UK Under Performance at UN on Cameroon and Censorship Worse Than UNA-UK Report Says

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UK Under Performance at UN on Cameroon and Censorship Worse Than UNA-UK Report Says

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Letter PFTracker

UNITED NATIONS GATE, February 19 – The UK's role in the UN and international affairs is even worse than presented today by the group UNA-UK. They choose three "case studies" -- Somalia, ICJ and Chagos Islands -- while leaving out the UK's shameful performance on Cameroon, the former British Southern Cameroons. As 86 year old Paul Biya ordered the slaughter of Anglophone civilians there, UK minister Liam Fox bragged about a gas deal with Biya by UK-based New Age.

The UK never convened, and in fact is said to have blocked, any Security Council meeting devoted to the crisis in Cameroon. This omission by UNA-UK is all the more surprising because Liam Fox' ghoulish bragging about the New Age deal was explicitly tied to Brexit, the idea that UK firms can still cut deals with dictators if the UK is not a part of the EU (which cuts its own deal, for example with Morocco for Western Sahara's fish). Additionally, UNA-UK had declined to do or say anything about censorship of the Press which raises these issues by British USG Alison Smale.

One positive from the report, online here, is the acknowledgment "the UK’s lost vote on the Chagos Islands must not be viewed purely as a measure of global influence, but also in relation to the substantive issues arising over these previous violations of rights. The UK should also consider the further reputational damage caused by its decision." The same and more, of course, applies to the UK and the former British Southern Cameroons. But the word "Cameroon" does not appear even once in the UNA-UK report. As with as least perfuctory push back against Guterres and Smale's censorship, maybe next year.  As the Cameroon government of 36 year President Paul Biya slaughters civilians in the Anglophone regions as well as in the North, it has re-engaged Washington lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs, on a retainer of $100,000 per quarter plus expenses, documents show. The UN belatedly acknowledged to Inner City Press, which UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had roughed up on July 3 right after it spoke to Cameroon's Ambassador Tommo Monthe and on which he and UK USG Alison Smale imposed a lifetime ban on August 17 profiled in Press Freedom Tracker US here, that Guterres met with a Cameroon delegation on July 11. Guterres' spokesmen have repeatedly refused to answer Inner City Press e-mailed question whether Guterres was aware his meeting was stage managed by lobbyists at Patton Boggs, and what was discussed. Inner City Press  asked the same and more to the UK Mission to the UN, president of the UN Security Council for August, in writing (below) and verbally. The UK Mission has yet to answer those questions, or even acknowledge Inner City Press' written questions about Yemen (where UK bombs kill children) and Western Sahara. But on August 29 they were very quick to proudly support the Press censorship order of their compatriot Alison Smale. Now this has been raised, as a case of first impression to the UK Information Commissioner's Office as retaliation, background here: "Dear Mr. Slee -- I don't want to slow down your work, which has ben too long in coming. I simply want to make you aware of two points: 1) beyond the withheld or redacted documents you will be reviewing in camera, be aware that FCO after after a full year, and after Inner City Press voluntarily (or under information coersion) limited its request to Cameroon and Yemen, has not to provide a single document about Cameroon. This while UK Mission to the UN Ambassadors Matthew Rycroft (now at DFID), Karen Pierce and Jonathan Allen repeatedly assured Inner City Press, including on camera, that the UK was constantly reviewing the situation in Cameroon's Anglophone areas. You must obtain, review and I believe release these responsive documents on Cameroon.
2) Most troublingly, during the pendency of this review, not only was Inner City Press ousted and banned from the UN - Inner City Press is informed that the UN is telling people that the UK Mission supported or even requested this roughing up and banning.
I hereby assert or allege, perhaps as a case of first impression for the ICO, that the UK Mission has engaged in impermissible retaliation against Inner City Press and myself for, among other things, asserting our rights under UK FOIA.
This is a formal request that as an inseparately part of ICO's mandate you inquire into and acting on this now alleged retaliation.
Please confirm receipt, and advise on your next steps on these two." We'll have more on this. Inner City Press wrote to Ambassador Pierce, and verbally notified her deputy Jonathan Allen, that Smale allowed no due process or appeal. This quickly came back, from Matt Moody Spokesperson @UKUN_NewYork: "Dear Matthew, I am replying on behalf of Ambassador Karen Pierce to your email to her of 29 August. As you note in your email, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications wrote to you on 17 August setting out why the Department of Public Information has withdrawn your media accreditation. Media accreditation to the United Nations is a matter for the Department of Public Information. We refer you to them." This would mean no oversight of the UN. So Inner City Press wrote to London - and on September 10 received this shameful cover up answer in response: "Dear Mr. Lee, Thank you for your emails of 26 August to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Ministers Harriett Baldwin MP and Alistair Burt MP.  I have been asked to reply as Head of the UN Political Team.  I note that the United Kingdom’s Mission to the United Nations in New York replied to a similar email from you on 29 August, regarding the question of your accreditation to the United Nations. Media accreditation to the United Nations is a matter for the UN’s Department of Public Information. We refer you to them. Yours sincerely, Justin Bedford, UN Political Team, Foreign & Commonwealth Office." What makes this buck - (or Pound-) passing all the worse is that now Inner City Press has learned that UN is telling people the UK has supported and even asked for its banning of Inner City Press. Inner City Press has immediately replied to these MPs, "Dear Mr. Bedford, MPs Baldwin and Burt - Thank you for your response but it is woefully inadequate. First, it would mean that the UK performs no oversight over the UN. Would you refer a question about abuses by UN Peacekeepers to USG Lacroix, without more? This is particularly inappropriate when the USG in question, Alison Smale, is a UK national, as was the ASG who oversaw my physical ouster on 3 July 2018, Christian Saunders. But to make it clear: my question, now and with this request, is about the UK Mission's role in my banning from the UN. I am informed that the UN Secretariat is telling people that the UK Mission supports and even has requested my banning. So I am asking if that is true, appropriate and consistent with FCO's and even the PM's public statements including about freedom of the press. I note Inner City Press' petition to the ICO because the FCO did not provide even on document to Inner City Press about Cameroon, even a year after its FOIA request. Something is going wrong, including at the UK Mission to the UN. Isn't it the MPs' job to look into it? Awaiting your response." Watch this site. If someone raised to the UK Mission or FCO rapes by UN Peacekeepers, would they refer the matter to USG of Peacekeeping Jean Pierre Lacroix? Or is this deference to the obviously no due process censorship order of Smale because she is British? Or because the UK supports, benefits from and seemingly even called for this censorship of the Press? What about the British Assistant Secretary General who oversaw the roughing up on July 3, Christian Saunders, previously implicated in UN procurement corruption - was the UK Mission fine with that? With Justin Forsyth at UNICEF and before? The UK Mission's / Ambassador Pierce's response seems to show that there is no oversight of the UN by the UK, at least when a British official is the wrong-doers, or if the UK Mission (thinks it) benefits. Follow up questions have been sent to the UK Mission and Ambassador Pierce, including "Please describe your and the Mission's communications with British USG Smale this year, including prior to her/the directive to DSS Lt Dobbins to begin physically targeting me any time after 7 pm, even if there was a Budget Committee meeting, or as on June 22 a speecch by the SG?

