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UN Says Ban Won't Travel to North Korea Next Week, ICP Asked of DPRK Presser

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 17 -- When Ri Hung Sik, Ambassador at-large of the Democratic People's Republic of Korean, held a press conference at the North Korean mission on November 17, he said that he had heard nothing, nothing at all, about UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visiting North Korea, which Yonhap ascribed to a senior UN source.

Even when asked a leading question about a hypothetical Ban trip, Ri Hung Sik said Ban's UN would have to improve its relations with DPRK. Inner City Press is putting the audio online here, and embedded below.

 Inner City Press ran back to the UN and asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, transcript here:

Inner City Press: here was just a press conference at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) mission, and there their minister, Ri Hung Sik, asked about the Secretary-General's possible reported trip, said he's heard nothing about it at all and that there are many rumours on the internet.  He also said that this South Korean national security law that makes it illegal for South Korean citizens to speak positively of the DPRKÖ that's how he described itÖ should be looked at by the UN.  So I wanted to know, what is the Secretary-General's view of that law?  And if that's an accurate description, is he bound by it?

Spokesman:  I'm not aware of the law.  As far as Ban Ki-moon, he is the Secretary-General of the United Nations and is doing his duty as such.

   But why did Team Ban play it so coy on Yonhap's report? Now late on November 17, the UN has issues this more specific denial:

"In response to questions asked about a report from Xinhua and the Korean Central News Agency stating that the Secretary-General would be travelling to the Democratic Peopleís Republic of Korea next week, the Spokesman had the following to say: The Secretary-General will not be travelling to the DPRK next week. He will be in New York most of the week and then travel to Malta for the Commonwealth Summit. From there, he will go to directly to Paris to attend CoP21. The Secretary-General has repeatedly said that he is willing to play any constructive role, including traveling to the DPRK, in an effort to work for peace, stability and dialogue on the Korean Peninsula."

  Before Inner City Press left the DPRK mission on November 17, it asked Ri Hung Sik for his view of UN Special Rapporteur Marzuki Darusman and when or if UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid will visit North Korea.

  Of Darusman, Ri Hung Sik said he met him only once, and that it seems Darusman does not speak his own words, or think his own thoughts. Of Zeid, he said the discussion is of technical cooperation, but no date was given. Video here.

   During the press conference, Reuters asserted that they had been no vote on last year's DPRK human rights resolution. Ri Hung Sik said Reuters was wrong, and it was. Then even though it had earlier cut in with a follow-up questions, Reuters cut off another correspondent trying to ask a follow-up about Qatar, on which Ri Hung Sik cast some blame. There was no question, as at a prior DPRK press conference, about Donald Trump.

  Back on October 28 when Darusman held a press conference about the DPRK, Inner City Press asked him to comment on the recent Intercept report that the US Pentagon used an NGO to spy in North Korea. Would the UN Special Rapporteur advise member states, particularly those concerned about human rights in DPRK, not to use NGOs to spy? Video here.

  Well, no. In fact, Darusman said that such spying might be justified. Video here. Inner City Press asked him about DPRK's allegation that its sailors in the Mudubong ship detained in Mexico were suffering human rights violations. Darusman answered, but it was not clear.

 InnerCityPro.com has transcribed both answers:

Inner City Press: Do you have any recommendations to the international community in terms of whether itís good practice to use NGOs to collect intelligence? And, the Mission here brought up the alleged detention of their sailors on the Mu Du Bong, have you looked into this?

Darusman: On the first part, Iíve seen the news report on that but I have not really looked into that at this point. The nature of the problem is very specific. It has to do with a case of what is being reported in the media. I hesitate to comment too far and I would perhaps seek further clarification on this issue by contacting parties that would be knowledgeable about this. I wouldnít want to speculate on the truth of untruth. But this again brings up the whole dimension of the North Korea problematic, and this is that, it is such an isolated society, where information is at a high premium, and ways and means need to be sought to gather information to get a picture of what is happening there. I can understand that these things could happen. But to what extent the details are the way they are.

On the second issue, treatment, certainly this is part of the mandate of rapporteur, to look at the well being of the North Korean peole either inside or outside the country. I will certainly be looking into this and planning out further what is the state of this matter, and this sort of merges into the bigger picture of mistreatment of NK workers in other regions of the world, including the Middle East and Russia.


What are the effects and place of sanctions and "de-SWIFT-ing" on countries, as relates to human rights? Inner City Press on October 27 asked the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, for this view, both in his formal reports and as reported.

  Specifically, Inner City Press asked if the removal of Iran from SWIFT made the purchase of medicine more difficult, and about a comment attributed to him the day before by Reuters, in an article that did not disclose where or in what context Shaheed said he favor travel bans and other "smart" sanctions.

