Ban Criticized on Press Freedom, UN Again Denies Getting Petition on
Journalist in Sri Lanka
February 15 -- Two weeks after the UN acknowledged
petition about a journalist's disappearance was transmitted to New
York by its office in Sri Lanka, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky on
Tuesday claimed “we here did not receive a petition yet. If there
is such a petition.. we haven't seen it yet.” Video here.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is accused of not doing enough for
press freedom, by the Committee to Protect Journalists and others. On
February 15, CPJ's Bob Dietz told the Press that the UN has done
“nothing” on the case of Lanka e-News journalist Prageeth
Eknelygoda, whose wife has petitioned for Ban's involvement through
the UN in Sri Lanka.
Press then asked Ban's
spokesman Martin Nesirky to respond, he
claimed for the second time in two weeks that the UN had not yet
received the petition. There is a problem: after Inner City Press
this answer on January 31, the UN in Sri Lanka publicly confirmed it
had received the petition. How could it not yet have reached New
January 31, as
transcribed by the UN itself, Inner City Press asked
Press: recently there is a burning down of a publication, Lanka
eNews, and various people said this is a crackdown on freedom of
speech. There is also a petition that was delivered, I believe, to
Mr. [Neil] Buhne in Colombo, seeking UN help to look into the case of
a disappeared journalist for a year, Prageeth Ekneligoda, and I am
wondering, that one has been sort of pending for a while, is there
some… What is the UN’s response to what seems to many to be a
crackdown or certainly increase of danger for journalists in Sri
Well, both of those, again, are questions that you sent by
e-mail and should we have anything further, then we’ll let you
know. But what I can tell you, the key point is that, freedom of the
media is vital and journalists should be able to carry out their work
without fear of attack or being harassed to do the work that they
need to do.
Press On this petition [about] Prageeth, turned in by his wife,
has it yet been confirmed that it was received by the UN in Colombo,
and what happens with such petitions for UN assistance?
Look, we checked. We’re not aware of a petition having been
handed in. We’ll check again, but the latest that I had was that
we are not aware of a petition having been handed in.
no correction being provided to Inner City Press by Nesirky or anyone
else in the UN, the UN in Colombo told a publication there that
letter addressed to the Secretary General has been received by the
Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne and is being forwarded to the
Secretary Generals office,” the UN office in Colombo told the Daily
Mirror. The UN in New York revealed earlier that it was unaware of
the petition handed over by Sandya Eknaligoda on January 24. “We’re
not aware of a petition having been handed in”, Spokesperson for
the Secretary-General Martin Nesirky had told a press briefing.
1 Nesirky's acting deputy Farhan Haq said at the UN noon
some answers to questions that were asked at yesterday’s Noon
Briefing.We were asked about a letter concerning the treatment of a
Sri Lankan journalist. I can confirm that we have now received the
letter to the Secretary-General, which was transmitted to New York by
the UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo. It was also channelled to
colleagues in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The
letter is now being reviewed.
after Haq said publicly that the letter “was transmitted to New
York by the UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo” and “ is now
being reviewed,” Ban's spokesman Nesirky again denied that the
petitioning letter was ever received. Video here.
asked, what has Ban or the UN done about the petition about Prageeth?
that the UN is not just the Secretary General and that would check
with UNESCO. He then said, “As I mentioned, we here did not receive
a petition yet. If there is such a petition... we haven't seen it
yet.” Video here.
UN's Ban & Nesirky in 2011: receipt of petitions
denied questions limited
the rest of his
noon briefing, Nesirky parried and dodged questions about criticism
of Ban's lack of action on press freedom. Nesirky said, among other
things, the Ban is “well briefed” on such issues, “not least by
even aware what his own deputy said about a petition about a
disappeared journalist, and instead insisted that the petition was
not received. Some briefing.
February 15 UN noon briefing ended with Nesirky telling Inner
City Press he would take only one more question. Inner City Press
said it had more than one question, but Nesirky insisted, only one
(which he did not answer either). Video here,
Already pending for weeks in his
office are questions about how Ban spoke with before claiming his
panel could travel to Sri Lanka and praising President Mahinda
Rajapaksa's “flexibility.” Further back, Nesirky simply refused
to answer, or even pass along, questions about Ban's contacts with
Rajapaksa, and the time of Ban's son in law in Sri Lanka. Watch this
* * *
Lanka Media Is Burned Down, UN “Is Not Aware” of Petition
about Disappeared Journalist, Silent for 1 Week
31 -- As in Sri Lanka the office of Lanka-e-News was
burned down and the UN had no comment, nor would the UN on January 31
even confirm receipt of a petition from the wife of journalist
Prageeth Eknaligoda, disappeared on January 24, 2010.
year after the
disappearance, January 24, 2011 Inner City Press asked UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon's spoksman Martin Nesirky
is the UN's response to
a Sri Lankan journalist believed to have been abducted a year
ago has urged the United Nations to help trace him, saying she
believed the government was complicit in the crime. Prageeth
Ekneligoda was critical of the government's conduct during its civil
war with the Tamil Tiger rebels, who fought for 25 years for an
independent homeland. Prageeth's wife, Sandya, handed a letter to the
world body's office in Colombo on Monday that accused the government
of having no interest in finding her husband.'
help? Does the UN have any response to this case, or the other
unresolved attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka, including those Ban
commented on but some say did not follow up on?”
week, Ban's spokesperson's office refused to even confirm receipt of
the question, which Inner City Press re-submitted each day. On the
morning of January 31, Inner City Press asked:
is the UN's comment and action on this
- 'the arson attack on Lanka-e-News
office located in Malabe, Colombo district... Benet Rupasinghe, news
editor of lankaenews.com, said his office was set on fire at around
2.00 a.m. by a group of unidentified persons who destroyed everything
in the office...“It is not in a possible state to continue website
operations,” he said. Last week priests and journalists appealed to
the United Nations to find Prageeth Ekneligoda, a Lanka-e-News
journalist who disappeared on Jan. 24 last year.'
confirmation of receipt, and response to, this petition
to the UN about the case of disappeared Prageeth Ekneligoda.”
answer or confirmation of receipt, Inner City Press asked the
questions in person at the January 31 UN noon briefing. Ban's
spokesman Martin Nesirky said “both are questions you sent by
email.” Yes -- but they were never answered or even acknowledged.
month Nesirky ended a briefing (on January 21) by saying
it would only take questions from Inner City Press if it “acted
appropriately” -- apparently meaning, no questions about compliance
with UN rules. Nor about Sri Lanka?
