Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

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

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER
 More: InnerCityPro

MRL on Patreon

Home -

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


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

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

On Tanzania Inner City Press Asked UN Guterres About Abuse of Burundi Refugees and Press Guterres Supports

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR, Video, Filing

UNITED NATIONS GATE, March 3– Amid much news in Tanzania, in February 2018 Inner City Press asked the UN about the government killing of NIT university student Akwilina Anwiline and the subsequent calling in of the Chadema opposition party. After a few days of questioning the UN expressed concern and said it was watching closing. Then nothing. On March 1, banned Inner City Press asked Guterres, his deputy Amina J. Mohammed, Alison Smale and spokesman Stephane Dujarric "March 1-1: What is the SG's comment and action on NGO reports that Tanzania harasses Burundian refugees in the hope that they will return home?  March 1-3: Also on Tanzania, what is the SG's comment and action if any on that Tanzania has suspended a leading newspaper and its website for a week accusing it of falsely reporting currency exchange rates.  The action against The Citizen newspaper follows growing complaints by opposition supporters and civil society groups at what they say are moves to stifle dissent and create obstacles for journalists and rights activists?" Two days later, nothing - no answer at all, despite Smale's promise to UNSR David Kaye, and Dujarric's on camera promise. This is today's UN. In January 2019, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has urged his government's ministers to "take advantage" of refugee crises and make money by selling food to international aid organizations. Will Guterres, who claims to be for refugees (while staying silent on the refoulement of 47 from Nigeria to Cameroon), say anything about this use of his UN? Tanzania hosts / harvests around 300,000 refugees, mainly from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo, largely in three camps in the north-west of the country. Speaking in Dar es Salaam, Magufuli celebrated the signing of a contract to deliver 36,000 tons of maize to the UN World Food Program (WFP) for around $9.1 million.  "These funds are allocated to help our refugee friends from other countries in conflict, it is our duty to take advantage of them," said Magufuli in Swahili, to laughter in the room.  "We must take advantage of their problems. They fight at home and we get the money." Inner City Press in writing asked Guterres, his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed and Spokesman Stephane Dujarric who promised answers, "January 8-6: On Tanzania and refugees, what is the SG's comment and action on that Tanzanian President John Magufuli on January 4 urged his ministers to “take advantage” of refugee crises and make money by selling food to international aid organisations.  The country hosts around 300 000 refugees, mainly from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), largely in three camps in the north-west of the country, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.  Speaking in Dar es Salaam, Magufuli celebrated the signing of a contract to deliver 36 000 tons of maize to the UN World Food Program (WFP) for around $9.1 million.  “These funds are allocated to help our refugee friends from other countries in conflict, it is our duty to take advantage of them,” said Magufuli in Swahili, to laughter in the room.  “We must take advantage of their problems. They fight at home and we get the money.” But there was no answer, even five days later. Telling, the state media of China, from whose CEFC China Energy Guterres is covering up, put out this on January 13: "Tanzania on Sunday vowed to continue strengthening its relationship with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as it grants asylum to refugees from neighbouring countries.  Home Affairs Minister Kangi Lugola made the pledge when he met with UNHCR representative to Tanzania, Chansa Kapaya.  The two discussed issues related to refugees as well as how Tanzania will continue to host asylum-seekers in collaboration with the UN refugee agency and in accordance with the laws and regulations.  Lugola asserted that Tanzania will hardly succeed in accommodating refugees without the cooperation of the UN refugee agency.  "Some refugees have started to voluntarily return to Burundi hence the need to work closely with the UNHCR to ensure their safe return," Lugola said, adding that his ministry has been in regular meetings with the agency to accomplish the mission.  Kapaya commended the Tanzanian government for being supportive to the agency." Yeah. This is what Guterres' system of refugees and festering conflicts he does nothing about, in Burundi and Cameroon and elsewhere, has come to. This and Guterres' roughing up and banning of the Press which asks about it and his under-performance. On 3 July 2018 Guterres' UN Security roughed up Inner City Press and has banned it since, making the ban permanent on August 17 but with the UN's Alison Smale promising to still answer written questions. In Tanzania like at the UN things are (getting) worse.  On October 3, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesmen and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammaed: " October 3-1: On Tanzania what is the SG's and separately DSG's comment and action on the new law “which means anyone questioning the government's official statistics faces a fine and at least three years in prison”? More than six hours later, nothing - despite the on camera commitment by lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric that such written questions would be answered. We'll have more on this. On September 20 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric "September 20-1: On Tanzania, what is the SG's comment and action on that Tanzania's main opposition party on Wednesday said it would boycott the electoral process until further notice after by-elections that it said had been wrecked by "militarization" by the authorities. Freeman Mbowe, president of the Chadema party, told a press conference, 'We can no longer take part in elections of this kind. Democracy is being taken hostage'?" But six hours later, not a word of answer from Dujarric or his deputy. The UN of Antonio Guterres is corrupt. Previously: Esther Matiko, Tarime Urban Legislator, was arrested by police. Link to video here. Will the UN, as on Tanzania's threatened refoulement of refugees to Burundi, remain in silent cover up mode? The John Magufuli government moved to charge bloggers and all online news sites and streamers $924, and to face fines of $2,200 if they "cause annoyance." It's the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018, here. When Inner City Press asked the UN on April 20, it was told "different countries have different press regulations." Here now is the application form, from the Tanzania Communications Regulators Authority whose slogan is "leveling the playing field," photo here. Now in June the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) issued a directive ordering unregistered websites to comply with the country's Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations or cease publication. Those which don't register by June 15 face penalties. Jamii Forums, for only one, already suspended operations. The regulations let the government reprive online users of anonymity, requiring websites to "have in place mechanisms to identify" those who interact on their forums, and mandate that internet cafes keep user logs for up to 12 months. Additionally, the regulations allow the government to force websites to take down "prohibited" content, broadly defined to include material that "causes annoyance." At today's UN of Antonio Guterres and his Global Communicator Alison Smale, they don't charge money - they just, for online journalism that causes annoyance, throw the journalist in the street (audio here), throw its laptop on the ground, and award its work space to a state media (in this case, Egypt's Akhbar al Yom, former UN Correspondents Association president Sanaa Youssef) who never asks questions and rarely comes in. Back on April 20, Inner City Press asked SG Antonio Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about it. UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I've been wanting to ask you this this week.  [The United Republic of] Tanzania has announced that, going forward, they've enacted a new law on electronic communications that to establish a blog in Tanzania, you must pay the Government $930, and that if the blog is found to be annoying to Government officials, people can be fined $2,200.  I guess my question is… there is a country team there.  What do they think of a law that… that… that places these type of high costs and restrictions on the freedom of expression?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, different countries have different press regulations.  This would be a case where it would be up to our human rights counterparts in Geneva to study what the existing regulations are and to determine whether they're fair or not.  Have a good weekend, everyone." The UN knows all about trying to silence the press. Back on March 27 Inner City Press asked again, about a new development - the detention of Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe and others - and the UN spokesman Farhan Haq repeated the same old statement, not updated, claiming to be watching closely. Video here. From the UN's transcript: Inner City Press: in [United Republic of] Tanzania, the… the national Chairman of the main opposition party has been arrested by the Government.  And I know that, in the past, maybe it was you or Stéphane — I can't remember — has had some statements on Tanzania.  Does… what does the UN think of this locking up the main opposition figure?

