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At UN, Still No Answer to NYCLU on Accreditation Rules, 48 Hours Notice

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 11 -- One week ago today, the New York Civil Liberties Union wrote to UN officials asking for a public explanation of their standards for revoking media accreditation.

  NYCLU's request was explicitly triggered by Voice of America's executive editor Steve Redisch's June 20 request to the UN's Stephane Dujarric, on behalf of VoA's Margaret Besheer and unnamed "others," to "review" the accreditation status of Inner City Press. (While the Broadcast Board of Governors has sought delay, Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Act request to determine among other things the identity of these "others" is proceeding.)

  On July 6, Inner City Press asked the Office of the Spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for their response to NYCLU's request. In the five days since there has been no response at all.

   But on July 11, Ban's lead spokesman Martin Nesirky told Inner City Press, "I'm going to have another word with Stephane Dujarric about this" -- apparently because he didn't like how Inner City Press asked a question about Western Sahara.

  This shows the lack of awareness by the UN, at least by the Secretary General's lead spokesman, that there is a problem turning a disagreement about press questions or coverage into complaints to the UN's media accreditation officials.

  Now Inner City Press has become acutely aware of another sample problem of UN media accreditation, the case of a journalist covering the UN for 17 years on issues ranging from disarmament and develoment to the indigenous who has now been told, with only 48 hours notice, to either produce a new letter of accreditation or give up not only his cubicle office space but also his accreditation.

  Inner City Press interviewed the journalist at issue on Wednesday night and was shocked by the lack of notice, and by the lack of support he received from the Correspondents Association, whose president merely advised him to "get another letter."

   The reality is that other reporters at the UN, including non UNCA members, have been given far longer to regularize their status, after a former employer either disavowed them or went bankrupt. It's as the NYCLA has asked: what ARE the rules?

  If there are other unstated reasons for this "purge," some raised behind the scenes by Xinhua and the Correspondents Association's president against one of his own members, they should be disclosed and a response allowed -- that's what the NYCLU letter and applicable case law requires. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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