  Does the UK / Mission / Ambassador Pierce believe that there should be content neutral accreditation and access rules for journalists at the UN?

  Does the UK / Mission / Ambassador Pierce believe that a journalist should be spoken to before they are physically assaulted and banned from the UN?

  Did you know that the March "warning" was a frivolous complaint by the Moroccan mission, that I couldn't use my camera phone at the UNSC stakeout, that even USG Smale's MALU told me it was frivolous?

Did you know USG Smale's MALU told me I did not require an escort or minder to live stream on the fourth and third floors? They did. Repeatedly.

  You "refer' me back to this Star Chamber but as the letter you cite shows, there is no appeals process?

  Given your topic today in the UNSC I am banned from, what does this no due process banning without any attempt to address the issues - like that parking lot which were never raised to me - say about the Secretariat's and USG Smale's "mediation " and conflict prevention?

  Does the UK / Mission / Ambassador Pierce believe that a UN investigation or review of a journalist should involve an opportunity to be heard, and specific charges rather than unnamed accusers?

  So do you accept this censorship by your compatriot or not?" 
Their complicity on the slaughter in Cameroon, particularly in light of Liam Fox bragging about UK-based New Age's gas deal with Biya, is striking, and the failure to answer uncomfortable - hostile? - questions about Pierce's meeting with Biya's lobbyists need looking into. We have a FOIA request in to FCO on just this topic. As some British say: Shocking, smacking of the Star Chamber.
After Guterres banned Inner City Press from entry from July 3 onward, in order to report on the UN Inner City Press had to seek answers other than at the UN Noon Briefing and UN Security Council stakeout position, from which Guterres and Smale also banned it. Inner City Press asks question in front of the UN Delegates Entrance...


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