  Shaheed said he does not favor general sanctions; to another question he appeared to step back from supporting sanctions on individuals. Inner City Press asked him directly where and with whom (at least, which countries' delegations) he had met the day before.

  The Reuters quotes (and a related CBS "humble-brag" in the UN's October 27 noon briefing, which may not have given rise to any actual reporting) he said were from a "breakfast with media" sponsored by Human Rights Watch. HRW unlike other NGOs does not disclose or open such session, nor would it tell Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access, when they asked, what HRW had raised to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

 Shaheed said he met met with the Missions of the US, (South) Korea, UK and Canada. Seeming to note the lack of balance, he added, "Iran." Oh.

  Still, Shaheed is one of the more transparent Rapporteurs; Inner City Press briefly asked him about Maldives afterward. Watch this site.

On October 26 when Idriss Jazairy, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights held a UN press conference, Inner City Press asked him about sanctions on Sudan and Eritrea, his proposal for a registry, and about the use of SWIFT to in essence impose sanctions. Tweeted photo here.

  Idriss Jazairy declined to comment on Eritrea, saying Security Council sanctions are being his jurisdiction. He was critical of unilateral measures on Sudan, which he said he will visit in November. He likened his registry proposal to that in place for conventional arms.

  On SWIFT, he said he its use makes it impossible, for example, for cancer patients in Iran to get medicine. Earlier on October 26, the past president of UNCA, now the UN Censorship Alliance, bragged about UN Rapporteur Ahdmed Shaheed's "preview" of his presentation on Iran, which Reuters later channeled without saying where Shaheed spoke. Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access asked the OHCHR spokesperson, who said he didn't know. We'll have more on this.
 

On October 20 when the UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Mťndez held a press conference, Inner City Press asked him for his view of the only partial release of the US Senate's report on CIA torture, about Guantanamo Bay and whether he thought President Barack Obama's visit to a prison might make his long-pending request to visit US prisons move faster. Video here.

   Mendez said there should be more release(s), and accountability. He said he had had to request the US' conditional offers to visit Guantanamo Bay and US prisons, as he would not be allowed to speak with all prisoners. He praise Obama's visit, but still - Mendez can't get in.

On October 16 when the Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Benyam Dawit Mezmur held a press conference at the UN, Inner City Press asked him about US President Barack Obama's decision to continue to provide military aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan, despite all four being on the UN's (and US') lists on children and armed conflict. Video here. 

    Benyam Dawit Mezmur said that while the US is the lone holdout on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the issue can still be gotten-at under the Optional Protocol. Inner City Press asked about the sexual abuse of children in the Central African Republic by French and UN peacekeepers.

   Benyam Dawit Mezmur replied that the Committee is asking France about the alleged sexual abuse of children, and will conduct a review in January. We aim to have more on this.

  At the press conference, there were only two correspondents, as there was an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Palestine at the same time. Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access thanked Benyam Dawit Mezmur for the briefing but suggested that in the future postponement of briefings, so that more journalists could attend, be considered. UNCA wasn't present at all; nor has it disclosed the extend of funding and connection by indicted David Ng and Frank Lorenzo and their affiliates.

 Also on the UN, when the UN find a staff member using the UN's email system to trafficking in sexual images of minors, a crime, what does it do? On October 16, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about this paragraph from a UN report it had dug up:

ď49. A staff member sent, through the Organizationís e-mail system, pornographic material, including pornographic material involving a minor, and failed to report that another staff member had sent the staff member inappropriate material though the Organizationís e-mail system. Disposition: dismissal.Ē

  Inner City Press asked, was that all that happened, dismissal? Such that the person could, for example, work in a day care center? Haq said in instances the UN waives immunity.

  Inner City Press asked, how would law enforcement know that the person had used the UN's email system for child porn? Haq said there have been cases in which the UN told local authorities. Inner City Press asked, did it do so in this case? Apparently, the UN will not answer this. For now. Here are other paragraphs:

46. A staff member stored pornographic material, including pornography involving a minor, on the staff memberís United Nations computer, distributed other pornographic material through the Organizationís e-mail system and failed to report that another staff member had sent the staff member inappropriate material through the Organizationís e-mail system. Disposition: dismissal.

47. A staff member sent, through the Organizationís e-mail system, and stored on the staff memberís United Nations computer, pornographic material involving a minor and, on other occasions, distributed, through the Organizationís e -mail system, other pornographic material. Disposition: dismissal.

 48. A staff member sent, through the Organizationís e-mail system, pornographic material involving a minor and, on three other occasions, distributed other pornographic material through the Organizationís e-mail system and stored pornographic material on the staff memberís United Nations computer. Disposition: dismissal.

 The report is entitled "Practice of the Secretary-General in disciplinary matters and cases of criminal behaviour, 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015."

We'll have more on this. Watch this site.

 

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