Spokesman:  I believe we've… yes, I think we have expressed our concerns about this some time back.  I would just refer you…

Inner City Press:  I think this arrest is pretty new, not to…

Spokesman:  Yes, but we've… but we had a wider concern about the situation that we expressed at the time, which I'm trying to find here.  Oh, yes.  We are following closely developments in Tanzania, and we would call on the authorities there to respect freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly." Following? Inner City Press on February 20 at the UN noon briefing put a question about it to the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who spo a lot about preventative diplomacy. But the spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said only, "I had not seen those reports. I'll have to look into it and get back to you." Video here. Now on February 27, Inner City Press asked again, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I hope this question has been asked.  In [United Republic of] Tanzania, an opposition parliamentarian, Mr. [Joseph] Mbilinyi, has been sentenced to five months in prison for defaming President [John] Magufuli.  And I know that you'd said back on 22 February that the UN is calling for freedom of expression.  Do you view the jailing of parliamentarians for being critical of the President as consistent with that? Spokesman:  "I don't have the details of that particular case, but, clearly, people should have the freedom to express themselves in speaking about anything, including their political leaders." the UN is like a broken record that does nothing (except protect itself with immunity and censorship). Inner City Press asked Dujarric again at the February 21 UN briefing, video here (at end), UN transcript here: Inner City Press: You said yesterday that you were unaware of this killing of the university student and the subsequent calling in of opposition parties and sort of blaming them for what… and I guess I just wanted to know, there… there are many groups in… in [United Republic of] Tanzania they're saying things are getting increasingly repressive.  What is the UN's position on this? Spokesman:  I don't have any language on Tanzania at this point." The next day, without Dujarric or Guterres releasing anything, Inner City Press asked again, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  I want to ask you again about Tanzania and then about Guinea.  But in… you'd said yesterday that you had no language.  Do you… is that looking down… Spokesman:  I do have something… Inner City Press: Ah, language emerges. Spokesman:  Language has emerged on Tanzania.  And I can tell you that we're following closely developments in Tanzania, including the sad news of recent deaths of a local leader in Chadema, the main Tanzania opposition party, and of a university student who was travelling in a bus nearby a march by members of Chadema as they were being dispersed by the police.  First, we would like to express our condolences to the families of the deceased and call on authorities to respect freedom of expression and the right of peaceful assembly." So they wouldn't have released even this unless asked again. Fear of being declared persona non grata again, failure of commitment. This too: it seems obvious that journalists should not be serving up the "delicacies" of those they purport to be covering. But at the UN, as with content neutral accreditation and access rules, that is thrown out the window. This month the UN Correspondents Association is partnering with Kazakhstan, whose new media law is called repressive and draconian, to distribute "national delicacies" every Tuesday and Thursday. Photo here. On January 5, Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I actually have a different kind of press freedom question.  I wanted to ask you.  In [the United Republic of] Tanzania, the Government has fined a number of TV stations for simply reporting on a report by the legal Human Rights Centre about irregularities in an election and human rights abuses, and I'm wondering.  I know it's one of the countries where the UN has a, you know, a country team, et cetera.  Is the UN aware of that?  Do they have any comment on the open fining of stations simply for… for reporting on human rights issues? Deputy Spokesman:  "I don't have anything in particular on this, but we'll ask with our country team about that." Seven hours later, nothing. And no response from the UN Department of Public Information, whose chief Alison Smale was asked the simplest of questions. No answer, even as she suddenly promotes Kazakhstan stories. More on this to follow.

