous will meet Obama. (Yes, apparently, and inappropriately, see below). Video here.

  Inner City Press prepared to ask Ladsous an obvious question: what is his response to appearing in at least two UN Dispute Tribunal rulings as having tried to get the whistleblower Kompass fired? But Dujarric gave the second question to a Reuters reporter who has previously channeled Ladsous, then to Agence France Presse, whose UN reporter in 2011 asked UNCA's board to act on Inner City Press' reporting on Ladsous.

Even with the questions allowed, Ladsous' answers should get him fired. First, speaking of sexual abuse, he said he didn't want to “deflower” the subject. Vine here. Then explaining the peacekeepers' rapes he said that a solution would be to get them more “recreation” (translating back and forth with Dujarric, Ladsous began to say “R and R”).

  Ladsous was asked, what do you mean? He said that Asian countries are good at this. We'll have more, but on top of his role in covering up rapes in DR Congo, Darfur and now CAR, this should get Ladsous fired. More here.
September 7, 2015

Nigeria's UNSC August Had Six Stakeouts, 2 Shakespeare Cites, E10

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 31 -- During the UN Security Council's wrap-up session on Monday morning, nearly every Council member cited the revelation of new allegations of sexual abuse by UN Peacekeepers during the month, in Central African Republic.

  On August 13 there was a closed door briefing on the topic, after which Council president Joy Ogwu waited patiently to provide a summary to the media. But the microphone, as she told Inner City Press the next day, was occupied. She did it on the 14th.

  Ambassador Ogwu did six question and answer stakeouts during August, down from nine during her previous presidency in April 2014 but still more than most presidencies, including by Permanent Five members.

   Perhaps because of her presidency, a number of other Elected Ten members spoke up during the month about the need for a more inclusive Council: not only Venezuela and Chad but also New Zealand. Angola spoke out on the respect due to the African Union, as did Ambassador Ogwu. There was a quiet dignity to the month, and at least two references to Shakespeare.

  Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access thanked Ogwu for this erudition at Nigeria's August 31 end of presidency reception in the UN's Delegates Dining Room; she countered with descriptions of each of the dishes, including beans and beef.

  During the wrap up session, Ogwu's four presidencies total was referred to by US Deputy David Pressman; another praised her for following up on what she did in April 2014.

August 31, 2015

From UN, Trump Ousting Ramos Echoes Ladsous & CAR Rapes, FUNCA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 26 -- Amid debate about Jorge Ramos of Univision and Fusion being ejected from Donald Trump's press conference in Iowa, then allowed back in to ask questions, from the United Nations the comparison is inevitable to UN Peacekeeping boss Herve Ladsous.

  Ladsous who after openly refusing to answer any questions from Inner City Press about rapes in DR Congo, Darfur and the Central African Republic used Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's guards to eject the Press from a supposedly open meeting, here.

  Ladsous has STILL not answered questions about his role in covering up peacekeepers' rapes in the Central African Republic. And the old-school UN Correspondents Association, UNCA, said nothing about that, or the ejection. That most corporate media just sucks up to power? Sadly, not news. That's why the Free UN Coalition for Access, FUNCA, was created, here.

  On August 26, as Ramos was interviewed by Megyn Kelly on FOX, over on CNN that network congratulated itself on not celebrating shooters, as it devoted hours to such coverage, of Vester Lee Flanagan a/k/a Bryce Williams killing TV journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward. But that's... another story.

August 24, 2015

In Buffalo, Ban Spins for M&T Bank Accused of Discrimination and Money Laundering

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 17 -- Buffalo based M&T Bank has the been stalled its in proposal to acquire New Jersey's Hudson City Savings Bank since 2012, due to US government allegations that M&T has violated lending and anti-money laundering rules.

  M&T's merger application has been challenged under the Community Reinvestment Act, including by Fair Finance Watch; the bank has been sued under the Fair Housing Act.

  But UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on August 14 gave a speech to “150 invited guests at M&T headquarters in downtown Buffalo.” 

  Did Ban mention the lending discrimination or money laundering charges? We don't know - unlike other speeches Ban gives, this one was not distributed to the press corp which covers the UN, much less put on the UN's website.

  It would have been easy for Ban and his team to learn about the status of M&T Bank by the most cursory of web searches. Bloomberg News on April 15 of this year reported that the bank's partner“disproportionately denied home loans to black borrowers -- 3.21 times more frequently than whites in the greater New York area  -- according to an analysis of public data by Fair Finance Watch.”
 
  This Bloomberg piece was published in the Buffalo News the same day; the Buffalo News back on October 10, 2012 quoted Fair Finance Watch that M&T made “119 loans to white borrowers, but just 17 to Hispanics, who were denied 1.91 times more often than white borrowers.”

   This same Buffalo News, which apparently alone until now reported on Ban's Buffalo trip, said that

“Ban Ki-moon may not be a household name. But as Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban is an international rock star in the realm of world affairs – the Mick Jagger of international diplomacy. Which begged the question:  Why was he in Buffalo Friday? There’s a story behind the visit. Ban, 71, was invited by Robert G. Wilmers, chairman and chief executive officer of M&T Bank. The two have known each other for some time, Ban said. He first met Wilmers during a foreign relations visit to the Republic of Korea, where Ban had served as minister of foreign affairs and trade prior to taking over as Secretary-General at the United Nations in 2007. Ban ended up inviting Wilmers to his home, where the two discussed matters of common concern. On Friday, Ban spoke at a dinner for about 150 invited guests at M&T headquarters in downtown Buffalo.”

   The question arises: who were the 150 people invited by M&T? Did they pay to attend, or gain invitations due to payments to or business arrangements with M&T? If so, is charge for a speech by the UN Secretary General appropriate?

   Ban has previously offered praise to banks and corporations with questionable records - but often this has been justified with the argument that to address climate change, you have to deal with polluters and those who finance them. But in this case, did Ban push for any changes at M&T? It is not even a member of the UN's “blue-washing” Global Compact. Did Ban even ask Wilmers?

Footnote: Wilmers may blame M&T's problems on underlings. Ban Ki-moon has experience with such scapegoating, most recently on rapes in the Central African Republic being blamed only on local commander Babacar Gaye of Senegal, and not his (and UN Peacekeeping's) boss, Herve Ladsous of France. We'll have more on this.
On UN Rapes, ICP Asks of CAR Spox Quote, Whistleblower, US Power

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive series

UNITED NATIONS, August 14 -- When peacekeepers from France allegedly raped children in the Central African Republic and the UN learned about it a year ago, the UN and UNICEF did nothing, until French UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous asked to fire the whistleblower in March of this year. 

  Babacar Gaye but not Ladsous was fired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; Inner City Press obtained and put Gaye's letter online here (credited here).

  After Ban Ki-moon briefed the Security Council behind closed doors, US Ambassador Samantha Power but not UNSC President Joy Ogwu of Nigeria spoke for 24 minutes at the stakeout (while taking questions only from Reuters, AP and the WSJ.)

  On August 14, Inner City Press asked Central African Republic and UN Peacekeeping rape questions to Ambasssador Joy Ogwu (video here); she replied to Inner City Press:

"Well, I thought I would brief yesterday, but I waited for a long time, this podium was busy, so I decided to leave. Well, there was a consensus on the action that was taken. I think it was Shakespeare who said, there is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune. The Secretary General got to the point where he drew the line. To say, to indicate that there is, and to reaffirm zero tolerance on this matter of sexual violence against women. I don’t think there were any differences on the action that he took, we supported that action, and indeed that it should broaden beyond the Central African Republic. A