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On Yemen and Cameroon UK ICO Finds Wrongful Withholding From Inner City Press by FCO 35 Days To Comply

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 7/20, CJR, ICO ruling

UNITED NATIONS GATE, February 26 – As the abuses by Cameroon's security forces have been ignored by the UN, whose Secretary General Antonio Guterres has UN Budget Committee deals with Paul Biya and a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman who is bombing Yemen, the UK Mission to the UN withheld information on both countries from Inner City Press. This while UK USG Alison Smale imposed an ongoing ban on Inner City Press even entering the UN, now at 237 days.

Inner City Press appealed the withholding of documents by the UK Mission to the UK Information Commissioner's Office which has today issued a ruling: "the Commissioner has concluded that section 21 does not apply and furthermore that the FCO breached section 17(3) of FOIA by failing to conclude its public interest considerations within a reasonable timeframe. 2. The Commissioner requires the public authority to take the following steps to ensure compliance with the legislation. Provide the complainant with a copy of the information to which it sought to withhold on the basis of section 21 of FOIA.  3. The public authority must take these steps within 35 calendar days of the date of this decision notice. Failure to comply may result in the Commissioner making written certification of this fact to the High Court pursuant to section 54 of the Act and may be dealt with as a contempt of court." Full ruling here, on Scribd.

  Inner City Press submitted the following request to the FCO on 15 August 2017: ‘This is request under the UK Freedom of Information act for the following records as that term is defined in FOI, including but not limited to all electronic records, emails, text/SMS message and communications in any form, involving the UKMission to the UN in New York since January 1, 2017 regarding Cameroon and/or Southern Cameroons, or Burundi or Western Sahara; since June 1, 2017 regarding Libya or Yemen (on which the UK holds the pen in the UN Security Council), and regarding UN reform including the UN bribery case US v. Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe, if any.
This request specifically includes all records related to briefings given by the UK Mission to the UN to members of the major international media (and any mentions of that term), as that information cannot legitimately by made public to some but not to the public. Given the situations in Yemen, Libya and South Cameroons, I and Inner City Press asked for expedited processes of this request."

After more than year the FCO and UK Mission did not provide a single document about Cameroon.
FCO has argued that its interest there is solving the Anglophone crisis - this while UK Minister Liam Fox has bragged about UK-based New Age's natural gas deal with 36 year "president" Paul Biya. What will the documents the UK FCO wrongfully withheld show? We should know in 35 days.  Inner City Press asked, without answer: "who is responsible for deciding, between 10 pm July 3 when I was assaulted by UN DSS Lt Dobbins and another UNnamed, and 10 am on July 5, that I was and am banned from entering the UN? Who participated in this decision? Your office yesterday told The Independent (UK) that “a review ha[s] been launched into the manner in which Mr Lee had been removed and his future accreditation.” How my accreditation should suffer for having been assaulted by Lt Dobbins and unnamed colleagues, for the second time in 11 days, is a mystery or worse. But please state how it is possible for DSS to investigate itself in this matter. What provisions does the UN have when abuse BY UN Security officers is alleged, and how does it impact for example their New York and other gun permits?" We'll have more on all of this. Guterres lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who will again be hand picking the questions and questioners present at noon on July 12, told another reporter on July 11 that Inner City Press' “status is being reviewed.  My understanding is that he will be having discussions with various parts of this administration, and then we'll keep you updated, and I'm sure he will keep you updated. His credentials and pass have been suspended, pending review." Video here.  Since Inner City Press alone has asked Guterres and his spokesman dozens of questions about the killings by Cameroon's government, it seems clear the goal of banning Inner City Press is to avoid those questions. What about the China Energy Fund Committee scandal of UN bribery of Presidents of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa - with whom Guterres still deals - and Vuk Jeremic? No one else asked.  When Inner City Press complained of Dujarric providing only to Al Jazeera the response of Antonio Guterres to the US leaving the UN Human Rights Council, Dujarric and the Al Jazeera trio claimed to MALU that the coverage was “too aggressive.” Journalism is not a crime? Next week, Antonio Guterres is set to give remarks, to which Inner City Press has requested the right to cover response, to the UN Correspondents Association, which not only has not acted on this censorship, but has fueled it.

  Inside the UN the Eid event continued, alongside a liquor fueled barbeque thrown by UN Security. This DSS sold tickets to non resident correspondents, and allowed in people who had nothing to do with the UN, including some seeming underage. When Inner City Press audibly raised the issue to UN Safety and Security Service chief Mick Brown, he did nothing.

   The Moroccan diplomat emerged and chided Inner City Press for even telling him of the ouster, claiming that “25% of what you write is about Morocco.” Some Periscope video here. Pakistan's Permanent Representative, who hosted the Eid event, said she would look into it. Sweden's spokesperson asked whom to call in DPI and when Inner City Press said, Alison Smale, responded, Who is Alison Smale? Indeed.

  Smale has refused to respond in any way to a 5000+ signature petition to restore Inner City Press to its unused office S-303 and to adopt content neutral media access rules going forward. That, and appropriate action on Lt. Dobbins and the others, must be among the next steps. Watch this site.


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