It's that Kazakhstan is president of the Security Council this month, and UNCA is selling the correspondents it charges a hundred dollars to access, or the illusion of access, however it might appear. In November it was espresso served up by Italy, the country of UNCA's long time landlord president Giampaolo Pioli. Now, it's Kazakhstan. A new and peculiarly UN tradition, of sycophantry, is born. And the Free UN Coalition for Access opposes it. We are certainly open to hearing from the Kazazh Mission its side of the story. How lawless, some even say racist, is today's UN and its Department of Public Information? Kiswahili jobs and funds that the General Assembly specified to DPI must be returned and retained are nevertheless being eliminated or "stolen," DPI whistleblowers have complained to Inner City Press. DPI chief Alison Smale has refused to answer Press questions; after Inner City Press published the story it was discussed in the UN African Group meeting, and is the subject of a note verbale complaint this week. This goes to the top: Smale in November 2017 to the UN Communication Group insisted that everything must go digital. (Inner City Press is publishing the leaked 12-page minutes here.) On January 26, Secretary General Antonio Guterrs' Youth Envoy said that Guterres personally told her the UN is too analog and must go digital. Video here. Now, despite the General Assembly specifically ordering the the funds allocated for Kiswahili Radio be restored to that use, Smale's (and ultimately Guterres' DPI has refused, the staff now ostensibly free to speak to the press say. Inner City Press asked again, having received no response at all from Smale, on January 29. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: the budget resolution that was passed says that resources for Kiswahili radio in particular should be reallocated back to where they were supposed to be.  My understanding is that this was raised now in the Africa group, and there's a note verbale coming to him.  Is it DPI's [Department of Public Information] position that they complied with that resolution that…? Deputy Spokesman:  Yes.  We've checked with our DPI colleagues.  Yes, they have complied with the resolution.  There's a certain amount of detail about how they provide Kiswahili and Portuguese services, but the bottom line is, yes, they have been working with Member States and working within the framework of the resolution.
Inner City Press: Are there Kiswahili-speaking staffers that are being let go 1 February and losing their visa and returning to Tanzania? Deputy Spokesman:  I believe that there was one case of someone who had… actually whose contract had ended at the end of last year and then got a one-month extension, in other words for the month of January, and that has now ended.  So, that is a case where the previous contract simply had gone to its limit. Inner City Press: But, is that post actually being filled?  My understanding is that it's not, that you're basically going to have one of the few Kiswahili things empty. Deputy Spokesman:  DPI is trying to fulfil all of the language functions within the range of the number of posts it has and the budget it has.  And with that, Brenden, come on up." The word used by whistleblowers is "fired." Then, from the PGA Spokesman's summary: "The Spokesperson was asked what would happen if there was disagreement over whether the Secretariat was fulfilling mandates outlined in the United Nations’ recently adopted budget – and whether there was a role for the President in that regard. The Spokesperson replied that it was up to the Secretary-General to provide periodic performance reports, which would focus on financial aspects, to the General Assembly. When the reporter referred to a specific budget line that referred to posts in the Department of Public Information, the Spokesperson responded that it would be premature to comment on whether this line was being complied with; he added that it would not be up to the President to weigh in on such a specific staffing matter within the Secretariat. Asked when exactly the Secretariat would report on its compliance with the budget that had been adopted by the General Assembly in December 2017, the Spokesperson later added that the first performance report would be expected at the end of 2018, and the second by the end of 2019." Inner City Press replied: "the issue of whether Para 167 of the UNGA budget resolution is being violated, as whistleblowing staff have said, will not be resolved by this schedule of reporting." The results is not only the loss of employment and US visas for Africans, but they say a steep decline in the provision of information in Kiswahili. One account which was "merged into" DPI's non-Africa specific account had a drop off in followers from 255,000 to 90,000. But, the sources say, Under Secretary General Alison Smale's DPI has misled Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who Smale so often cites for her anti-staff moves, telling him the overall account is up to 3 million. "It's a fraud," one source said. "And it's a real 'sh*ithole' disrespect to Kenya and Tanzania and countries like it, by the UN." Others have noted the irony, as Guterres flew off to the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, avoiding