Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

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

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

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



ICP on YouTube

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

As Pillay Says 60,000 Dead in Syria, Qs of Benetech & US State Department

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 2, updated below -- That too many people have been killed in Syria is without a doubt. But how many? The day after New Years the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the figure has reached 60,000. A sample major UK newspaper said these were "UN figures."

  Not so fast. The number is from an outside contractor chosen and presumably paid by the OHCHR, Benetech, which says that it used figures collected from seven different sources, some of dubious objectivity, and none of them "UN" sources.

  Various Inner City Press readers had questions about the figures, then about Benetech. A Security Council member asked Inner City Press, of the figures, "how do they know, with no presence in the field?"

    Inner City Press went to Benetech's website, there finding that of eight listed funders, one is the National Endowment for Democracy and another the US State Department.

  So Inner City Press wrote to Navi Pillay's spokesman Rupert Colville, who in the past has often been quick and helpful with some answers, initally about the Democratic Republic of Congo. Inner City Press asked:

"Quick questions on deadline: first, please confirm that the new Syria study was commissioned by OHCHR from Benetech, and that it is this Benetech:

"Then, the real question(s): please describe when and how it was decided to commission this study, how much was paid, and how the selection / procurement process settled on Benetech. And please comment on the idea that choosing a firm which lists the US State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy among its eight funders might call into question its impartiality or objectivity."

   The questions were sent before 11 am New York time, but four hours later, no response from the OHCHR. It would seem that the questions should be answered.

 In this case, Benetech used data from ": 1) the Violations Documentation Centre, the documentation arm of the Local Coordination Committees; 2) the Syrian Network for Human Rights, 3) the Syrian Revolution General Council  which was combined with the SNHR;  4) the Syria Shuhada Website, 5) the March 15 Group; 6) the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and 7) the Syrian government."

  No, these are not now "UN figures."

   Back in September, UNICEF announced 1600 dead in one week in Syria. But when Inner City Press inquired, OCHA disavowed the figures, which were only from media accounts. They are laundered to become "UN figures."

Footnotes: from before Christmas, Inner City Press is still waiting for an answer to this: "will OHCHR play any role in, or does it have any comment on or guidance for, the (now third) review of UN action and inaction in Sri Lanka in 2009, now chaired by DSG Eliasson and to be completed in the 2d quarter of 2013?"

  The UN system would never stand behind -- in fact it covered up -- casualty figures in Sri Lanka. It would have been good to do enumeration then, when the UN had people on the ground. If that's a lesson learnt, good. But it should be done transparently. How was Benetech selected and how much were they paid?

 Inner City Press also let Colville and the OHCHR know, "still NO information from DPKO on which FARDC units were in Minova during the 126 rapes in late November, nor even which FARDC units MONUSCO works with or supports. Growing doubts about this 'Human Rights Due Diligence Policy'" -- a UN system policy in which the OHCHR ostensibly plays a major role.

  The stonewalling of DPKO chief Herve Ladsous should not be allowed to be the whole UN's position - or will it be? Watch this site.

Update of 6:30 pm -- receiving no answers from OHCHR after seven hours, Inner City Press asked Benetech in San Francisco similar questions. The questions have been referred, seemingly to Atlanta, area code 404.

  Meanwhile in Washington, US spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, "we’ve seen this report by UN Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay." But the report is BY Benetech, a fundee of the State Department. All we're saying is that the questions should be answered. Watch this site.

Share |

* * *

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

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

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-253, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2012 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]