One year after Prageeth was disappeared, UN not shown
Nesirky said he would see if there's anything further on the burning
down of Lanka-e-News, that freedom of the media is vital, and that
“we're not aware of a petition being handed in.”
petition was reported
Columbo, in the Canadian
Press and elsewhere. Major
press freedom organizations have spoken of it, just as another
belatedly prepares to speak out on the burning of Lanka -e-News. So
the UN under Ban Ki-moon is not aware of it? Watch this site.
* * *
by Sri Lanka, Is Not Asked
About Ban's Claims: No More
after moving to refuse to
Press questions about Sri Lanka, has decided to publicly
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Accountability Panel is no longer
slated to travel to Sri Lanka.
As Inner City Press reported on January 18, this is contrary to
Ban's December 17 praise of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's "flexibility"
in allowing the visit, and to Ban's January 14 answer to Inner City
Press. But the UN does not want to explain, or even be asked about,
these accumulating discrepancies.
On January 18,
insiders who insisted they not
be named because if so they would be fired or further marginalized,
Inner City Press reported
late on January 17 told Inner City Press that despite Ban's
statement, his Panel will now probably NOT visit the Island. Despite
Ban's December 17 announcement praising President Mahinda Rajapaksa's
'flexibility,' since then Rajapaksa's government has written to the
UN to say not only that the Panel should not come, but that neither
the government nor its Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Panel will
speak with the UN Panel of Experts. It is expected now that
representatives of the Rajapaksa government will, in New York only,
speak with Ban Ki-moon's Office, not his Panel.”
news, Inner City Press publicly
it at the January 18 UN noon briefing:
go to Sri Lanka. That in fact
letters have been exchanged and that a letter from Sri Lanka says
that there’s no intention to speak to the Panel.
you is that Ms. Bragg’s visit it obviously a
humanitarian visit. It is not related to work of the Panel. It is
not. And I think that’s quite clear.
she do with it, as a humanitarian
about what caused the need to return?
... there’s some question about
the visas for an accountability purpose, what the relation of this
visa would be…
are not connected. This is clearly a
humanitarian matter. Last question.
out, making that the “last
next day on
January 19, Nesirky twice cut off Inner City Press from asking
questions at the UN noon briefing, claiming he would answer questions
put to him in writing.
Press posed a number of Sri Lanka
questions about the visas and Ban Ki-moon, none of which Mr. Nesirky
Nesirky walked out of the briefing room while Inner City Press was
still posing questions about the white flag killings in connection
article including the role of Ban's chief of staff Vijay
Nambiar, who has said he got assurances from Sri Lanka Permanent
Representative Palitha Kohona that those with white flags would not
of a reply from Mr. Nambiar, which has yet
to be provided.
City Press at the noon briefing that
“I will take questions from you when you behave in an appropriate
manner,” and refused to take any more of questions Inner City Press
had prepared, including Sri Lanka and Ban's statements about his
Panel. Colloquially, this "sucked,"
wrote about it.
in what is still labeled an “exclusive,” FP ran this quote:
Sri Lankan mission had initially indicated they would be amenable to
the panel meeting with it to make whatever representations it may
wish to make, but it seems now that such a visit has still not been
decided,' said a senior U.N. official. 'I am not sure if this is a
simple matter of the Sri Lankan side prevaricating. The panel is
nevertheless open and keen on any appropriate interaction with the
LLC. The Sri Lankans have sought to keep their interaction through
the secretariat, specifically the EOSG [the executive office of the
secretary general],' the official said. 'We have, however, been
asking them and the panel to deal with each other directly and shall
continue to do so.'”
not only Ban's Spokesperson's Office, operates.
still unanswered, but repeatedly asked by Inner City Press publicly
in the noon briefings at which Nesirky on January 21 said he will
take no more questions from Inner City Press, is why Ban Ki-moon
claimed on December 17 that his Panel would go to Sri Lanka.
that time, Ban
went out of his way to praise President Mahinda Rajapaksa's
“flexibility.” Nesirky has repeated refused to answer Inner City
Press' factual questions about Ban's, his entourage and family's
contacts with Sri Lanka and Rajapaksa.
at which Nesirky did not
take any questions from Inner City Press, Inner City Press waited at
the entrance to the briefing room and asked Ban why his panel wasn't
going to Sri Lanka, and minutes later published
Secretary General, you said your Panel is going to Sri Lanka,”
Inner City Press asked, “what happened?”
Ki-moon replied, “They are now working very seriously on finalizing
the dates of visiting Sri Lanka.”
City Press asked about “the government has said they can only talk
to the LLRC, that they can't investigate anything.”
Ki-moon replied, “They will be able to... They are now discussing
and wrote about the letters between Sri
Lanka and the UN which contradict what Ban has said, and after
Nesirky said he will not take any more questions from Inner City
Press, a “senior UN official” issues the above-quoted, without
any reference to Ban's December 17 (and January 14) claims. Watch
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb .26 UN debate
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.