Omitted From UN Study of Internet Access by ITU, No Comment on
Cuba, Dissident's Death
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 24 -- Access to the Internet in 161 countries was
compared by the UN's International Telecommunications Union in a
recent report, Measuring the Information Society 2010. Inner City
Press asked ITU's Susan Teltscher whether her agency considered the
quality and content of the internet provided -- that is, censorship
-- noting the exclusion from the final data tables of such countries
as Turkmenistan, Cuba and North Korea.
that ITU did not consider internet censorship. Why not? It "cannot
be captured in statistics," she replied. Video here,
some, any UN
study of access to the Internet should take into account the
varieties of Internet censorship, from China's Great Firewall to more
total bans in countries like North Korea. The press conference's
moderator, ITU's New York representative, said that the ITU like the
rest of the UN system supports Article 19, on access to information
across frontiers in all media.
Ki-moon's two envoys Lynn Pascoe and Kim Won-soo recently visited
Pyongyang, they did not even raise the issue of press and internet
freedom. Click here
for that story. Likewise, in November 2009 when
protesters raised a banner about China's net blocking at a UN
conference in Egypt, UN security removed the banner. Click here
that someone study the pricing of Internet access. But an entirely
amoral investment bank could do that, as a business proposition. For
the UN to fail to include some measure or mention of censorship in
its more than 100 page study of
ITU's Susan Teltscher on Feb. 23, internet
censorship not shown
while Cuba was omitted from the ITU final tables, on February 24 UN
Martin Nesirky was asked:
On Cuba, yesterday, a Cuban political prisoner called Orlando Zapata
Tamayo died after 85 days on hunger strike in prison. And people in
Cuba and Latin America in general are very shocked by this event and
they consider it as a clear human rights violation. My question is,
does the UN have a comment on this issue or will have a comment on
Nesirky: The Secretary-General is aware of the case. We don’t
have anything to say at the moment. But he is aware of the case. We
don’t have anything to say at the moment.
But will you say something?
Nesirky: I said he doesn’t have anything to say at the moment
Zapata Tamayo is dead. Even Raul Castro has "lamented" it. But the UN's
Ban Ki-moon is aware but silent.
* * *
UN, CPJ on Pariah States N. Korea and on Sri Lanka,
Buying Tickets, Iran's Eye
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 16 -- The Committee to Protect Journalists on
February 16 called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to be more
forceful about the importance of press freedom. Inner City Press
asked CPJ's Asia expert Bob Dietz about what Mr. Ban and CPJ have
done as the Sri Lankan government of Mahinda Rajapaksa has closed
down opposition newspapers, reporters have been killed and websites
blocked. Video here,
from Minute 40:08.
Dietz said that
"no one knows how to handle the direction in which the [Sri
Lankan] government is going, which is not friendly to the media."
He said it might join the "pariah states" of Myanmar,
"Burma, North Korea and Zimbabwe," but for feisty
journalists who put themselves at risk.
as to what CPJ
does, Dietz said "right now we
are hanging back with a lot of
people," trying to figure out whether to "come down hard or
engage in quiet advocacy."
City Press asked Dietz for more specifics
about this "quiet"
approach, which the UN seems to share, in the most benign
interpretation of Ban's visit in May 2009 after what even the UN
called the "bloodbath on the beach" and since.
Children and Armed Conflict mandate, which belatedly sent Patrick
Cammaert to Sri Lanka in December, never had him brief the Press
afterwards. Radhika Coomaraswamy, when Inner City Press asked her
about this silence last week, said that Cammaert went to Europe to
get married after his trip, then it was "too late" to brief
the press about his visit.
Dietz said that
the opposition press in Sri Lanka asks that particular journalists'
cases "not be publicized," as it would only make things
worse. "Just get us out of here," Dietz said such
journalists ask, adding the CPJ helps with plane tickets.
correspondent remarked afterwards is that "quiet advocacy is
what diplomats do, not journalists or their organizations."
Masked rally for press freedom in Sri Lanka,
Jan 2009, UN and CPJ's tickets out not shown
asked CPJ's deputy director Robert Mahoney about the UN's own envoy
to Somalia Ahmedou Ould Abdallah having called on a "moratorium"
on Somali journalists reporting on the killing of civilians by the
African Union peacekeepers of AMISOM.
it is up to
journalists to make their own editorial decisions. Ironically, Ban
Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky has, at least in his first month
on the job, said such things as "that's not a story."
on the podium
was Newsweek journalist and filmmaker Maziar Bahari, about whom CNN's
Fareed Zakaria devoted the foreword to CPJ's study. As Bahari spoke,
a representative from Iran's Mission to the UN sat in the UN press
hall's front row, taking notes.
mission has invited UN
correspondents -- including this one -- to a celebration of Iran's
national day on February 18. Inner City Press told Bahari about the
event, encouraging him to come and cover it. Watch this space.
three hours after the CPJ press conference on its report, "Attacks
on the Press in 2009," which names North Korea as the world's
most censored country, Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban's senior
advisor Kim Won-soo and political advisor Lynn Pascoe if they had
even raised press freedom during their recent trip to Pyongyang. Video here.
Mr. Pascoe said. Inner City Press asked Mr. Kim to respond for Mr.
Ban on CPJ's wider call to be more forceful on press freedom. While
he answered about UNDP in North Korea, he did not answer on press
freedom. Inner City Press has at UN noon briefings asked for Mr. Kim
to come and answer questions more often. We'll see.
In another UN footnote, CPJ's genial Mr. Dietz granted
an interview to a student reporter, Melissa Best, whose piece should
air as part of WNYC's Radio Rookies program. Ms. Best, who aspired to
be a US diplomat, told Inner City Press that North Korea's nuclear
ambitions might call for more stick and less carrots. The show should
air -- and Internet -- in June...