Donald Trump in Davos. Inner City Press has sought a response, including to the below, directly from Alison Smale, the former NYT Berlin editor who previously ignored detailed written questions in September 2017 when she arrived to take over DPI as Guterres' "Global Communicator." In November, according to the UNCG minutes, she said among other things "We need to make sure we are set up with our platforms and our resources to take advantage of the rapidly evolving ways in which the global public, and particularly the young, are consuming information. This means more social media." Then the Kiswahili radio resources were shifted, despite the GA resolution, to social media. Inner City Press asked Smale, "beyond the questions asked to date in the UN noon briefings, I would like you to explain DPI's compliance with the most recent budget resolution's Paragraph 167, to explain what has happened to the Kiswahili (and Portuguese) posts, and more generally to state what you are doing about the complaints raised to Inner City Press by DPI staff," below. The cited Paragraph 167, adopted by the UN Fifth (Budget) Committee at 2 am on Christmas Eve with Inner City Press the only media bothering to cover it, but still restricted, reads: "167. Requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the two posts from the Kiswahili Radio Unit and the two posts from the Portuguese Radio Unit are deployed for the purposes originally approved." The UN Secretariat reportedly tried to get the paragraph out, first by negotiation and then by stealth; now DPI officials are said to refer to it as "bullsh*t," another "sh*thole" echo. January 25, with no response as before from Smale, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: in the 2 a.m.  Christmas Eve budget resolution, there was a paragraph that remained in.  There was some contention about it, and I think the Secretariat tried to have it removed, but Member States wanted it in.  And it said, request the Secretary-General to ensure the two posts from Kiswahili radio unit and two posts from the Portuguese radio unit are deployed for the purposes originally approved.  And having reported at the time, the Member States were concerned that these resources had been shifted to non Kiswahili or Portuguese social media.  And I learned from whistleblowers, those affected, who believe they can now speak to the press freely, as you've said from this podium, that, in fact, the posts have not been returned and that the approach of the Department of Public Information (DPI), who I've also written to before you say that, they've been very dismissive of… of this General Assembly resolution.  And, in fact, I've heard that the Facebook page of… of the Kiswahili — they get very specific about it — has declined in followers from 255,000 to 90,000.  So, the feeling is that this is a disrespect for the language of a region that the Secretary-General is about to visit.  And I wonder if you can get an answer of whether this has been complied with and why people from that unit are being let go 1 February. Spokesman:  Okay.  I can't speak to a specific case of people being let go.  I don't know if that's true or not true.  I'm not going to start talking about people's employment without knowing more.  What I do know is that we have full respect for the General Assembly resolution, for the budget that was passed.  And, of course, it is the responsibility of the Secretariat to implement those resolutions.  So, that's not a… that's just a statement of fact.  The work that the Kiswahili unit does, that other language units does, whether it's Portuguese or any of the six languages, is extremely important in our efforts to do… to communicate in as many languages as possible.  Whether it's communicating through radio, through web, through social media, that is a very important… it goes at the heart of how we try to work and how we try to communicate.  And we have to be able to communicate in not only different languages but through many different media, whether so-called traditional or so-called new media.  And the Department of Public Information will continue to do that with, of course, the respect of the… that they have to follow in terms of the General Assembly resolutions. Inner City Press: That's a direct quote from the resolution.  It says, ensure that they are done as originally approved.  So, clearly there was a feeling that it wasn't taking place.  Since then… What's the status? Spokesman:  I feel I've answered the question.  I feel I've answered that question.  Okay.  Thank you." No thanks.  Questions have also been raised separately to Guterres and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed. We'll have more on this, and on Guterres' UN's inaction on Cameroon and Tanzania, and mis-steps in Kenya, the undisclosed sending of Obasanjo and Fore's UNICEF's strange youth empowerment move, Inner City Press' coverage of which was picked up by the Star and Standard.


Feedback: Editorial [at]

Past (and future?) UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA
For now: Box 20047, Dag Hammarskjold Station NY NY 10017

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 2006-2019 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for