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On Sahel Private Militias UN Gilmour Flaunts Concern Silent on SG Guterres Use of UN Security to Censor

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT NY Post

UNITED NATIONS GATE, January 24 – After in Burkina Faso the cabinet of Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thieba resigned, giving President Roch Marc Christian Kabore a freer hand to crackdown amid terrorist attacks. Back on early January the UN's increasingly irrelevant Secretary General Antonio Guterres, censoring to conceal his links to the China Energy Fund Committee, grandly said in a robo-statement through his spokesman Stephane Dujarric that he "reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to support Burkina Faso in its efforts to fight terrorism, sustain its security sector reforms, promote national reconciliation and create conditions for sustainable peace and development." Then... nothing. Nothing except on January 17 Guterres telling UN staff that human rights questions to governments are "impolite" and "arrogant," video here. Now a statement on the wider Sahel and "private militia" - like what Guterres has turned UN Security into - from UN Human Rights Commissioner Bachelet's New York rep Andrew Gilmour: "Senior UN human rights official, Andrew Gilmour, has welcomed the commitment of countries of the Sahel to protect the rights of civilians as they confront terrorism, and warned of the dangers posed by the growing number of ethnic-based private militias.     At the end of a nine-day visit to the region, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights said he was encouraged by the willingness of Sahel countries to adhere to international human rights and humanitarian law standards in their ongoing fight against terrorism.     “We are gratified by the recognition expressed by ministers of several Governments I met that it is impossible to win the fight against terrorists without winning the hearts and minds of the local populations.” he said.  “The lesson we have learned from counter-terrorist operations around the world is that if security forces commit serious human rights violations against civilians, the net result is to create more terrorists than there were before”.      Gilmour met with national authorities, leaders of the security forces, and civil society actors in Nouakchott, Dakar, Ouagadougou and Niamey, where he attended a conference of five Sahel countries on strengthening the links between security, justice and development in the region, especially in the context of their regional peace operation known as the Force Conjointe – G5 Sahel.     Those countries - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger - have adopted a framework of measures, with the strong support of the European Union, to ensure compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law standards in their fight against terrorism.     “It is critical that these governments, their national armies and other relevant security actors accelerate efforts to effectively implement the measures required by this important compliance framework,” Gilmour said. He recognised that implementing the measures of the framework is a highly demanding endeavour that requires strong political will on the part of the governments of the five countries, demonstrable actions by their security forces, and generous support from the international community.     Gilmour underlined the UN Human Rights Office’s strong commitment to continue to support the implementation of the compliance framework.     The Assistant Secretary-General expressed concern about the growing number and activities of private militias based on ethnicity.  “If not urgently tackled by national authorities, including by prosecuting any crimes committed by such militias, there is a distinct danger they may push the sub-region into an endless cycle of violence, attacks, reprisals and counter-reprisals,” he warned."  But when Gilmour and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet were set to speak in the UN on human rights day on 10 December 2018, Inner City Press was invited but when it showed it, it was barred from entry as it asks questions about the UN's decaying record under Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Gilmour was asked about this censorship, and did nothing. Now he tweets about human rights in Burkina Faso - with what credibility? On the sidewalk in front of the UN he has said he feels bad for Inner City Press. If he cannot stand up to censorship right in the UN, what could or would he do in Burkina Faso? Inner City Press responded to an invitation and was told, "Thank you for registering to attend the Human Rights Day event at the United Nations on Monday 10 December. On Monday, please come to the UN Visitors’ Gate on First Avenue opposite 45th street starting at 2pm, at which time entry passes will be distributed."

Then, past six p.m. on Friday, December 7 this from Bachelet's and Gilmour's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: "Dear Matthew, We have received notification from UN Security that your name was flagged as "BARRED" on the list we submitted for passes for Monday's event (3pm, ECOSOC Chamber). We will therefore not have a pass for you and are unable to facilitate entry.
Thank you for your interest and best regards,
OHCHR New York Office."

   Inner City Press immediately wrote back, to the sender and Bachelet and her assistant, to Andrew Gilmour and to the moderator of the event, "Particularly since you are the UN Office of the High Commissioner for *Human Rights,* did you not ask why a journalist who asks the Secretary General and his spokesmen about the killings in Cameroon, Burundi, UN corruption, UN peacekeepers' sexual abuse of civilians, and Sri Lanka, is “BARRED” from attending your human rights event - without any hearing or appeal? I will appreciate your Office's answer to this."  We'll have more on this.

 Bachelet gave a speech on October 15 in the UN's Third Committee, she emphasized a prioritization of social and economic rights and said one of the officials of her office is "on mission in Silicon Valley" in the US. There are questions about this - but Inner City Press which has covered human rights and the UN for more than a decade was for the first time banned from access a High Commissioner's speech. This has been raised repeated to Bachelet since she took office but she has so far done nothing, not even responded. Meanwhile on October 12 Cameroon, from whose Paul Biya Secretary General Antonio Guterres took a golden statue and favors in the Fifth (Budget) Committee and remains silent on the slaughter of Anglophones, was elected to a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. This system is failing - but if Bachelet cannot even answer on Guterres maintaining a secret banned list including not only Inner City Press but also "political activists," then the UN has hit a new low.

   Inner City Press was never given a hearing by Smale before her August 17 letter with withdrew Inner City Press media accreditation. Nothing in it said anything about a ban from entering the UN as a person, a tourist, or in another other way. But this is what happened, without any recourse. Pure Kafka-esque censorship, by a former New York Times Berlin bureau chief to hinder coverage of the corruption of the former Portuguese prime minster Antonio Guterres, see September 23 New York Post here. What next? Watch this site.


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