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On Liberia, HRW Pitches Report Then Denies Access, Sale of Dip Creds Shown?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 22 -- The Liberia report by Human Rights Watch was pre-spun on Twitter starting two days ago. HRW's European media director cited it, and said journalists wanting an embargoed copy should contact him.

  Since Inner City Press covers Liberia and its big UN Peacekeeping mission, it requested a copy by direct message, since this HRW staffer follows @InnerCityPress. But nothing. So a second request was sent by e-mail. Again, nothing.

(In New York, HRW's lobbyist who formerly covered the UN for France 24 and Le Monde sends canned quotes such as last night's about the Security Council's Syria meeting to a handpicked list that does not include Inner City Press, despite repeated requests. This started when Inner City Press asked to know what topics director Ken Roth raised to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. That request was denied, on the rationale that HRW wouldn't say in order to retain access: "To preserve our ability to have frank discussions with UN officials and advance our advocacy goals, we don't typically communicate on the content of discussions we have with them.")

  So Thursday morning when the report was supposed to be available to the world at large, Inner City Press checked in. HRW was tweeting about the report, linking to a press release which promised a link to the 64 page report. But clicking there led to this: "Access denied: You are not authorized to access this page." Speaking of access.

Must be a URL snafu. But two tweets to the HRW European media director resulted in: nothing. The second asked if the report addresses the involvement of the highest Liberian officials in the sale of diplomatic credentials shown in Mads Brugger's film "The Ambassador." Watch this site.


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