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As HRW Faux-Fights UN on Kosovo Lead, It Goes Light on Retaliation, Its Censorship Link

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 7 – Amid vague claims of reform at the UN, even the victims of high profile UN malfeasance such as bringing cholera to Haiti and abuse of children in the Central African Republic remain without any remedy. The Roma in Kosovo, poisoned by lead in a UN camp, as well: on 19 April 2017, Inner City Press asked the UN's still holdover spokesman Staphane Dujarric about it, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you, the Roma that were poisoned by lead in the UN camp, I’ve seen your quote, but I wanted to know more specifically, if it’s true that the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) is recommending that the delays attributable… the delay in making some kind of a payment or reparations to the people who have been poisoned for so long is being delayed by OLA not wanting to admit liability, what has the UN system, including the Secretary-General, learned from the situation of Haiti, which many people describe as a shameful one for the UN in which no one has really received much compensation and it went on for years?  What’s been learned from that? Spokesman:  Look, I understand that people may be interested in what is being said behind closed doors.  There are discussions going on between various parts of the house.  The Secretary-General will make a decision in the very near future on how to respond to this particular case in Kosovo.  I think if you ask what we’ve learned is that there is a need for… I think there is a need for continued care and compassion on how the UN operates. Inner City Press: What about the speed of decision-making?  I guess, one of the things that people point to in Haiti is that six years of denials, etc., so is this… does this speed what the UN would want to do going forward, or is there some desire… obviously, you’d have to… [inaudible] Spokesman:  I think all these questions are complicated and complex, and they, unfortunately, take time. Inner City Press:  When is the decision expected. Spokesman: "As I said, very soon." Now on September 7, Human Rights Watch is sending its UN lobbying to speak at the UN, not in the UN Press Briefing Room but rather a private club he was a part of, on the topic. But beyond refusing to make any disclosure of the issues HRW raises to the Secretary General, there are other issues. Even a recent HRW report about the UN in Geneva misses a major point about the UN - which HRW generally likes, its lobbyist having asked Dujarric to throw Inner City Press out of the UN, and "leaked" documents to Dujarric saying "you didn't get this from me" - specifically, OHCHR going after not only Inner City Press but also the whistleblower protection group Government Accountability Project. After chasing out of the UN Anders Kompass who exposed the rape of children in the Central African Republic by French "peacekeepers" and Miranda Brown, Zeid next retaliated against staff member Emma Reilly. Inner City Press covered the story and was nearly immediately condemned, along with the DC-based Government Accountability Project, in a tweet and press releases by Zeid's spokesperson Colville, who never responded to a simple question. On February 14, Inner City Press sent Colville questions about OHCHR's ongoing gagging of Ms. Reilly: "Inner City Press has a few questions it'd like answers to as soon as possible: whistleblower Emma Reilly tells us that “OHCHR now claims I can't speak because of the staff rule that 'in no circumstances should [staff members] use the media to further their own interests, to air their own grievances, to reveal unauthorized information or to attempt to influence their organizations’ policy decisions.' No response to my email on how this squares with OHCHR airing grievances against me by falsely stating my claims had been found to be unsubstantiated.” Is that in fact OHCHR's position? In terms of OHCHR calling things unsubstantiated, on social media and in a press release, is OHCHR denying that the Ambassador of Morocco financial supported the sale of Mr Eric Tistounet's book?" No answer. And so this question has arisen, paraphrased: "about OHCHR whistleblower Emma Reilly. When her case leaked in February, OHCHR issued a press release (on February 2) confirming it gave names as she had reported, but claimed this was standard practice, so she wasn't a whistleblower. In a written response to Human Rights Watch of 30 August, OHCHR now claims names are not handed over. The next session of the Human Rights Council starts on Monday. Which of these contradictory positions are true? Now that the danger of giving these names is clear, will OHCHR finally investigate Eric Tistounet, who decided that names should be given? And, as a follow-up, can you confirm that Emma Reilly's case is still under consideration by the Ethics mechanisms? It has now been 420 days since she applied for protection, and she remains without relief. How does this square with the SG's claims to have improved whistleblower protection?"  HRW present this as death by a thousand cuts. It's not. It's policy, and the rot started back in March 2013 in the Human Rights Council Secretariat. We'll have more on this.


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