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After UN DPI Ousts ICP, UN Staff Union Says Restore Office & Full Pass

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 26 -- After Inner City Press was summarily ejected from the UN, which it has covered for ten years, on February 19, the ostensibly deciding official Cristina Gallach told no less than Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta that Inner City Press would still be able to cover the UN.

What she didn't say was that Inner City Press' ability to cover the unfolding UN corruption scandal in which she has played a role would be curtailed under the proposed arrangement - by design.

  Because as a working journalist it needed access to cover the February 25 UN Security Council meeting about North Korea, and only in connection with filing a lawyer's letter telling Gallach and the UN not to touch Inner City Press' office or files, Inner City Press late morning entered the UN with a so-called "Green P" non-resident correspondents pass.

  At the stakeout, after covering five separate Security Council consultations, Inner City Press asked the President of the Security Council for February, Rafael Ramirez of Venezuela, about one of them, and what he thought of the UN's commitment to free press.

"I hope you find your office," the President of the Security Council said. Video here. So who is Cristina Gallach? Another Security Council Permanent Representative told Inner City Press what Gallach did, ousting the Press without due process, was "outrageous."

On February 26, the UN Staff Union's 45th Staff Council adopted and issued a Bulletin calling for the UN to immediate restore Inner City Press to possession of its office and to ensure these abuses not happened again. Full text here; excerpts below:

"The 45th Staff Council of the United Nations Staff Union expresses its solidarity with Mr. Matthew R. long-time journalist of Inner City Press who was summarily stripped of his credential and physically thrown out of United Nations premises by security personnel, reportedly on the instructions of the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Public Information.

It is shocking and dismaying that at the United Nations, as a beacon of all freedoms enshrined in its Charter, the Administration would blatantly eject a member of the press corps assigned to report on events at the Organization, in an attempt to muzzle and intimidate. Such actions, reminiscent of tendencies seen, sadly, in too many parts of the world, have no place at the United Nations. They are inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations, which include safeguarding the rights of all peoples and ensuring due process, transparency, accountability and the freedom of the press.

It is inconceivable that the United Nations Administration would seek to silence a member of the press and limit his or her access and ability to report on events at the world Organization, and all the more so given the lack of due process and the manner in which Mr. Lee was treated, simply because Administration officials feel they can do so without any consequences. The actions by the Administration demean all of us, and they demean and undermine the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Any potential disagreement, misunderstanding or other matter surely can be resolved —here of all places.

It should be recalled that this is not the first time that Administration officials have exhibited less than democratic tendencies. Since the December 2013 elections for the staff representatives to the 45th Staff Council, the Secretary-General has to this day refused to grant facilities and time release to the elected staff representatives on the pretext of an undisclosed “dispute” and, perhaps more disturbing, because he feels that he can. For the Administration to arbitrarily act as if staff elections had not happened is deeply troubling and reflects what seems to be a growing trend at the Organization.

The 45th Staff Council stands for the freedom of the press and the right to due process. Among other crucial principles, these are fundamental to the functioning of a free society and to the achievement of the free, fair and equitable world all of us are working for — Staff, Administration and Member States.
The Staff Council calls for the immediate return of Mr. Lee’s Resident Correspondent credential and forthe Department of Public Information to restore him to full possession of his office space, which he uses to report, immediately and, in any event, not enter his office or touch any files in the interim, as well as to lift any restrictions imposed on the performance of his duties and the conditions of his accreditation. The Staff Council stands united with Mr. Lee and the entire United Nations press corps, and respectfully calls on the Secretary-General to ensure that such a situation does not recur at the United Nations."


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Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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