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Ban's UN Withheld Email While Breaking Union, Evicts Press, Lawless

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 4 -- The UN is increasingly a lawless organization. It refused to even show up in court after killing 10,000 people in Haiti by introducing cholera, through unscreened peacekeepers.

 This year Ban Ki-moon's UN has shown that journalists at the UN have no due process or appeals rights. Ban's Under Secretary General for “Public Information” Cristina Gallach issued a letter throwing Inner City Press out on two hours notice, without once speaking to Inner City Press - but while being listed in the then-withheld Office of Internal Oversight Services audit as implicated in the Ng Lap Seng bribery scandal. She should have recused herself - but Ban's UN is lawless.

   Journalists have no due process, but staffer members supposedly have the UN Dispute Tribunal. But consider a May 3, 2016 UNDT Order Inner City Press has obtained (while the UNDT has yet to put it on its website, so published by Inner City Press on Scribd, here). In it, UNDT Judge Ebrahim-Carstens questions why the UN Secretariat withheld from production an email about firing Emad Hassanin as First Vice President of the UN Staff Union:

“The second email produced by the Applicant (time-stamped 3:01 p.m.) appears to be relevant to the issues raised at the hearing. It is unclear why this email was not produced by the Respondent, given that it falls directly under para. 6 of Order No. 81 (NY/2016).”

  Ban's Secretariat has been ordered to explain itself by May 10. At least there is a process, which we aim to continue to cover. In the case of Gallach's eviction of the Press, there appears to be no process, even as it become more and more clear that it was Gallach who violated rules of due process and objectivity. We'll have more on this.

 When people say “the UN” it is often unclear whether they mean the UN Secretariat of Ban Ki-moon or, more often, the UN Security Council and its five permanent members.

  In covering “the UN” as a journalist, however, the need to make this distinction is not only academic.

   While much of the interest covering the UN beat is the diplomatic theater of the Security Council and sometimes the General Assembly, Ban Ki-moon's UN Secretariat, or more specifically his Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach, control media access to this theater.

   Normally this would pass without notice.

  But now that Ban and specifically Gallach are caught up in the UN bribery scandal, with Ban's Secretariat having impermissibly changed a document to name one of alleged briber Ng Lap Seng's companies and Gallach having negligently allowed Ng's Global Sustainability Foundation to hold an event in the UN Visitors Lobby and to sponsor the UN's slavery memorial, the gatekeepers objectivity is no longer clear.

  Why should the UN Secretariat, with these conflicts of interest, be able to ban some media from covering the Security Council, or the General Assembly meetings in the ECOSOC and Trusteeship Council chambers?

   Why, as happened on April 26, should Ban and Gallach get to decide which media can see into the Security Council's ostensibly closed door “Arria formula” meeting on Western Sahara, through the in-house EZTV system Gallach provides those to whom she gives and doesn't revoke office space, leaving others to wait out in the hall?

    How is Ban Ki-moon allowed to, without due process or any way to appeal, have whomever he put in as head of the Department of Public Information decide which journalists to reward with access, and which to punish, to the point of throwing their files in the street? Video here and here, petition here.

  This has happened in 2016, Ban's and Gallach's last year on the job. Inner City Press, which has covered both UN corruption and the Security Council's diplomatic game for a decade, was abruptly ousted and evicted on Gallach's orders, despite an informal appeal to Ban, who said, “That is not my decision." If that's somehow true (some already disagree), Gallach's decisions should be immediately reversed.

  Gallach, whose negligence with Ng's GSF is detailed in Paragraphs 37-40 and 20(b) of the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of the Ng Lap Seng and John Ashe cases, unilaterally and without allowing any due process reduced Inner City Press' accreditation to that of “non-resident correspondent,” which means it can no longer pass through the turnstile to the UN Conference Building's second floor.

  This means that Inner City Press has been Banned from covering a Security Council meeting on Western Sahara, and a meeting on the second floor about counter-terrorism in Sri Lanka, for example, and another meeting on Security Council reform.

  Gallach's pretext was that Inner City Press sought on January 29 to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room, nowhere listed as closed, that had and has a bearing on the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case and ongoing story. Gallach had and has a conflict of interest and should have been recused from deciding to oust and then evict.

 Why should a conflicted and seemingly corrupt Secretariat have the only voice in which media can cover the Security Council, ECOSOC and General Assembly?
  Inner City Press has repeatedly put these questions to Ban's spokespeople. Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric has replied that "you have been afforded a lot of courtesies;" his deputy has cut off the questions, calling them only personal. An associate, openly aligned with the insiders, has been even more rude, see Vine here.

 The acting head of the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, on orders, filmed Inner City Press' eviction and then tore down the sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access which opposes these moves by Ban and Gallach. This is today's UN.

  The descent into censorship and retaliation shows that there is at a minimum a need for oversight of, and appeals from, Ban's and Gallach's media accreditation decisions. More fundamentally, the Secretariat should not control who can cover the Security Council, and how. A separate body should be established for this. More on this to follow.


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