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On Cameroon Inner City Press Asked UK About UNSC Arria Now FCO Tries To Limit FOIA

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video

UNITED NATIONS GATE, May 16 – The UK which bragged about its New Age hydro carbons deal with Paul Biya's Cameroon now has refused to answer basic Press questions about Cameroon, even about a UN Security Council Arria meeting which it is co sponsoring. So Inner City Press again submitted a Freedom of Information request to the UK FCO, below.

   The FCO, which previously delayed months, again seeks to limit the request: "Dear Mr Lee,   Thank you for your email to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).In order for us assist you with your request and best direct any search please could you clarify the scope of your request. As currently drafted your request is too broad and we may be unable to proceed with it.     To help us understand the information you are seeking please could you provide further detail clearly outlining the subject/documents you would like us to search for.  We would recommend in the first instance refining your request to information relating to Cameroon or Yemen  Once we receive your revised request we will consider it and the appropriate course of action.     Yours sincerely     Central FOI Unit  Foreign and Commonwealth Office."

 Inner City Press on May 16 replied: "   Hello. I believe that the FOIA request should be clear if you consider ICO Reference FS50771047 of 26 February of this year.  In that case, ocassioned by the UK Mission to the UN's refusal to answer simple written questions, the FCO first pressured Inner City Press to limit its request, then took months and months and over-withheld information.    Amazingly, the UK Mission even after that decision has refused to provide any answers, or even to acknowledge, written questions from Inner City Press. Hence, this request, not only on Cameroon and Yemen, but also on what seems to be the basis for the Mission not answer: British UN USG Alison Smale's no due process decision to bar Inner City Press from the UN. Since it would appear that the UK will be seeking that USG position, or another, this request includes that, as well as UK USG Mark Lowcock, who has refused to make UN public financial disclosure.    This need not and must not take months and months as before. The UK Mission was a co-sponsor of the UNSC meeting on Cameroon I asked them about on May 6. The refusal to answer is, in context, both disturbing and telling.    Please begin to assemble and to send in increments as they become available the responsive documents. If you persist, despite this context, in trying to limit the request, specify the basis and reasons why with an eye / cc to the ICO. Time is of the essence." Watch this site.
  After Paul Biya who has ruled Cameroon for 36 years on January 28 had his opponent Maurice Kamto arrested, Inner City Press again asked
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his spokesmen for their comment and action, if any. This came after Guterres had Inner City Press roughed up on 3 July 2018 after it interviewed Biya's Ambassador about the two men's Budget Committee deals and banned from the UN since - Guterres even tried to get Inner City Press banned from the Park East Synagogue, here, which was denied / dodged by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who put up then took down a podcast in which he brags about his "mutually assured destruction" relationship with journalists, here. After whispers from the UN Security Council about a belated UNSC meeting on May 13, early on the morning of May 6 Inner City Press submitted written questions, this one to the UK Mission to the UN which previously withheld all Cameroon documents in response to a request under the UK FOIA: "Press Q re Cameroon, any UNSC meeting, UK's Mission's position on that and continued banning of Inner City Press from entering UN - To Stephen Hickey, mission, Jaclyn Licht, Amy Quantrill, others: this is a Press request to the UK Mission as a member of the UN Security Council to be informed this morning of your Mission's knowledge of any upcoming UNSC meeting about Cameroon of any kind, including Any Other Business informal consultations, whether May 13 or any other date. Inner City Press wrote to the UK Mission about this previously, including in August 2018, and pursued its FOIA request to the ICO.     Also, what is the UK's position on the situation there and what will / would it seek to accomplish at any UNSC meeting (and if there is no meeting, why not). Relatedly, please explain how it is legitimate for the UN to bar entry to Inner City Press after ousting it while it covered the 3 July 2018 Fifth (Budget) Committee then chaired by Cameroon, and asked about this situation and other under-performance by the UN. Inner City Press' most recent application for re-accreditation to enter and cover the UNSC stakeout, submitted on 15 April 2019, was denied without explanation on April 17. ("Greetings Matthew LEE from ICP     INNER CITY PRESS,  Your media accreditation request, with reference no: M66561081, has been declined.") What has your Mission does, or what will it do, about this?" Five full days later, including after a UN noon briefing in which the first questioner ask about the UK royal baby, no answer at all.

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