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UN Spin Under Ban's Gallach Covers Up Bribery, Strategic Flight to Brussels

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series

UNITED NATIONS, April 29 -- When Inner City Press on February 19 was told to leave the UN on two hours notice, after covering the organization for ten years, it came as a surprise. But now we know some of what happened behind the scenes, below.

  The Ban Ki-moon administration official who ordered the ouster, and later the April 16 eviction of Inner City Press' long-time office in the UN, is Cristina Gallach. Her involvement in the Ng Lap Seng bribery scandal is set forth in the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services audit, in Paragraphs 37 to 40 and 20(b).

  While that clearly discredits her decisions, from which she should have been recused and which must be reversed, there are other problems.

  Gallach's main job, beyond targeting and evicting the Press which covers the increasing corruption of this late stage administration, is supposed to be explaining the UN to the public. But her 35-page “2016 Communications Guidance,” which Inner City Press is putting online here, is laughable.

   Gallach's “Guidance” does not even mention the bribery scandal she is involved in, and which is bringing the UN into further disrepute. It barely mentions the sexual abuse and exploitation scandal in UN peacekeeping, which is been covered all over the world this year and has led to Ban Ki-moon her boss -- on whose behalf she always acts? - being described as “inept” and worse.

   On April 29, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: You might say it's beneath you, but I wanted to know whether the position in DPI, Strategic Communications Division, is now vacated, and if there's a recruitment for it?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I think if there is a recruitment, it would be posted on Inspira, which you're free to…

Inner City Press:  If it is, does that mean that the person who held the post is taking a demotion, is going out of New York?

Spokesman:  Well, if the post is vacated, it means the person has moved on to another post.

   While Dujarric misspoke this week that the UN's in-house EZTV, which Ban's UN gives only to those correspondents his Gallach does NOT oust or evict, is available on the UN's computers in the basement, “Inspira” is available. And it confirms that the D-2 “Director of the Strategic Communications Division” position under Gallach is now out for bid: it has been vacated.

   Sources in DPI have long told Inner City Press that Gallach's mismanagement has led to some refusing to obey her orders, and others “quitting” - or in the fashion of comfortable world of UN professionals, taking other jobs.

  But it is almost unheard of for an official to so dislike her or his supervisor as to take a demotion, and loss of pay, in order to get away. The sources say this is what occurred with the “Strategic Communications Division” post, whose now departed occupant Deborah Steward has left not with any promotion but the opposite, to head the so-called UNIC in Brussels. We'll have more on this - and on who would want to work under Cristina “The Censor” Gallach.

  In 2016 the UN has been turned into a place where they attemp to silence or hinder critical media by arbitrary ouster, eviction and restriction, like some other places on Earth. It's a new low. Watch this site.

The incident used as a pretext in the ouster letter signed by Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach, Inner City Press' attempt to cover a January 29 event in the UN Press Briefing Room which was nowhere listed as closed, was the type of principled disagreement about journalistic rights that led Inner City Press to refuse an order to leave a briefing by French President Francois Hollande ostensibly only for the traveling French press.

Inner City Press wasn't thrown out then. But something had and has changed.

  While Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, when asked about the ouster, said “That is not my decision,” those close to him say that this crackdown on the Press was discussed at a meeting of Ban's senior leadership team.

   Ban's waning tenure at the UN is embroiled in scandal not only of peacekeeper rapes under Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous but more dangerously for Ban the scandal of bribery at the UN by Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng, of former President of the General Assembly John Ashe and members of Ban's Secretariat.

    The Office of Internal Oversight Services audit occasioned by the indictment of Ng, Ashe and others who had since pleaded guilty, including Francis Lorenzo of South South News which still under Gallach has its UN office, named Gallach as negligent, at best. See audit at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20(b).

 Gallach did no due diligence in allowing Ng's Global Sustainability Foundation to hold a corrupt event in the UN Visitors Lobby, with Ban present. Gallach did no due diligence of Ng's Global Sustainability Foundation sponsoring the UN's slavery memorial.

   Gallach, who had found that some under her in the Department of Public Information whom she had ordered to sign the ouster letter refused to, said that Inner City Press had broken the rules and norms. As time has gone on, she had been unable to specify which rules - in fact, when directly asked she refused to provide a copy of the rule she claims to be relying on.

  Ban heard about the impending ouster of Inner City Press... and did nothing. His supporters point out to Inner City Press that Ban also did not speak in favor of it. We'll have more on this.

   Spain on the other hand, which got Gallach the position, has as part of the leverage it has as a Security Council member during the selection of the next Secretary General decided to drop Gallach and seek to put a different Spanish official in a different, more substantive post: the Office of Disarmament, current run by Ban's senior adviser Kim Won-soo (who, when asked about the ouster of Inner City Press and how it makes Ban looks, said only, “You have to talk with Cristine”).

   But even if Spain which unwisely put the under-qualified Gallach in the DPI position now sees the error of its ways, the reality is that Ban Ki-moon's UN, in the midst of a corruption scandal, ousted and evicted the critical Press which is pursuing the story.

   As Inner City Press learned more about how Gallach got the position, and how she (mis) used it, the retaliation grew - to the point of throwing Inner City Press' files in the street on April 16, video here. Next, Gallach's staff tore down the sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access on the door of Room S-303, which opposes censorship, and have until now ignored Inner City Press' formal request regarding its office in S-303. Others said it was on hold, despite moves both French and Moroccan (perhaps one wag suggested allowing occupation to "make up" for Ban's use of the term?)

   But Gallach is getting more and more desperate and retaliatory, and Ban still claims, despite the above, “That is not my decision.” We'll have more on all this.


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