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At UN as P5 UK Denies FOIA for Yemen & Cameroon Docs, Censors Alliance Sells E10 Access

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 1st Person

UNITED NATIONS, February 15 – In the UN Security Council there are the Permanent Five (the US, France, UK, China and Russia) and then the Elected, or Other, Ten. Some do a better job than others during their two year (or in the case of Italy and the Netherlands, one year) on the Council. Italy before it left the Council decided to try to raise its profile by serving espresso in the UN-given clubhouse of the UN Correspondents Association, a group which by its own admission is not, and apparently feels it cannot be, about press freedom. In fact, UNCA had the investigative Press thrown out for pursuing the story of UNCA's receipt of funds from convicted UN briber Ng Lap Seng, who then got a photo with the Secretary General at UNCA's fundraiser at Cipriani. Today to its dues paying members UNCA is selling "informal" access to E10 ambassadors. Periscope here. But for what? Consider the opacity of the P5, with the UK as first example: the UK silence about the plight of Anglophone residents of the former British Southern Cameroons persists even in the face of a Freedom of Information Act request from Inner City Press.

More than five months ago on 15 August 2017 Inner City Press asked the UK government for records concerning Cameroon. After repeatedly extending the time to response, now the UK has denied access to all responsive records, letter here, saying that "the release of information relating to the UK’s discussion on UN business could harm our relations and other member states of the United Nations (UN)."

Here on Patreon is the full denial letter, from which Inner City Press is preparing an appeal, on Yemen as well - it has 40 working days.

This is shameful - the UK is also exiting transparency.

On February 6 in front of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked the United Kingdom's Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen for the UK's comment on Nigeria's forced repatriation of 47 to Cameroon. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: Nigeria did a forced repatriation of 47 Cameroonian leaders. The UNHCR said it was illegal. The US has commented on it. Does the UK have any view? Amb Allen: I’m afraid I wasn’t aware of that before. I’ll have to get back to you on the details." Video here. At day's end, a UK Mission spokesperson sent Inner City Press a short comment, here.

As Inner City Press pursues these questions at the UN, it remains restricted to minders by the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, who it is noted is British - and functionally a censor. A retaliator, too? Smale has not explained why Inner City Press' long time work space is assigned to no-show, no-question Egyptian state media Akhbar al Youm.

UN officials are supposedly international civil servants, no longer involved in and commenting on politics in “their” country. Hours before Jacob Zuma resigned in South Africa, Inner City Press asked the head of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo about an interview she gave the day before, specifically on Zuma and Thabo Mbeki. Do you take your international civil servant hat off? How does it work? When the UN Department of Public Information put up the video of the press conference, the audio of Phumzile Mlambo's answer was cut. UN video without audio here, at 24:46. After the cut, she said, “there's no play book for that.” There is, at the UN, a play book for censorship, of the most ham-handed kind. Inner City Press, which has similarly questioned UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous serving France, and Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed referring to Buhari as “my president,” on these topics -a and still finds itself restricted to minders, its long time work space purportdly given to a no-show, no-question Egyptian state media Akhbar al Youm. But cutting audio? We'll have more on this.


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